Karl Loren is a prolific author -- with thousands of pages that have been published on public and restricted web sites over may years. Here is one of those pages that might just excite you into an exchange of intense communication with Karl. See what you think of these ideas.
The Bane Of Email
How Good Does A Web Page Have To Be?
Table Of Contents
Normally we think of "communication" as being between two living beings -- John, the teacher, is lecturing from the front of the classroom. He gives a question to Bill, in the course room. I could go into the mechanics of what is communication, but the essential factor here is that there are two living beings -- say within sight and hearing of one another.
Instead of the teacher teaching verbally, in person, one person, Bill, John can now teach millions through the via of putting his message on a piece of paper rather than deliver it "live."
It should go without saying that if John and Bill do not have mutually agreed definitions for the words being used between them, then the communication does not take place. In fact this one "proviso" is so critical, and so much missing in society, that improvement on the mechanics of communication technology (such as the internet) are useless without some improvement in the nature of study -- in the understanding on the need for mutual understanding of words, including their specific definitions and the definitions, in turn, of the words within those definitions.
Likewise, if John talks to Bill and Bill is a bit drunk, his mind will be fuzzy and that has the same effect of "no definitions available."
Here is a graphic example of this concept:
At This Bill Is Looking This Is What his Mental Picture is Comment Here is a sober guy who is in good mental condition!
Something happens to this guy -- we don't know what!
At This Bill Is Looking This Is What his Mental Picture is Comment Here is a guy who MAY have a problem!
The guy drinks a small amount of alcohol -- after previously seeing a cat.
At This Bill Is Looking This Is What his Mental Picture is Comment Here is a guy who has just drunk some alcohol. You tell him there is a "cat" there and he say, "no," there is only a dog!
The above is not likely to happen after ONE drink, but it does happen.
The guy drinks more alcohol. It is VERY unpredictable as to what he will SEE when he looks at the cat. He may see the cat, he may see Aunt Mary, he may see a tiger. He may turn in fear to escape the tiger, he may try to kiss the cat since he SEES his girlfriend.
At This Bill Is Looking This Is What his Mental Picture is Comment Here is a guy who has just drunk lots of alcohol. You tell him there is a "cat" there and he say, "no," there is a tiger -- and shoots it! Or, he runs!
Maybe he sees only a fuzzy image, instead of a "wrong item."
At This Bill Is Looking This Is What his ACTUAL Sight is Comment Here is a guy who has just drunk lots of alcohol. He SEES that his view is fuzzy. He knows that he is under the influence.
Here is a different phenomenon. Many people who have drunk too much alcohol have experienced that their vision gets blurred. They know they can't see straight. In many of the other examples in this series the drunk sees very clearly, but sees something that is not there. In this example he sees what is there, but the picture is blurred or fuzzy.
The type of fuzziness caused by wrong definitions or different definitions (between John and Bill) are of the same nature -- but harder to detect.
Nonetheless, we seem to have SO much need to communicate, and putting our communications on paper, multiplied by the millions just makes this whole process even more problematic.
When ONE person communicates to ONE person, there is a chance, at least, that John will "notice" that Bill looks dazed, or doesn't seem to understand. There is always the chance, in live communication, that Bill can say, "I don't understand that!"
But, communication on paper or the internet is far to huge to ever even consider trying to "go back" to the Socratic days of "one on one" tutoring. Even Socrates, of course, was subject to the same requirement for mutually agreed definitions.
Communication, whether verbally one-to-one, or multiplied by the billions on TV, the Internet or in print, is just as good, and no better, than the degree of mutual full understanding of the definitions of the words being used.
Print, TV or Internet is certainly not the same as live communication, but they have many advantages that might make up for the less-than-personal nature of the medium.
Most basically, we could improve the terrible educational system to teach students how to study. They do NOT learn to study, and thus become ignorant citizens and consumers -- making decisions on the basis of emotion rather than logic and intellect.
We can "improve" the written words by adding pictures -- so the "less-than-personal" communication becomes more personal -- more alive. Pictures are NOT prone to the same problem of needing mutually agreed-upon definitions.
