TITLE: Knowing and Seeing AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 30, 2004 11:26 AM DESC: Software people can learn a lot from sociologists and philosophers of science. I'm glad some of them work in the guise of software developers. ----- BODY: Brian Marick's talk on methodology work as ontology work sounds more forbidding than it is. His central point is this: whenever adopt a particular software development approach, or create a new one (that's the methodology part), we implicitly take on, or promote, a particular way of seeing the world (that's the ontology part). One implication of this is that communication between folks in different methodology camps -- say, XPers and more traditional software engineers -- is often difficult precisely because these folks see the world differently. They can look at the same project or team or testing scenario and see different things. To help such folks communicate better, you must often help them to build a common vocabulary, or at least recognize the names collisions in their individual vocabularies. Coming to know is to change how we perceive the world. Those of us in AI community came to learn this up close and personal through the 1970s, '80s, and early '90s. While many of us built useful and usable knowledge-based systems using techniques that codify knowledge in the form of rules or other explicit structures, we soon learned the limits of these approaches. Experts don't have rules for doing their job; they just do it. The same is true for everyday knowledge. You don't have an algorithm for determining whether you are tired. You merely know it. Merely. In learning, you lose the rules and learn to see something new. Another implication of this view is that we can often use perception to drive behavior better than rule-based prescriptions. Brian gave two examples: As always, I liked Brian's talk for his broad scholarship and skills making connections. For example, I learned that scientists like research programs: We have a lot to learn from the philosophy of science. -----