Workshop Rationale and Perspective

PORT's 2001 workshop on the Semantic Web (see http://www.ksl.Stanford.EDU/iccs2001/), in a joint session with the Semantic Web Workshop, examined the augmentation now proposed for the next step in evolution of the Web, in which vast amounts of information resources (as data, documents, and programs) will be enhanced with descriptive information, or metadata, so that "the meaning, usage, accessibility or quality-validity of web resources will considerably facilitate automated processing of available Web content/services" (The ICS-FORTH RDFSuite: High-level Scalable Tools for the Semantic Web, This year, our workshop will explore how Peirce's pragmatism indicates the need to go beyond that understanding of information resources, towards creating a Pragmatic Web.

The time it takes a computer to draw new conclusions from data, metadata and ontologies on the Web increases rapidly as systems grow in complexity. Because these "brute-force searches for answers could lead to time-wasting paradoxes or contradictions," Berners-Lee cautions that Semantic-Web building should not advance too fast, giving time for theoretical examination "to make sure we're not too crazy," and for checking out ideas in practice "before they're picked up and used too extensively" (see Technology Review, http://www.technologyreview.com/magazine/nov01/frauenfelder2.asp).

Human reasoning can operate pragmatically, in this way, to avoid what Peirce calls "blocking the road of inquiry," in the evolution of knowledge, and any sincere technological effort to advance computing technology for collaboration must theoretically comprehend and methodologically facilitate that continuity of inquiry. Knowledge processing technology will effectively serve collaborative inquiry only if we can pragmatically engage in continually improving its innovations to meet newly discovered purposes as they evolve in actual contexts of inquiry. In reaching a Pragmatic Web, augmentation for improving the conduct of inquiry will not derive from technological advancements automatically; human habits must concurrently evolve by self-critical awareness, which is the purpose of pragmatism as Peirce introduces it in terms of semiotic logic.

Consequently, a continuing challenge in PORT development is to distinguish which inference processes in knowledge representation require human reasoning and which are better served by automated reasoning, as knowledge processing technology evolves, to accomplish effective partnerships between human and machine intelligence in any particular context of operation. As technology advances, that distinction will evolve, and we must remain pragmatically aware of what processes we automate. Observing the theme of this year's conference, PORT's workshop will stress interface and integration issues of this challenge in designing and devising PORT's collaboratory infrastructure. We will concentrate on examining the validity and value of Peircean principles for guidance in these issues as we demonstrate and discuss candidate technologies for collaborative authoring, editing, indexing, and continuous testbed-system improvement. What constitutes improvement is a pragmatic, not a semantic question, for which we will need a Pragmatic Web.

Workshop Plan and Content

To create a collaboratory, PORT's virtual community of scholars and technologists must define and relate the following components:

-- operational processes (image capturing, transcription, indexing, editing, archiving, etc.) and
-- testbed development processes (for continuous improvement or evolution of operational processes)
-- a normative science research program to investigate the conditions required for improvement

For the workshop, we will identify the testbed context in terms of (1) workflows (2) evolutionary processes (3) tools, with tools categorized as:

-- CG-Tools (WebKB, PEIRCE, etc.)
-- PORT-Tools (Chasid, CODA, Raptor, etc.)
-- Testbed-Tools (AUGMENT, RENISYS, etc.)

Our workshop discussion agenda will include process definition, tool customization, and tool interface and integration within the testbeds (including: CG-tools with CG-Tools, CG-Tools with PORT-Tools, and CG and PORT tools).

We will explicate leading principles for interface and integration efforts from Peirce's theoretical work, particularly his essays on pragmatism (which will be distributed by email to all participants in advance). Workshop discussion will include:

1. Identifying Peircean concepts applicable to the PORT project.
2. Formulating definitions for each of these PORT-Peircean concepts, and
3. Explaining
    a. why each concept ought to be included in PORT.
    b. how each concept should be applied in PORT (including examples of how it might apply)

PORT's purpose is to become a model for online inquiry, which according to Peirce's semiotic theory of inquiry begins with abduction. We must learn to conceive all elements of PORT as possibilities, whether they are documents, tools, requirements, or definitions: all are identifiable as arguments (or ideas expressed in argument form). In these terms, judgments from inference based on conditional propositions express the goal-oriented nature of any idea or innovation. In a Pragmatic Web, everything would be viewed as an argument, or set of related inferences that could be recognized by someone as an argument. Then representation systems like CG and FCA make sense as structuring/processing formalisms, for experimenting with ideas. "[O]ne can make exact experiments upon uniform diagrams; and when one does so, one must keep a bright lookout for unintended and unexpected changes thereby brought about in the relations of different significant parts of the diagram to one another. Such operations upon diagrams, whether external or imaginary, take the place of the experiments upon real things" [CP, 4.530]. While semantic relations are simply hypertext dictionaries imposed on the operating system, pragmatic relations are arguments imposed on the system, which we can examine for their logical validity and reliability, selecting them for their goal-related meaning, and observing their tendency in evolution during the growth of ideas.

Going beyond the usual Information Science approach, which assumes that a requirements document must cover everything that is not tacit knowledge, Peirce's theory holds that learning derives from continuing to explicate tacit knowledge, and since we can never express all tacit knowledge we must consider the explication process as an endless series of requirements documents (or arguments) for an ever-improving system. We must keep trying to extend our explicit knowledge as we go along, realizing that there is always more to learn as systems are tested and improved. Pragmatic theory tells us that when we simply relegate something unknown to "unknowable," or "intuition," we "block the road of inquiry." A Pragmatic Web would continue to demonstrate the evolution of knowledge.

This year's workshop will work toward that demonstration by introducing two components for PORT's infrastructure, inspired by our workshop speakers last year (Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Lenoir). These research facilities must evolve as foundations for reporting, tracking, and mapping PORT's work (as themes, inquiries, experiments, and any tool-related activity). In rePORT facility, reports will be composed in the traditional manner, and then structured in hypertext to distinguish knowledge modules or nodes, with different author/editorships, creating virtual "rePORTs" of different kinds, serving the different needs of users. In ePORT, the rePORT archives along with the image data of Peirce's original manuscripts will constitute the data for PORT's collaboratory to research, develop, and test practical strategies for a globally accessible, archivable, interactive and evolving collaborative environment for the PORT community, as a model in Pragmatic Web development.

Participants submitted papers introducing tools (or any other "arguments") in terms of how it might contribute to the PORT resource development testbed context.

The Workshop Organizing Committee

Murray Altheim m.altheim@open.ac.uk
Aldo de Moor AdeMoor@kub.nl

Jens Erik-Mai


Felix Gatzemeier


Eugene Kim


Kathryn La Barre

Philippe Martin phmartin@meganesia.int.gu.edu.au
Jack Park jackpark@thinkalong.com
Simon Polovina


Uta Priss upriss@indiana.edu

Arno Puder

Gary Richmond garyrichmond@rcn.com
Janos Sarbo


Henrik Scharfe


Bill Tepfenhart


Mary Keeler mkeeler@u.washington.edu