Notes from correspondence,
November 2006 – December 2007

Pieter Wisse

These notes are excerpts, mostly taken from my email correspondence during the period from November 2006 up to December 2007.



So far, my own efforts at getting a systematic approach to information variety accepted, have admittedly failed. Of course I myself am largely responsible for such failure. Nevertheless, I find that’s not the complete story.
Let me start by outlining the solution I’ve come up with for information management at the scale of open interconnection. I should right away emphasize that I’ve never failed to explain it to satisfaction in, say, private communication. Never. So, an essential dimension apparently is a person’s public behavior, as opposed to her private behavior. Or, giving it a necessarily subjective twist, a person’s expectation of possible consequences in the public domain. I would therefore like to make a preliminary request. Could you, reader, please pretend that at first you are reading my explanation as if we’re engaged in a strictly private conversation?
Just think about how the Internet enables pervasive interconnection. It mounts the immediately practical problem of confused meanings. How can order — still — be established and maintained when, for example, similar signs (words, sentences, drawings, etcetera) carry different meanings? Or when different signs should carry similar meanings? Traditional, that is, isolated information systems kept the problem of unbounded information order largely submerged. The user was, and could be, relied upon to switch. Now, what did her switching involve? The answer is: context. A user performs the move from one relevant context to another relevant context. Her move remains external to the information systems — to be — used. Indeed, as long as the user may be counted upon to switch her … use from one isolated information system to the next, no such systems need to take context-dependency of meanings into account.
With the Internet and related technologies, potentially the whole network is ‘the information system.’ Guidance as to relevance must subsequently be also provided for from within the network, rather than leaving it ‘outside’ to a user’s discretion. Well, my proposal for an ambiguous information order, regardless of scale, is to include context. Doesn’t it sound obvious? Imagine that a sign from an originally isolated information system is now prefixed by another sign as its context. The pair of them, that is, original sign and context made-explicit, (re)establish rigor for relevance.
The formal mechanism for adding context is of course somewhat more elaborate, but this is the main idea. It is readily accepted as appropriate. When suggesting examples from daily life, everybody easily becomes aware of how different situations correspond to equally different contexts to generate precision, i.e. to disambiguate.
How about you? Are you ordering a drink in a bar? Are you making gymnastic exercises at a bar? Once you’re sensitive to meaningful annex behavioral differentiation, it‘s impossible not to recognize, even actively apply it all over. If you need more convincing, browse a typical dictionary (and also wonder about what meanings are not included). A gymnastics/bar simply is different from a drinking establishment/bar. Or, as another example, factor out your own behaviors. They change according to situations. You may be a nice and thoughtful person at home, negligent as a tax payer, an aggressive driver, etcetera.
Whether or not an etymological root is shared, what counts at any — point in — time is that meanings may differ. Meanings can vary … because they are variable. Information management according to contextual differentiation should therefore be integrated with temporal differentiation. In recognition I’ve given my book Metapattern (Addison-Wesley, 2001) the subtitle: context and time in information models.
That wasn’t too difficult to grasp in outline, was it? Since you’ve now caught the drift of my proposal for managing information variety, I’d like to extend my invitation to criticize Metapattern. Do you believe that I’m raising a non-issue? Is there, in your opinion, no problem with information order at all, turning my solution superfluous at best?
Please submit serious counter-arguments. What I would like you to add, though, are your arguments why you believe that currently popular approaches to so-called system integration are superior. Have you ever met with success? Can you report it?
I should also mention that from my perspective, I find it straightforward to explain their failures. Formally, when a sign is — potentially — ambiguous for a user at the scale of ‘her’ system, contexts need to be made systematically explicit within that very information system, too. In fact, I can even explain stubbornly conservative behavior. Apparently, for many people information management ‘at work’ still means a situation that is quite disjunct from their private circumstances (where they are readily agreeing with my analysis of variety). Absolute standardization that anyone would ‘personally’ deny, is nonetheless applied beyond the strictly private sphere.
In Popperean fashion, I believe I am allowed to maintain Metapattern as a productive hypothesis about managing information variety. For any serious falsification  has not yet been brought up. It could be that Metapattern is simply irrelevant. But that would be difficult to uphold. We are engaged in applying information technology for interconnection. So, we are facing — increased risks by orders of magnitude of — ambiguities in interpretation. Surely, from my intention with Metapattern, it is clearly is highly relevant.
Could it be incomprehensible? On the contrary, I find the idea of contextual differentiation eminently explainable. It can be straightforwardly demonstrated with the variety of personal experience.
Yet, the lack of Metapattern’s application so far is also a clearly demonstrated fact. What is it that keeps a person who privately understands the need for, and readily admits to, a qualitative change in managing information variety to abstain from applying it? As Saul Bellow remarked, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”

The problem of the problem, or the problem squared, for short, has now become especially difficult to recognize. Why? It has rapidly invaded the macroculture and has thereby nearly imperceptibly receded into the behavioral background.

Reputation practically rests on resisting innovation, despite rhetoric to the contrary.

