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Subject: HM.Frameworks:Taxonomy:Perception

Title: HM.Frameworks:Taxonomy:Perception
Alert: Long Post

In the realm of HumanMarkup, one area that we have not taken up, at least by name, is Perception. Just approaching the topic makes me uncomfortable. Partly this is due to my background in advertising art direction, where perception is everything, and the task at hand was and is always to discover what the target market's perception of any given product or service is, what that market's perception of the competition is, and then trying to change, reinforce, introduce or otherwise manipulate that perception. Partly this is due to a characteristic I share in common with most of humanity, uncertainty. I don't care to be found out when my own perception of reality is proven faulty, and face the attendant embarassment.

So, having admitted my reluctance, I will say that my background, which required quite a lot of reading, particularly in Psychology, will serve me well as I grapple with this thorny concept. Before I get into specifics, I'd like to explain a bit about advertising as it is actually practiced, as opposed to the popular perceptions by which the practitioners of this allegedly nefarious art have been viewed, from the movie, "The Hucksters" to the Television Series, "ThirtySomething."

Until the advent of the Internet and World Wide Web, Advertising didn't (couldn't) actually sell anything. So Advertising couldn't try to sell you anything you didn't need. At best it could persuade you to view a product or service in a favorable way that might incline you to buy it. I point this out as a case where an entire vocation deeply involved with Perception has been unable or has not put forth the effort to correct a common misperception. Whether it could or not is moot, but the point is that we are sometimes unable to see correctly what is right in front of us.

Additionally, one wonders why the vocation doesn't mount a greater effort to refute outright falsehoods persistently alleged about it, namely the mostly mythical practice of flashing three to five frames of words like "You are Hungry" in the 24 frames per second of film or the 30 frames per second of video, the so-called practice of "subliminal persuasion."

If it exists, I didn't find it, although it has been reported to have been tried in the fifties or sixties during drive-in movies and proved inconclusive, but again the point is not whether it happened, but that it apparently wasn't cost-effective. I think it can safely be said that if it had proved cost-effective, it would have been used extensively enough to have attracted widespread acceptance within the general practice of advertising, so that I could not have ignored it had I tried and it would also have attracted more negative attention than it has. The fact that the belief that it does exist lingers, points to a threshold where belief, modified or supported by membership in a particular cultural group, so influences Perception that it can be said to become Perception itself.

So I will attempt to maintain a focus that does not dismiss or fail to see what is close at hand while working on the larger structure of HumanML at the same time that I try to prevent my own cultural biases from overtaking my own Perceptions. I usually discourage the use of the word, try, when approaching tasks in favor of adopting a more positive attitude of simply stating that one will do something, to avoid starting any initiative with the idea that failure is an acceptable option rather than an unavoidable possibility. However, in this case, I have to acknowledge that one cannot wholly prevent one's own biases from coloring every effort one makes to a greater or lesser degree.

Starting with the definitions, my copy of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary lists the first definition of Perception as consciousness. That gets us into difficult territory from the inception of our investigation because no attempt can be made to understand consciousness, how we experience and interact with the world, without considering phenomenology. So, syllogistically, we need to consider phenomenology when probing Perception. However, I will return to that, since my starting point is to take the whole of Perception into account first.

So, staying with the ramifications of our definition, we start with Phenomenology and proceed. My dictionary then defines Perception as observation, tautologically, a result of perceiving, resulting in a mental image, or concept. Then it cites awareness through physical sensation of the environment with the example of (color~), followed by quick, acute intuitive cognition or appreciation presumably resulting in comprehension, or discernment.

The common denominator in all of these definitions whether connected or distinct, except for consciousness or awareness which, to me, are inseparable, is that they describe "states." So, I see Perception as best defined as a "Phenomenological condition or state that exists within consciousness based on experience resulting in cognition or comprehension."

When I say "Phenomenological" in the foregoing statement, I mean a gestalt of observer and observed, as opposed to "observations of the observer." This is important for HumanMarkup, if it is agreed upon, because it includes some consideration of the states of both observer and observed when interpreting Perception.

This is all a rather long-winded way of saying that I think Perception is best positioned, within the Taxonomy of HumanMarkup as a description of the state of a human object's consciousness in relation to a given object or circumstance.

In this way, Perception occurs between sensory channel input to the human object in the context of whatever previous predisposing factors may be in effect and the formation of intentionality, and the subsequent possibility of taking an action.

It is important to remember that we are not describing human consciousness here, we are building tools, a language, that is capable of making a workable, useable, interoperable, description of human consciousness as it exists and interacts within the digital information environment.

Since this inclusion of Perception is very important for our work, in my opinion, I will have to include it in the UML Classes Structure which has developed thus far, but I am hoping to have some informing discussions about this first. .

This is important because it has ramifications up and down the Taxonomical Ladder we are building.

Although this is not the main focus, or even one of the two actual specifications we are working on, I do not want it to distract from that effort, but to be workable within those two schemata, xml and rdf. However, my deliverables schedule is the end of this month, and since there is not all that much work that remains to be done on this first pass of this adjunct work, I thought it might be nice to hit one of our early milestones. It is the principle of low-hanging fruit. It is just an easy harvest of accomplishment

So, now that I've gotten this far I'd like to say that I think Perception, if we can come to procedural definition which is accurate or can be adapted to improve accuracy, will give us a potent tool for reducing miscommunications. It is my observation that the greatest number and greatest consequences of miscommunications are based on misperceptions, and improving perception is the key to improving communication.

Okay, can I have a vacation now? How about a few minutes off?


Rex Brooks
GeoAddress: 1361-A Addison, Berkeley, CA, 94702 USA, Earth
W3Address: http://www.starbourne.com
Email: rexb@starbourne.com
Tel: 510-849-2309
Fax: By Request

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