Making something "personal" is NOT a substitute for having agreed-upon definitions, but personal, live communication is so satisfying, so "good" that we think we've made tremendous progress in communication when we can take the impersonal (and "word-flawed) nature of the internet and improve it a MORE PERSONAL (but still "word-flawed") type of communication.
So, the challenge then becomes, "How can you modify that piece of paper so that someone can 'ask the paper' a question and get an answer??" Well, with Pony Express it might take the question 30 days to arrive at Bill, and another 30 days for the answer to return to John. With the eMail the question can arrive at Bill in seconds and a response be received by John in more seconds.
This will breed chaos in a large organization where people are loose about company purpose and use the fast and cheap method of communication to send and receive trivial messages. Many offices are paralyzed by the non-business use of the eMail system within the company, or even more by the "instant messaging" service that sneaks onto employee computers.
The number of daily e-mails in North America has tripled since 1999, to 11.9 billion, according to IDC, a Framingham, Mass., research firm. That figure doesn't include spam e-mails, which are another problem entirely.
All these messages, of course, take time to read. The ePolicy Institute, a Columbus, Ohio, consulting firm, says 48% of all office workers spend one to two hours a day on e-mail. Some 10% spend more than half the day on the stuff. (source restricted)
Cookies are a very important method for maintaining state on the Web. "State" in this case refers to an application's ability to work interactively with a user, remembering all data since the application started, and differentiating between users and their individual data sets.
An analogy I like to use is a laundry cleaner's shop. You drop something off, and get a ticket. When you return with the ticket, you get your clothes back. If you don't have the ticket, then the laundry man doesn't know which clothes are yours. In fact, he won't be able to tell whether you are there to pick up clothes, or a brand new customer. As such, the ticket is critical to maintaining state between you and the laundry man. (Source Restricted)
In general, dynamic Web pages are pages that interact with users, so that each site visitor sees customized information. In the case of PHP, dynamic also means that data is pulled from a database. Dynamic Web applications are prevalent in commercial (e-commerce) sites, where the content displayed is generated from information that is accessed from a database or other external source. (Source: Front Page Help Menus)
Dream on with me a bit and look into the future.
When the teacher knows his student SO well that he can anticipate the student's every question, even if unvoiced you'd have a virtually perfect teaching system.
When you have cookies properly used then every page on any of my 100,000 pages is capturing data and "telling the teacher" just what the student has read.The web pages capture and keep a record of Bill, the student, and every page he has read (or elecotronic quizz he has taken and been graded on). This system can then DELIVER exactly the page shich is next needed in this learning experience.
Electronic communication has other dimensions of approximating "life," as seen in the amazing popularity of flat screen TVs and computer monitors:
Revenue from flat-screen production is expected to exceed $60 billion this year, 40% above last year's level and three times greater than market levels in 2001, market researchers say. That doesn't include sales of related components, manufacturing equipment or end products such as computers, cell phones and TVs. The revenue figure is around a third of the much older and more diverse semiconductor industry.
Two years ago, desktop monitors passed notebook PCs as the biggest application for flat screens. And last year, computer buyers purchased more flat-screen monitors than traditional tube-based models for the first time. (Source Restricted)
When we finally get to three-dimensional, in-the-room images (holographs ala Star Track) we will have arrived at yet another milestone on the journey to copy life with a machine.
There are "trouble shooting" help features, increasingly, in many programs -- they are wisely moving in the direction of the "machine" presents a question with, say, two possible answers. The live being chooses one of those answers, and gets the next question, with the next set of possible answers. If the designer is smart enough, the whole experience can approximate Bill asking John a fairly complex question and getting the answer.
This whole subject gets more complicated when you figure that people don't read on the web, but scan!!
People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In a recent study John Morkes and I found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. (source restricted)
There are some brilliant people, some "lucid minds" working on many improvements for communication on the internet, and in any other medium, but unless these brilliant people recognize, as I do here, at "Lucid Minds" the vital and basic necessity for clearing up basic communication, no matter how it is delivered, by assuring that both the originator and the recipient have the same definitions for the words being used.