Suppose we could agree on different persons, or even the same person on different occasions (also read: situations), holding different concepts of ontology ... that would already constitute an argument in favor of the interdependency paradigm.
Now I readily admit to being (sic!) quite unknowledgeable about the historical development of detailed concept(s) of ontology. However, when "the accepted sense" is referred to for ontology, I simply don't believe that it exists in some absolutist sense.
Another point, of course, is whether it is advisable to run the risk of being ill understood, or even not all, by followers of some present major current in ontology. I strongly feel it as my dilemma that going along with such currents makes it impossible to necessarily escape from them at some later stage ..., while not going along seems to condemn me to stagnation. I'm actually betting on changing conditions, shifting currents, and therefore trying to add some force to help shift them. I also feel the biggest impact ultimately comes from remaining as consistent as possible.
Do you find that the title Ontology for interdependency (still) implies that interdependency could be adequately supported by a traditional ontology (as a specific theory)? It sounds as if your concept of ontology is one that, indeed, I would disagree with. Being at large(st), including some state of being, is to me not ontology. Only a theory, or concept, of being, then, is an onto-logy. So, in my view (which is of course a pleonasm, here :-), ...
As I write this, I'm starting to realize that, indeed, our concepts of ontology might differ significantly. Thank you for raising the challenge! Whereas you hold, please note, as I read your message, that ontology is largely invariant, I argue for inherent variance. Perhaps you refer more to a class, while I concentrate more on its changing elements. And what I'm trying to do is add yet another element as current needs for information management seem to require. Some formal inclusion of context etcetera is required which, ontologically, wasn't properly 'there' before, at least not that I am aware of.
Anyway, professional change is always up to responsible persons taking up the challenge. From your message I read that you yourself don't feel compelled yet to apply it, teach it to your students, etcetera. Why not? Are you not convinced by my arguments? If not, I'd of course be most interested in learning where you find that I'm really falling short. Do you actually find that the paradigm you're now applying is still better suited for future information management?
Again, I'm quite an outsider as far as academic publishing goes, but what I do seem to understand from albeit limited experience with rejections is that hardly anything works without inside recommendation. :-) What I meant is whether you might know some editor who might be interested to have a look, that's all. But please leave it when such a reference might reflect negatively on yourself ... which, for that matter, is once again a convincing illustration of subjective situationism.
I don't understand why my working paper at Amsterdam University should first be(come) a journal paper before discussing it with your students. Isn't it the ideas proper that should count, even regardless of reputation of publishing channel? Otherwise, it certainly takes a very, very long time to divert the current to directions more conducive to social developments.
Frankly, I'd like people to welcome innovation, rather than frustrate it in practice. Please be equally straightforward if you actually don't believe that such an interdependency paradigm/ontology is both practically and theoretically relevant. But, then, what's the (or read with emphasis: your) alternative?

Inspired by both your request for contributing to your future publication on contragrammar and a reading of Jonathan Lear's comments on Freud (Love and its Place in Nature, 1990), I now find myself considering on a deeper level the assimilation of contragrammar and semiotic ennead. When you look at the ennead, there are three dimensions corresponding to Peirce's original elements of his triad. Please note that the three elements I've placed along each dimension are not only irreducible (which, of course following Peirce's principle, goes for all nine elements) but also relative. For a particular, say, value of the complete ennead, along each dimension the 'middle' element provides a pivot, i.e. unambiguously connecting the elements on either 'side' of it. These pivotal elements are focus, signature, and identity, respectively. Now what I'm only just starting to realize is that the unambiguous connection between the outer elements for each so-called dimension necessarily constitutes a tautology when expressed by contragrammar. So, for the interpretant dimension, the concept of the motive is the motive of the concept. And for the sign dimension, the intext of the context is the context of the intext. Finally for the object dimension, the behavior of the situation is the situation of the behavior.
Now as tautologies in the enneadic sense, these contragrams don't 'say' anything (because that's exactly why the ennead ... is the ennead). I'm actually confident that you would dismiss them straight away 'as' valid contragrams. I'd quite agree with you. But then, precisely their tautological nature could yield a yardstick of sorts. Or a boundary case. Take for example your own "diagrammatic view of the contragram" (J.D. Haynes, Meaning As Perspective: The Contragram, 1999, p. 23). My idea is that the three enneadic tautologies correspond to a complete overlap of the opposite arcs of what you've depicted as a moebius ring, such overlap effectively resulting in a closed circle.
A productive contragram offers an escape from such closure.

Shouldn't the content count, period?! And by definition, an innovative idea cannot be supported by reputation ... as such an idea simply still lacks historical establishment. Genuine innovators are practically forced to self-publication, all the more so when they care to make the effort, I find, under current business (and, apparently, academic :-) market pressures. However, what I would find a legitimate inquiry by anyone is whether or not your publications are relevant for your current teaching and research position. You should be able to clearly demonstrate that.

