4 Responses to Findability is Intractable

  1. Yuriy Guskov 2011/07/12 at 10:26 #

    I would like to agree with you that findability is intractable because ambiguity, which occurs in thinking and natural language, is the result of information reducing. Reducing lead to (often irrecoverable) loss of information, therefore some ambiguities are just irresolvable. But also I do agree that we may help to handle ambiguities as best as we can. You say that “establishing a controlled set of symbols in a well defined namespace” is a necessary part of any IT solution. And this is inevitable. We should establish as unambiguous set of symbols as possible but if possible. Which means we cannot ignore problem of ambiguity and we cannot fully resolve it. You gave the example of taxonomy, but it is more complex than just setting just a controlled set of symbols, it also usually involves hierarchies, which is different matter.

    We need something which will join ambiguous natural language and specific computer identifiers. And this is human-friendly identification. It does not mean all symbols would mean exactly what their bringer meant. But it do mean ambiguities between symbols with similar values may be resolved. Moreover, sometimes ambiguities may be resolved quite simply: “Opera” hotel in Madrid is unique world-wide, whereas “I was in Opera hotel” is ambiguous. Identification may make ambiguities as much precise as we can establish. And this may alleviate findability to some degree, at least. Of course, it also means that such identification should not force to establish identity of all symbols, otherwise it may even distort the original meaning.

    Different people see the world too differently. But, in any case, they successfully communicate and collaborate with the natural language. If we may make it more precise, why not? What’s more, it should be really human-friendly, which means we cannot ignore usability. Semantic Web does not have appropriate human-friendly representation at the moment. We should think broader. The convergence between usability and content (meaning) should change not only Web and Semantic Web itself but the way we interact with computers. The way we deal with user interface and even files are not ideal today unless we will have semantic ecosystem.

    If you are interested, you can find more on this:


  2. Tom Johnson 2011/11/29 at 20:19 #

    I love this post. I’m excerpting a paragraph at the end for a conclusion to an upcoming presentation I’m giving on the topic of findability. I realize that my flaw early on was to assume that there was a single solution to it all.

    • Mark Baker 2011/11/29 at 20:41 #

      Cool. Let me know how it goes.


  1. “One Day I’m Going to Figure Out the Solution to Help…” | I'd Rather Be Writing - 2011/06/28

    […] Still it is important to recognize the that the problem is intractable, lest we waste too much of our time and energy for too little gain. (Findability Is Intractable) […]