Ontological computing

Felipe Castel leads an engaging discussion about the concept of information and the role of computing in designing tasks and processes associated with information. Appears in Communications of the ACM, Volume 45, Number 2 (2002),

    A current issue within information design today is whether we should focus on designing information or designing interactions. In other words, should we design experiences or artifacts?


    Ontology is the way we carve up reality in order to understand and process it. Information, still a vague and generally misunderstood concept, is the product of that carving. It is the model we create of the world—in all its representational complexity. It is the model we ascribe to in computing; the structure we create in order to make sense of the world and communicate among ourselves. Information, we must realize, is functional (it has its purpose), artificial (man-made), and designed (created through specific choices).

    Why is this important? Why is it more than just academic, more than merely an interesting philosophical issue? The crux of the matter is we are moving away, rapidly and inexorably, from human computing. Computing is spilling out from the confines of user-centeredness from its human focus.


    The question is will information design in the end continue to help us come to grips with the nature of information—and by extension, with the nature of computing.

I have to start reading Communications more regularly.

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Don't bother

Communications kinda sucks. I received a year's worth of issues and read maybe two articles. That ontology issue was a fluke.

Mark Bernstein comments, 'Once indispensable and archival, now rarely worth a glance. Dumbed down to the level of BYTE, and dropping fast.'

Oh. That would explain why th

Oh. That would explain why this is the only thing from Communications that I've blogged in months. Well at least you don't have to pay to read it. And I automatically get alerts by email from my corporate library whenever any of my searches match against new articles. So no effort expended.