I've just come across and immediately read, with great interest and enthusiasm, Narrative, Perception, Language, and Faith (Palgrave, 2005) by Edmond Wright. It seems that independently, and applying some different sources (mainly Peirce and Schopenhauer), I've arrived at what Wright calls triangulation theory. Indeed, as he writes (p. 176), "there is no pure mutual knowledge." What I refer to as a dia-enneadic framework could actually, I believe, be considered an extension of Wright’s single dynamic triad. Elements along each ennead’s dimension (sign, object, interpretant, respectively) are essentially relative, thereby allowing for dynamics with both relevant variety and rigorous precision.

 I’ve had a look at the draft article you sent me. I am urging you to (re)consider whether, after all, you find me qualified to evaluate it regarding publication in the Journal of Strategic Information Systems. For you may find me too outspokenly in favor of scientific relevance before rigor. Of course, optimally they should be combined.
Frankly, my initial impression was that the article is a hoax. April’s Fool? But then it’s already later in the year. However, I still wouldn’t bet anything on the article being some sort of joke or not.
Well, as a joke I don’t find it very inspiring. So, suppose you want to draw a laugh from your audience, I don’t recommend that JSIS publishes it as such.
On the other hand, when I assume that the author(s) is (are) being serious, I find that the article completely lacks relevance. Repeat, completely. The statistical work might be executed with sufficient rigor, but what’s the point of the exercise?
The author(s) claim(s) being first with such analysis. When s/he (they) is (are) right, I would say it’s never been done before for a perfectly good reason. For it is nonsense. At least, it escapes me what the message is other than trivial at best.
Making matters actually worse, as I see it, the repeated recommendation for developing countries is even counterproductive (please note, as one of the earlier reviewers already pointed out, too). My idea is that, if anything, e-government is no cause, but at most some epiphenomenon.
Of course, that could change when e-government is defined very differently, i.e. not in the limited sense of the article (sophistication of government websites, but what the ... is that?), but as part of infrastructure (for example, identity management) for digitally mediated transactions between whatever social actors (say, including you and me as private persons when negotiating the sale of a house).
Nowhere from the article can I detect a trace that the author(s) is (are) directly familiar with what the variables s/he (they) manipulate(s) should represent. I wouldn’t be surprised, still assuming it is a serious article, when the author(s) enjoy academic isolation. The result, anyway, is irrelevance.
Yes, you’d be right to read from my comments here that I am irritated by such departure from reality.
e-Government should not be so grossly simplified as the “research model” does.
I believe it doesn’t take much trouble to suggest other variables leading to similar results. For example, I guess that development of e-government also correlates strongly, perhaps even stronger, with the number of traffic lights, or MacDonalds franchises, or ... So?
Nearly all of the literature the author(s) refer(s) to is unknown to me. But especially bringing up Hofstede’s work should have warned the author(s) for not extrapolating beyond a particular culture. When limits to irreducibility are violated, nonsense results.
Of course I am not the guardian of JSIS’s editiorial charter. Yet I’d like to remark that the s that the article approaches most is that of ‘statistics.’ However, referring to the S’s in the journal’s name, it is not about information Systems and certainly not about Strategy in any relevant sense. My idea of strategy is that it should be in touch with reality.
The author(s), though, seem(s) to start from some sterile rigor, making subsequent attempts to provide relevant reasons for the analysis. It’s question begging, only.
I am also not at all impressed by what the author(s) argue(s) is the reputation of the institutions from which they’ve derived their data. Vested interests are protected through such numbers, too. I have a fair idea of how they’re collected.
I find the previous reviewers have been too positive, even when advising you outright to reject the article in the version they had a look at.
In my opinion, they’ve not sufficiently emphasized the basic flaw of the article. I’m sure their sometimes detailed remarks on statistical execution are valid, but in fact the whole effort is fruitless. The rigor that statistics suggest should not detract from false precision and irrelevance in the first place.
My (almost) final remark is that you should have a look at the article yourself. Don’t take me too seriously. :-)
Of course I’d like to hear from you whether you found my comments fair, useful, etcetera.

Assuming you still ;-) don’t read Dutch, please look at a separate list of my English-language papers and other texts. A recent paper, Ontology for interdependency, is yet another attempt at arguing for my method Metapattern for disambiguating information models at whatever scale. It’s all very well to refer to postmodernism or whatever, but of course precision is required for reliable computerized information systems. Now with interconnectivity, there’s actually no limit to what could, respectively should count as a system. Accordingly, a qualitatively different modeling method is required. Without it, it simply doesn’t work.
My latest paper with PrimaVera is about civil information management, as I’ve coined what I consider the new IS discipline catering not directly to business information management, but generally to information engineering/management at the encompassing social scope. Of course, at such a scope, stretched to global size, a modeling method (context and time in information models) such as I’ve developed is even a prerequisite for necessary and sufficient rigor.
I’m afraid my initial writings on civil information management are still all in Dutch. The reason for doing so with the PV paper is that in order to clarify my points I’m liberally quoting from a Dutch collection of essays on urban design/city planning. There’s no lack of such literature in the English language, so in the future I’ll surely make use of some of those texts.
My aim is to help get a discipline of civil information management started and going. With that purpose, I’m soon having a meeting at Delft University. It is where I’ve originally studied and there now is a faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (which seems the right climate to ‘grow’ it). I’m sure it would also be an opportunity for your university to open up such a direction. Students could more easily discover their motivation, clearly recognize relevance, and for society there’s undeniably a both urgent and essential need for supporting social development from an appropriate IS perspective, too.
Should you want to explore some ideas, please let me know.

