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Subject: [wsia] Re: Economics Conference Example

Title: Re: Economics Conference Example
Hi Susan,

I am going to go into a more depth with this reply beyond my thanks note yesterday, and I am copying all lists with this one message in order to say that unless I hear from the newly renamed Web Services for Interactive Applications (wsia) TC, that they wish to have correspondence on this issue copied to that list, I will keep it within the HumanMarkup TC. Both groups are gathering requirements through scenarios and use-cases, and while this may overlap, I don't want to assume it is appropriate for both.

At 6:01 PM -0500 1/23/02, susan.turnbull@gsa.gov wrote:
Hi Rex,

The story I told was real.  I'll give you the particulars as I recall them
followed by a generic scenario and some beginning thoughts on functional

For HumanML purposes, having real world examples to use in scenarios and to develop use-cases is very important because it grounds us in practical considerations and keeps us away from the over generalizations about what the Human Markup Language will actually be able to do.

An economist from Dept. of Treasury told me about her experience at the
GATT conference in Switzerland (about '93-94).  Every evening the US
representatives spent their time trying to compare/compile notes on what
was said.  There was no time to think/analyze/brainstorm - after that -
just sleep to begin again the next day.  She imagined how even more
frustrating it would be for non-native English speakers - and how mistrust
could fester in the meandering swatches of uncertain, but rushed meanings.
I suggested that they employ the real-time captioning approach used to
accommodate people with hearing loss. The English text would appear in real
time on a screen behind the speaker.  Everyone would leave the room with a
transcript - so the evening could be spent doing the critical thinking.

I think this is the critical point. If we can use mark up to clarify where agreement and disagreement occur, we can increase the amount of time that can be spent of resolving disagreements, reconciling misperceptions or misunderstandings, which is, I think, the best we can actually do at the start of this evolutionary process.

I have no idea what is in place today.  I just searched on GATT - not even
realizing the connection to World Trade Organization (its institutional
I just reviewed the final declarations from the Nov. 2001 WTO conference in
Qatar  - then I read statements from various country representatives.
There is an extraordinary gulf between these two sets of text - the country
representatives' carefully composed and advanced preparation statements are
worlds away from the final, collectively agreed upon declaration -which
sounds bland, technically abstract and flat.  Here I really don't know
enough to suggest how to make changes, but  -- its obvious the organization
could benefit from improved communications.  After Seattle, the stakes are

One of the things that I think can be drawn from this example, as a requirement, is for HumanML to include tags that simply express how the individual values the importance of a given piece of text (a string to the computer) in any given document. This can then serve two functions: creating an instance of "importance," and making the specific string available for extracting for reporting purposes, or synopsis/précis purposes.

Possible Scenario -
It would be neat if during plenary/working sessions - the WTO
representatives could respond with several coded inputs (human markup
language tags) in real time to the speaker - indicating a continuum of
responses - ranging from  "I agree heartily, and I have a suggestion for
making this happen" to "You have no idea what adverse impact would result
from this suggestion. - Even simple color coding might work, anything that
would increase awareness of significant difference and accordance in a
manner that levels and advances fairness in the process of participation.
When electronic transcripts were distributed at the end of a session - they
could actually be hyperdocuments (per Doug Engelbart - www.bootstrap.org)
making it very easy to find the "critical points of departure" - encoded by
all 140 participants equally throughout a presentation - This could
indicate to all participants in a transparent manner - where confusion
reigns, harmony exists, or raging disagreement/misinterpretation is clearly
evident.  Perhaps an ethnologist or someone who studies the pragmatics of
language/communications would have some suggestions for coding a real time
audience feedback system.  Clearly there is an urgency at the WTO level
that you could argue for in a research proposal, while actually focusing on
a simpler, close to home testbed application to fine tune improvements.

I am going to ask any interested to parties to evaluate this scenario for inclusion in a later use-case. As alluded to above, HumanML is designed to make "criitical points of departure" more readily availble for analysis, or for a secondary, deeper, level of interaction as part of a follow-on analytical process.

Below are a few sites I found just now with snippets of background on GATT,
WTO and the recent conference in Qatar.  I'd suggest you look at this site
and compare the (limp) formal resolution language of the body with the
(spirited) ideas and concerns expressed by the 140+ country
representatives.  It reads like talented jazz musicians trying to be
energized by each others' differences, but failing because the
notational/comprehension/trust/social capital gulf is too vast.

In many ways, I think this is the point at which HumanML and Web Services for Interactive Applications part company. However, it might be important for WSIA to be cognizant of the further ramifications which HumanML will be considering. HumanML will be an ongoing effort to elicit just such expressions of culturally divergent peoples, in order to eventually build up the cultural modules which, as they feed back into the commercial sphere as means for better serving newly emerging markets, will be of significance for the companies and instituions which use Web Services.

I didn't know if you wanted me to send this to those you cc'd on your
request.  My apologies to these listserv members if I'm erring on the side
of inclusiveness.  Let me know.

I would like to hear from folks on the WSIA lists about this. Unless I hear in favor of continuing this thread on that list, I will keep it on the HumanML lists only.

Rex,  I would also suggest you track the http://www.itrd.gov site for
possible research opportunities in this and related areas.

Will do.
In another vein, the proceedings of proposed US Federal regulations will
become available on a Federal portal soon - www.firstgov.gov.  How could
the humanmark-up tags help people to make this 2-D representation of how we
order our relationships with one another simpler and easier to understand
both during development and implementation of regulations.

Also, our next workshop on Feb. 19 will focus on natural language
interfaces being piloted to improve government service delivery.  We'll
have presentations from people at Stanford and EPA.  I'll forward the
agenda soon.  You're invited.

If I can find a way to fund the travel, I will. Natural language interfaces play right into HumanML interests, particularly as we approach the "avatar as interface" concept. Voice over IP and VoiceXML, are, I know, a particular interest of at least one of the WSIA members, and no doubt, many more in a tangential concern.

Thanks, and I am deleting the many samples, since I don't have time to comment on them all, but thank you for them as illustrations which we can all review.


Susan B. Turnbull
Senior Program Advisor
Next Generation Strategies
Office of Governmentwide Policy
US General Services Administration
p 202.501.6214
f  202.219.1533


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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