Content mining technology is based on the ability to identify and recognize PATTERNS in large information repositories. Whether it involves data, metadata, or a combination of the two, the concept of "pattern" is a mathematical one; and it is because of its mathematical nature that it can be readily manipulated by powerful software. Nevertheless, this is a dangerously limited interpretation of the concept of "pattern," which can only impede efforts to engage software to facilitate the management of those repositories, whether they constitute a digital library or someone's favorite collection of photographs. If we wish to develop more powerful software, we must begin by acknowledging that patterns are not strictly OBJECTIVE (and thus susceptible to mathematical modeling) but also SUBJECTIVE and SOCIAL. As SUBJECTIVE phenomena, patterns are FLUID, their treatment of time is qualitatively different from that of space, and they deal not just with ARTIFACTS but also with the ACTS OF MAKING those artifacts. As SOCIAL phenomena, patterns are CONSTRUCTED THROUGH INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATIVE ACTS. Consequently, effective content mining demands analytic techniques that embrace the subjective and social worlds as well as the objective world of mathematics. While this constitutes an intimidating challenge to software development, it will be demonstrated that socio-technical systems in areas such as knowledge management can provide guidelines for taking a similar approach to content mining.
Stephen William Smoliar obtained his PhD in Applied Mathematics and his BSc in Mathematics from MIT. He has taught Computer Science at both the Technion, in Israel, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked on problems involving specification of distributed systems at General Research Corporation and has investigated expert systems development at both Schlumberger and the Information Sciences Institute (University of Southern California). Dr. Smoliar also has extensive background in music, having composed 36 works between 1969 and 1975, and is a former member of the Society for Music Theory. His main areas of research interest are in knowledge representation, perceptual categorization, and cognitive models. From May of 1991 until August of 1994, he led a project on video classification at the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore. From August of 1995 until May of 1999, he managed research programs in Multimedia and Communication and Collaboration at the FX Palo Alto Research Laboratory, after which he served as Knowledge Solutions Coordinator until May of 2004. During 2005 he was a member of the InfoBiz team at PARC with the mission of developing strategies for private-sector support of sensemaking research and technologies. He is currently an independent consultant and blogger, working on a book that addresses the conflict between scientific dogma and the human conditions.
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Added by mor on December 12, 2006