It hinges upon the need for a fundamental reorientation in order to accommodate the newly relevant scale of information traffic. Don't say I'm not being ambitious. Anyway, I find I'm only being realistic.

The decay of flowering is the flowering of decay, not a contragram? We've gone over it before ... your criteria for what counts as a valid contragram are (much) stricter than, if not altogether different from, what I seem to apply. ;-) Perhaps an explanation is that I'm more of a designer than you are. I don't know, but I tend to be happy with some inspiration. Then, connecting the concepts of flowering and decay does help to gain additional overview. It opens up additional design space. For me, a contragram as a statement doesn't have to be 'right' (as truth is illusory, anyway). It's the behavioral direction that I appreciate in configuring concepts in the contragram fashion.

introductory remark:
The following note is mainly an abridgement of On benefiting from Metapattern.

I have taken the liberty of addressing you, as Google’s co-founder and President Technology, directly with this short message. My invention is Metapattern.
At first sight Metapattern looks like next-generation information modeling, only. Closer inspection demonstrates it to touch upon most personal and business — and government, for that matter — aspects of information management, greatly improving interdependency management & control.
Metapattern puts forward a novel concept of context. Then, the pervasive articulation of both multiple contexts and temporal differentiation disambiguates information at whatever integrated scale. In my opinion it provides a powerful paradigm for especially a global firm such as Google to comprehensively service existing and new customers.
Metapattern adds precision of precoordination to search.
I don’t want to bother you at this stage with details about Metapattern’s contextual turn and how, most importantly, it can assist reinventing markets. Let me just indicate that Metapattern makes unambiguous modeling possible across so-called universes of discourse (also read: communities of practice, domains). It features a qualitatively enhanced, comprehensive order of integration, answering to practical requirements for authentic, reusable information resources to span people, organizations, processes, perspectives, etc. Metapattern supplies requisite variety in information management.
I am sure you recognize that a genuine paradigm shift is both difficult and easy to grasp. No amount of detail suffices as long as an obsolete paradigm continues to be applied for explanation. Yet, after acknowledging changing information requirements throughout our interactional societies, well, Metapattern is even obvious.
Metapattern, properly deployed, should give Google an additional strategic edge competing with — the likes of — Microsoft, SAP, etcetera.
Supporting Metapattern’s analysis method, KnitbITs as developed by Information Dynamics (Netherlands) is a technical platform to match the paradigm shift operationally. Rather than replacing traditional middleware, KnitbITs leverages state-of-the-art components throughout. It protects investments — and allows for gradual change — while promoting opportunities from limitless information scope.
KnitbITs can be seamlessly integrated with existing Google products, leveraging their potential.
The Internet exemplifies what may seem the problem of, but in reality is the opportunity for, coordinating semantic differentiation regardless of scope. Metapattern/KnitbITs is now the only practical solution for integration at the emerging level of a civil informational infrastructure.
I would welcome an exchange to explore collaboration.

Thank you for letting me have a preview of your chapter, which I've now carefully studied. I guess I should just be straightforward — isn’t that what scientists should be, and welcome? — about seriously regretting that any reference to my work is missing.
For I completely agree with your fundamental criticism of the conduit model. Then the question aimed at a constructive contribution is: What is a more appropriate basic model?
I find that my dissertation clearly suggests it. And I’ve elaborated upon it in several subsequent essays. You might compare your figure 1 (a reproduction of Shannon’s model of communication) with, for example, figure 4 in my paper Dia-enneadic framework for information concepts.
The dia-enneadic model supplies so-called requisite variety for explaining, and developing, social interactions. I am not aware of any other model combining such coverage (relevance) with rigor. Can you tell my why nobody (else) pays attention?
From vested business, government and academic interests, i.e. often a practical interest in keeping coverage as limited as possible, I’m afraid it is perfectly understandable that such a genuinely wider paradigm is simply ignored. Still, that doesn’t make it right, especially academically not. Or less stupid, short-sighted from a business and a government perspective. I’m sure that once you’ve had a proper look, it should even be easy to recognize opportunities from the direction I am pioneering. Please let me know when there’s something you want clarified from Dia-enneadic framework for information concepts and/or related texts.

