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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debunker of the IT myths and legends, 15 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Infosense: Understanding Information to Survive in the Knowledge Society (Hardcover)
This is the book that nails many of the myths and misconceptions of the IT industry. Perhaps if enough people read this they'll have to go back to talking about Data Processing!
Devlin provides crystal clear reasoning (and some supporting mathematical reasoning) as to why information is the product of a person interacting with data (that is, data in any form - even a Word document or a photograph - contains no information of itself) and how knowledge is a characteristic of a person not a system. He effectively debunks all of the claims of the IT-based "knowledge" toolset vendors and explains why expert systems fail. The examples of how context affects interpretation are excellent - and horrifying.
Should be compulsory reading in IT and HR departments throughout the land.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New tools, easy to use, 6 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Infosense: Understanding Information to Survive in the Knowledge Society (Hardcover)
I think that to be useful, any new, breakthrough analytic tool should enable me to describe the past in a brand new way, and then based on that, say something new about the future. It should, as it were, enable me to look backward over the horizon, uncover a pattern that's never been seen before, and then look forward over the horizon to show, for all future instances, that this pattern will remain the same. If the new analytic tool is also an engineering breakthrough, I should find it very easy to apply. The tools that Keith Devlin describes for the first time for the general public, in his new book "InfoSense: Turning Information into Knowledge," satisfy these criteria. He looks backward over the horizon to clarify the "liar paradox" of the ancient Greeks. Then he looks forward over the horizon to say things about the emerging global infrastructure of computers. In both cases, he applies new tools to discover a pattern that's evident in "information." So to check on their ease of application, I applied the tools myself. I looked at another puzzle from the ancient Greeks, a fragment from Parmenides' writings that survived later book burnings-- "...the same thing is for thinking and being." First, Devlin says to look for the "infon." Deep in the bibliography there's mathematics that, in fact, connected infons have the structure of rigorous thought. Then Devlin says to look for the "situation" that supports the infon and categorize its type. (Together, the infon and its supporting situation determine the information that's conveyed.) Situations about which I can think, and which are of the type in which I can "be," comprise any situation that exists and of which I'm conscious. Most generally, the type of these situations would be those that involve "life," as a matter of fact, those that involve my life. But, really, isn't that just one situation-- the situation in which I exist? On this account, I get "Life-- I can think about it or I can be it." OK, for a backward look over the horizon that seems easy enough. But what about the future? With a score of books under his belt Keith Devlin can be classified as a prolific author. I, for one, look forward to what he's going to say next. For those who might also want to keep tabs, I think "InfoSense: Turning Information into Knowledge" provides the perfect foundation.
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