In dealing with complex systems in my previous employment, we used data dictionaries, or metadata repositories to define important terms. The IBM Dictionary of Computing defines such a dictionary as a "centralized repository of information about data such as meaning, relationships to other data, origin, usage, and format.”
Why did we need such and engineering tool? We needed these tools to make sure that our customer and our engineering were all speaking the same language to describe the functions, components, or desired action of a weapon system, especially the software that controlled the hardware. As a conceptual designer and new business development manager my job was to make sure that our design team and the customer were both speaking the same language, thus the development of a data dictionary. We wrote down the meanings of words, the relationship to the system, the usage of those works, and formats of how they would be displayed. Then, we all signed off on the dictionary, customers and engineers. We were in agreement. Sometimes we were dealing with a few sheets of paper or a document larger than a telephone directory.
When I attended one of the Sierra Business Council Leadership Training Seminars lead by Susan Carpenter, who was an excellent facilitator, it was evident to me that within the class the liberals and conservative were talking past each other. We were all using the same words, but those works had different meanings, depending on our political orientation. After explaining the metadata concept to Susan, we agreed to work on a metadata dictionary for future training seminars, but in our busy lives we never got together again.
Now Steven Frisch, Sierra Business Council, has suggested a blogging truce among our local conservative and liberal bloggers and those that comment on these blogs. His proposal can be found in this pdf: Frisch-Proposal_03_29_11rws
I encourage all readers to read and comment on Steve’s proposal, but first let me explain my concerns with his proposal. Liberal and conservatives see the world from a different perspective, and while we often use the same words, those words have different meanings. For example, I might call someone a socialist, because they are reciting socialist philosophy. Whereas the person I am referring to thinks my use of the word “socialist” is an attack on his or her person, to be labeled as such. We have a disagreement in the use of the term socialist. Unfortunately this list of words and their associated meanings could be quite hefty given the number disagreeable terms already identified.
Let’s say we did arrive at a local blogging metadata repository, I do not want to spend my blogging time analyzing everything I write and every comment that is posted on my blog to assure that the words used are consistent with the Nevada County Bloggers Metadata File. Then there is the question of timing. Many times I do not get to read all the comments until the end of the day, how long can an offending word be allowed, before I am accused of not being responsive? Worse yet, if I miss one or two comments containing disputed words and phrases, then I will be accused of being bad person for failing to comply with the terms of the truce. I am open to another point of view on this truce proposal, but I am not interested in being a word policeman on my own blog day in and day out.
George Rebane at Rebane’s Ruminations also has some appropriate thoughts on Frisch’s proposal, which I think are worth considering and discussing. George’s topics are often an intellectual challenge for some who comment, and when they lack the intellectual ammunition to respond to George, or a person submitting a comment, they choose to attack the writer’s motives, especially when they cannot deal with George’s sophisticated characterizations of events and participants. I am hoping that this truce proposal will encourage everyone to focus on the issues and not the motives or the character of the writer or those posting comments. As George writes, let us all be “churchillian” in our debate.