My friend kindly referred me to your effort to develop a unified context methodology. In fact, such a method has already been developed by me. It is called Metapattern. See my book Metapattern: context and time in information models (Addison-Wesley, 2001). On my website you'll find several articles on Metapattern. A short formal introduction, The Pattern of Metapattern, is reproduced from my book and available from Amsterdam University.
I had a look at the ucm project page. Yes, of course I'm interested in cooperating. At this stage, what seems most valuable is that you should have an independent look at Metapattern. Indeed, my claim is that, since about 1990, I have done much work that you are setting out to do. But then, you should first of all judge its value for yourself. :-)
Perhaps there is an opportunity to meet in the near future. I've learned many lessons over the years while trying to diffuse what essentially is a new paradigm for information management. Because it is only by sharing such experiences that a paradigm ever becomes widely accepted, I've made my publications available. They include notes, mostly taken from correspondence. To get an idea of the myriad of aspects you might find it especially helpful to glance through those rather informal notes on Metapattern (see also my website).
For your general orientation you might find On benefiting from Metapattern helpful. An even shorter (and earlier) introductory text is Innovation dynamics across theory, technology and tool.
When there is some material that you want me to have a look at, please let me know.

I am most happy to return the honour. Thank you for writing me! I am of course most pleased to learn that some key Metapattern ideas are being put to practice.
I couldn’t agree more that contextual differentiation is an absolute requisite for ISO20022, too. It simply is a matter of catering for requisite variety. Indeed, it seems ‘politically’ wise to limit initial use of such a standard to a familiar domain (in this case, “financial industry”). However, the method for contextual differentiation should right away be generic, i.e. regardless of uses. So, yes, I clearly recognize, and acknowledge, your effort of letting UN/CEFACT converge with ISO20022.
Regarding process calculus, I haven’t attempted to map Metapattern in detail. Actually, my design ‘intuition’ suggests that pervasive differentiation on the basis of context includes decomposition, respectively reorientation of the process concept.
Then, conversation/session is one context (type) among many, many more.
At this point I would like to apologize for what you must experience as a lack of expertise in several fields. Don’t hesitate to point out any errors I may have committed in answering you.
But since you’ve asked … :-) You’ve mentioned “a very large distributed computing system.” Metapattern lets you design such a system as part of … an overall system (with dense interconnectivity, we’re moving in the direction of a civil informational infrastructure), so that you can reuse information already specified elsewhere in relevant contexts. It may sound paradoxical, but innovation with Metapattern will get you the highest mileage from legacy ‘systems.’ Reconceptualizing each existing system as a specific context already goes a long way to disambiguate at the level of necessary integration. After securing such (initial) overall order, you may then analyse real differences (for which separate contexts should be maintained) and duplicates (where contexts could, and should, be merged).
Again, my hunch is that along the way you’ll also reposition what you take for ‘conversation.’
I realise that such a design approach might first appear as a detour. I find it never fails to pay off, though.
If you’ll excuse my blunt denial, there is no “primary context.” Every behavior is situational, making every text … contextual. You can substitute information for text. It follows that the means for contextualizing information is, yet again, information.
Only such a generic principle leads to a straightforward formalism for context.
Dr Martijn Houtman is the expert in our small r&d company Information Dynamics on translating Metapattern as method into the software engineering formalism for actual performance as a tool for IS integration. Perhaps your expert and dr Houtman could also exchange ideas between them (for us to read admiringly :-); we are certainly keen to contribute to innovation. It looks like your new system requires a fundamental (re)integration of authentication (identity management), authorization, work flow (process, conversation, …), and ‘content’ information.
I am looking forward to continuing our contact. Thank you again for your inspiring message.

In the UCM - Requirements List it explicitly says: "This project will start from the current context mechanism described in the Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS)." I'd be most grateful if you could provide us with a direct reference to where that context mechanism is specified. Then, we should be able to analyze how it generally compares to Metapattern. That shouldn't take long.
See also item 13.118 from my notes. It emphasizes how, for securing optimal requisite variety, I consider context a variable, relative concept

I've started my ontologically oriented analysis. As I now see it, CCTS's concept of "core component" is rather the opposite of what Metapattern treats as an object's core (calling it nil identity). It follows from such quite different assumptions that the contextual mechanisms are essentially different, too. What remains is for me to argue for Metapattern's approach ... ;-)
To be continued.

