Let's craft a Multi...
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Let's craft a Multilayer Protocol

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This post is mostly a response to Larry laying out that what we need to do, as mentioned in the Slack group, is to

define is a minimum definition of "encyclopedia article" that is not also an attempt to define what a good encyclopedia article is. Basically, a typical blog post or opinion piece is not an encyclopedia article, because it doesn't purport to be an introductory overview of a topic. To get even more precise, one would have to limit the scope of encyclopedia "topics."

I respond that (and I will edit my words liberally) I don't think limiting the scope of topics in the base protocol is a good idea at all

A protocol should only govern technical specifications (i.e. an article - must have a topic of value type string) and if there is a need to govern the character of topics, then the protocol would simply define the means for the ecosystem to do so for itself.

This is a perfect use case for a rating system...a ratings service (one of many in the ecosystem) can brand its rating scores as a judgement of topic-worthiness, say, and downstream systems can decide for themselves how to weigh that rating (or any others) in its algorithms.


Flexibility and Governance

Baking topic worthiness, or any similarly high level semantic, into the standard would require governance. And that's a challenge best left to the ecosystem (more on which below).

Larry points out that 1. "Anyone will be able to post anything they want even garbage text." and that 2. "The KSF is not publishing a standard for all kinds of content (yet!)."

As regards the latter, namely, that "The KSF is not publishing a standard for all kinds of content (yet!)." I think that's a crucial question that needs to be answered at the very beginning because, in my opinion, if semantic liberty isn't baked into the foundational spec then it will never accommodate it.

You can layer a rigid semantic standard on top of a flexible protocol but you cannot do the reverse.

Moreover, I will argue that even if there was no interest whatever in said flexibility, the right approach to crafting the protocol would be multilayered, with  high level semantics layered on top of lower more abstract level(s). If computer networking taught us anything it is to appreciate the value in multilayered protocols -- OSI is a monumental human achievement.

Aside from this, to bake a high level semantic -- topic suitability-- into the base standard implies that there be a method to reject or verify a topic, i.e, a government. There are two general approaches to government: centralized and non.

Presumably the project isn't interested in central governance, so that leaves us only decentralized methods, namely, and for example, via the rating system.

Accordingly, if we were to bake this semantic into the protocal, we would actually have two types of standard violations therein: technical violations - which can be enforced reliably and automatically, and higher level semantic violations - which require human judgement (if you need close to 100% accuracy).

And if so we must ask ourselves to what end are baking this semantic into the base 'standard'.

Now as the the vision of the KSF - I propose that in addition to and on top of the foundation technical protocol, the KSF, being primarily interested facilitating the development of a distributed, democratized encyclopedia, could define a higher level semantic Encyclopedia protocol determined by the semantic vision of the KSF, namely, "a minimum definition of "encyclopedia article" that is not also an attempt to define what a good encyclopedia article is."  

The KSF could even provide for or commission a rating service which would rate articles according to compliance with this higher level specification  that down stream consumers could reference. The KSF could even issue 'compliance' certification based on the adoption of this rating system.

But at the end of the day, I believe baking this semantic into the base technical protocol specification is a mistake both technical and political.

I guess, then, that I'm proposing a two layer standard. (The second layer could be seen as one of a number of possible 2nd level semantic specifications):

A base technical protocol which would accommodate anything conforming to the FORM if not substance of an encyclopedia article. (I do believe that would allow for the accommodation of a new decentralized blogosphere, which I dearly want to see) and a semantic Encyclopedia protocol determined by the semantic vision of the KSF, namely, "a minimum definition of "encyclopedia article" that is not also an attempt to define what a good encyclopedia article is."

If I had to take a step back and express the semantic definition of that which could be naturally accommodated by the lower level protocol it would be something like this: Any One Way, Standalone Presentation of Topical Writing, which encompasses, encyclopedias, and opinions and typical blogposts, or at higher level anything topical a human might want to publish and persist forever.

This topic was modified 12 months ago by naftali
Posted : 25/08/2021 11:32 pm
hampson reacted
Tim Chambers
Member Admin Registered

Well-said, @naftali! Would you agree that we are building up from the same OSI layer where RSS sits? (Which layer would that be? I'm too rusty to assert that I know.) We have an opportunity to standardize factoids smaller than a tweet all the way up to books and multi-volume collections like entire encyclopedias and a corpus like the entire works of Shakespeare. Or does a standard exist? I wonder if librarians could tell us. I am also sure a lot of work has been done in the middle to specify what an academic article is. I do not know anything about those standards. How does JSTOR work, for example?

I would add that at some level near the bottom we could re-use Larry's definition of a bitt that he invented for Infobitt. On that project, bitt was a fact with a source URL and an optional news category. Maybe we could nod to Stephen Colbert and not require the bitt to be a fact at the bottom of the scale. Bitts could be ranked on a scale of truthiness! A bitt could go up from a scale of 0 (trolling, garbage, or, how do you like this Sergei? vzdor), up through idea, observation, evidence, etc. up to a fact in Newtonian physics and—just throwing this to see if it sticks—quantum physics at the top. (I put q.p. at the top because of its reproducibility and precision to nine significant digits.) Somewhere in the middle would be tire-kicking opinions, weakly- and strongly-held opinions, and so on.

Posted : 06/09/2021 12:13 am