Please let me know when my questions are becoming a nuisance.;-) At least we’re making a serious effort trying to understand CCTS and how UCM could be developed.
On page 107 of CCTS’s version 3.0, immediately below figure 9-1, it reads (line 3658): ”The CCs have no context independent of their use.” What does the statement explain, right there? Or is it in general, more or less randomly placed, a succinct rephrasing of CCTS’s assumption that core concepts (section 5.1.1, lines 497-498) “convey a distinct meaning, independent of any specific context”?
At the start of section 9.5 it reads (lines 3715-3716): ”Context categories exist to allow users to uniquely identify and distinguish between different business contexts.” I would say that uniqueness is guaranteed by … the Unique Identifier for Business Context. Then, where it says “so as to define” in (section 9.3, lines 3673-3674) “Each business context will contain the combination of values for all approved context categories so as to define a meaningful business context,” I understand it as ‘specifying.’ Is such understanding correct? I would say so from the lines immediately following (3674-3676): “Each business context will contain a value for each defined context category in order to describe the business context in an unambiguous and formal way.” In this instance, I understand “defined” as ‘relevant.’ And “describe” as ‘specify.’ Am I still acknowledging the intent of CCTS’s  context mechanism? (As you'll appreciate, I want to make sure for a fair comparison with Metapattern, later on.)
Let me just neutrally remark that two or more different Unique Identifiers for Business Context may ‘contain’ identical specifications through category types with corresponding values. Am I right? Or did I miss an explanation on control?
The category of “Systems Capabilities Context” (9.5.8) seems of a different order. Other categories all seem fitted for an external orientation, i.e. modeling what exists outside, before etc. of digital information processing. That’s what I would consider semantics (rather, pragmatics, but I don’t want to go into that here). Then, system capabilities reflect an orientation toward the tool(s) for information processing. When you want to call that context, too, by all means. But from my perspective that is a context in ... a different context. Or am I completely off target with such an interpretation? Is this category also externally oriented, sort of a reserve category for what the other categories cannot capture (and applying the general label of system for that purpose)?
Hmmm, yes, aggregation ... and how it relates to abstraction. Along those lines it seems that UCM might achieve greater efficiency than the context mechanism so far proposed as part of CCTS. However, with my preoccupation I can only properly sketch it from the Metapattern perspective. I hope to write up an outline and send it before your group meeting later this month.

That you didn’t reply “because we are in agreement” goes to show the need for situational/contextual differentiation. My impression was that you (also) asked for some advice on which I subsequently spent some time to write up. So, I did expect some reaction. That is, even subjective situationism ...
The inverse relationship between scope and precision in meaning is formally acknowledged by metapattern through the concept of nil identity, i.e. behaviorless behavior. It allows for variable scoping.
For subjective situationism I've developed a formal framework, the semiotic ennead. It helps to distinguish, for example, between situation and context. Correspondingly, behavior and concept are different ... concepts.
Then, behavior concerns an object's specific situatedness, whereas intext reflects a sign's specific contextuality.
The basic question, therefore, is whether you consider conversation a situation, or a context. It depends. To begin with, I would say that the (re)presentation of a conversation is a context. An object's behavior as exhibited in a conversation-as-situation corresponds to a sign's intext in a conversation-as-context.
Mixing dimensions of object and sign muddles information processing.
A distinction between behavior as dynamic and attribute as static is unnecessary. An attribute can also be considered behavior, with static merely a boundary case of dynamic. Such abstraction helps to optimize compactness of formalism.
Yes, of course, conversation, too, should be open to dynamics in relevant directions. While time could be considered some aspect of situation, it practically helps to deal with its representation in its own right.
Please note that at the time of thinking up the subtitle for my book Metapattern, I didn't yet clearly make the enneadic distinction implying the three main dimensions of object, sign and interpretation.
The ennead merges ontology, epistemology and semiotics. Their irreducibility rules.
Of course, we cannot escape emphasis, or focus, as one of the ennead's nine elements is called. Despite some focus, interdependency remains. So, I am trying to understand how you might mean "existence" to differ from "being." I would position both along the object dimension, treating them as synonyms. A model when considered a sign should be placed along, of course, the sign dimension. When a model is treated as an(other) object, ... Then, its metamodel is the model-as-sign. And so on, when required.
Recognizing the opportunity for synonyms, as it were lifts primary classification. What is the situation that makes you behave using the term existence, rather that being, or the other way around? After such situations have been identified with (more) precision, the need for different terminology is less pressing.
A conversation-as-situation is strictly ontological, too, is what I take as your sense of ontology. It may occur from other situations, making it an effect. I wouldn't call it "complementary."
I'm probably missing your point completely. If so, I'd appreciate very much your explanation.
Meanwhile, I'm most curious about your actual, practical model for the "very large distributed computing system at a bank." A consistent approach on the basis of metapattern might offer a quality jump in compactness, flexibility, etc.

When you're really serious, and I'm afraid you are, about it not being "possible for [you] to fundamentally change the CCTS concept," it seems I have no (more) contributions to make to UCM. We should agree to disagree at the earliest opportunity. For without precisely such a change in paradigm, I find CCTS irrelevant, even counterproductive. And logically my critical evaluation extends to any UCM developed in association (which by default is essentially not unified).
Please appreciate my escalation into such blunt phrasing. I want to make sure that I've made all reasonable effort to communicate my opinion and advice. Yet, I also acknowledge as your predicament as a chairman that you might favor keeping the members of your working group happy, which amounts to ignoring an outsider's tightly argued advice about relevance and rigor. Then again, I don't want to be an insider when I consider your 'in' completely 'off.' I prefer to stay 'out' as long as you continue to head in the wrong direction, i.e. away from requisite variety. I'm sure that you understand my motive.
Let me add that I do enjoy our most courteous correspondence.
You're again very kind, now stating that you "find [my] work very interesting." Frankly, however, I don't have the impression that any of your "experts" actually had a look at Metapattern, let alone a serious look. What one member of your working group recently wrote me was only his emphasis on what I take as CCTS' essentially flawed assumptions and subsequent structure. Immediately another member enthusiastically applauded him for it. So, all they did was confirm my critical analysis and urgent constructive recommendations. Nowhere could I recognize even the faintest hint they had been trying to grasp Metapattern. After the effort I spent on CCTS, I felt their preoccupation disappointing, if not quite alarming.
I'd appreciate it when you don't put my name etc. on any list without my permission. As it seems we'll be working in essentially different directions I trust that you immediately remove me from your list(s).
I will be looking forward, though, to you and whatever experts engaging in an analysis of Metapattern, just as I've tried to first of all understand what CCTS is basically about, and what not. Now I can see that reaching a fundamental insight that is almost opposite to CCTS is far from easy. It is especially difficult for CCTS adepts, of course. For what I propose is a genuine paradigm shift. It usually first meets with denial. How your “experts in the domain” of CCTS reacted is regretfully no exception (and, please note, such different, sometimes or often contradictory behaviors across situations in fact undermine CCTS and prove Metapattern's point!).
Sooner or later you may come to realize you’re only solidifying irrelevance while trying to develop an UCM from CCTS. When you do arrive at what, in my opinion, I’ve solidly argued as an inevitable conclusion (but you do need to move to the qualitatively different paradigm, first), please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I don't have time for marginal contributions, only. My priorities are different. Different?!

As I understand your messages, it seems I've primarily inspired you to improve your own documentation. ;-) You have also confirmed my understanding of CCTS' basics, and therefore how I see its essential flaws. Of course I regret that you didn't at all enter into discussing my arguments. Are you considering any reply?

As promised, I’m happy to send you a reference to the semiotic ennead. See Information metatheory. There, you may first of all want to have a look at figure 4. My idea is that it could supply you with a (meta)model against which to project your own framework. That would certainly be an elegant, extremely powerful synthesis.
I realize the paper I’ve mentioned above in particular is a dense piece of writing, so please don’t hesitate to request clarification where you may need it.
My website includes a separate index page with references to my English-language texts.

Yes, I am fully aware of how difficult “a standardization process” usually is. It actually is an important reason why I cannot afford to be structurally involved. For nobody is paying me a salary to do so. And as a self-employed volunteer, my resources are indeed limited.
As much as I appreciate that “a lot of stakeholders” may feel an urgent need to protect “investments made,” my logical analysis of CCTS reveals that in reality a return is illusory. I wish I could put it in a more diplomatic fashion.
The prospect of “an uproar” doesn’t impress me as an argument for sticking to an essentially flawed structure, on the contrary. Isn’t it always best to change course when it still is possible to avoid failure? When people don’t want to listen it is their responsibility. But I find that I’m responsible for at least bringing out my arguments. (And, yes, I recognize that in the short run I’m giving you a harder time; but I’d hate to see you going off the wrong direction with UCM.)
How such stakeholders seem to deal with “backward compatibility” suggests a defensive attitude toward innovation, ... which of course in practice yields stagnation, only. That’s precisely why it is taking so long ...
I’m sure that Einstein’s first concern when he hit upon his theory of relativity was not at all being backward compatible with Newton’s physical science. For genuine innovation, you have to be prepared to shift paradigm. As it almost never fails, though, the newer paradigm encompasses the older as one possible, simple case.
As I see it, your experts are missing the point of Metapattern by right away seeing it as a possible threat to “their investments.” Instead of outright ignoring it, they could seriously study it while, say, bracketing, the approach they’ve become familiar with. For it is impossible to understand Einstein’s theory from Newton’s perspective, period. You have to allow yourself Einstein’s perspective.
Yes, that is difficult. Especially difficult is the change in attitude. Otherwise, Metapattern’s formalism is actually straightforward, in fact far more compact than what CCTS entails. But then again, nobody said it would be easy to solve the problem of semantics (rather: pragmatics) in the open society.
After gaining an understanding of Metapattern on its own terms (!), CCTS will appear in a new perspective, too. “Backward compatibility” will no doubt be relatively easily accommodated.
I’d like to emphasize that existing libraries can continue to be used. In fact, it exemplifies the variable concept of context (and time). In each case, a relevant context will simply be specified for unambiguous positioning in the larger semantic order.
Please note that it is impossible to gradually move from CCTS to Metapattern as a paradigm. For example, in analytical geometry there is no space between that of two dimensions and three dimensions. It is one or the other. It requires a shift. Two-dimensional ‘objects’ will always fit in three dimensional space, but not the other way around. After the shift, CCTS can be emulated as some simple case for Metapattern, which is as backward compatible as anyone could want!
Don’t worry.
Thank you for extending me the compliment — anyway, I’d like to see it as such ;-) — that you “should draw upon [Metapattern] to the extent it is possible.” I hope that you have some appreciation that you cannot pick and choose some loose parts. The proper “extent” is to adopt its principles, i.e. shift paradigm.
Now there’s an idea! Killing two birds with one stone, why don’t you ground CCTS’ “implementation verification” on Metapattern? You would thereby rescue CCTS as a brand while offering requisite variety.
Yet, I am also aware that I am asking the impossible of non-designers. You have to be open to a fundamentally different insight.
What managers are instead often asking from designers/innovators is that they close themselves. However, there is no conflict at all between the manager’s need for control and the designer’s innovation. For in an increasingly varied world control is at risk precisely without such innovation.
”Backward compatibility” certainly sounds as reflecting a responsible attitude. It depends. When a paradigm no longer supplies so-called requisite variety, it should be labeled backward itself. Retaining it is irresponsible. Realistic control requires the paradigm shift.
From experience I don’t believe it is possible to convince “stakeholders” during a “telephone conference” to subsequently exhibit and practice an open attitude to paradigm shift. Instead, at least one of the members of the working group should first of all study Metapattern, rather than repeating what (s)he considers CCTS. Perhaps a vendor’s employee (SAP?) could have a ‘closer’ look. Then we should take it from there ... When a vendor recognizes strategic advantage, some resources might become available. At the moment, I don’t have any to spare other than time spent corresponding with you.
When you think that standardization is a slow process, try a genuine paradigm shift.

The gist of Metapattern's (visualized) formalism is presented in The pattern of metapattern: ontological formalization of context and time for open interconnection which essentially is a reproduction of part I of my earlier book.

An IS weekly periodical here in the Netherlands recently featured an interview with you (Automatisering Gids, September 21st, 2007, p. 11). I take your remarks explaining your company’s Global Technology Outlook as an invitation to renew my attempt to draw IBM’s interest to my innovation Metapattern.
Speaking about a global outlook, Metapattern supplies the cornerstone for — a vision on — managing informational interactions, information resources etcetera at a social scale. See for example my paper Civil information management, a short introduction.
My previous contact, starting early 2006, was through A (Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology) who promptly replied: “Very interesting indeed.” Some correspondence followed, a.o. with B (Senior Vice President & Director of Research) and C (Department Group Manager Information and Knowledge Management). I was notified that D (Knowledge Structures Group) would study Metapattern. When after some time I inquired after the result, C informed me that “[he had] received a report from [D] regarding his evaluation of the potential for a collaboration around Metapattern. Unfortunately, we do not feel there is sufficient intersection of technical interests to warrant such a collaboration.”
Now I would certainly recognize D’s authority on ontology. My feeling, however, is that he still applies what I’ve analyzed in detail as constituting an outdated paradigm, in fact essentially unfit for a productive “global outlook.” From calling it a particular paradigm, I’m afraid it only follows that he cannot properly recognize benefits of Metapattern as indeed it implies a paradigm shift. As you quite rightly mentioned in your interview, "Look in the waste basket for really innovative ideas with great business potential." You might say that Metapattern, software included, is lying in some waste basket, waiting for discovery and profitable application.
Of course it seems reasonable to let an ‘old’ expert evaluate an idea. Such expertise becomes of course an obstacle for recognizing a ‘new’ idea, i.e. a fundamental innovation such as Metapattern.
From my paper on civil information management you should get the perspective of both, say, renovating the market for IS and significantly enlarging it. I would say that especially IBM is in the right position to promote truly infrastructural IS. Including Metapattern in your portfolio makes such an outlook immediately practical for your company. I'd welcome an opportunity to discuss collaboration.

Your (morning) presentation, and our subsequent conversation, in Amsterdam on November 23rd at ICIM 2007 inspired me to do a lot of ‘homework.’ Thank you for coming over!
I’ve gone over your chapters in Information Management: Setting the Scene (Elsevier, 2007) several times. And you’ve helped me to finally pick up and read through what Maturana and Varela wrote on autopoiesis.
At first I thought that I should draw up a detailed analysis around how you apply autopoiesis. For I believe that already the concept itself is unproductively inconsistent and, in fact, you don’t need it at all for your own purpose (unless you want to benefit promotionally from its current popularity ;-) Indeed, I recognize many occurrences in your texts where you yourselves firmly distract from autopoiesis’ original conceptualization, i.e. rightfully attempt to mitigate it to fit what I structurally call an ontology for interdependency (steps to an ecology of information management).
Upon second thoughts I decided to leave such criticism for now. And as I announced when we met, I did want to follow up on our meeting soon.;-) When I subsequently read up — for which I visited both your websites — on your respective research interests I struck on a constructive approach.
I would very much appreciate it when you could have a look at a paper I recently published at PrimaVera (University of Amsterdam): Civil information management. My idea is that I’m proposing a structural framework for information management that you are also reaching out for. Shifting the Scene, as it were.
When you feel, as I actually expect, that my introductory paper reinforces your own work by suggesting directions for information management ‘in a new key,’ perhaps we could jointly explore further developmental activities.



November 2006 – December 2007, web edition 2007 © Pieter Wisse