My story: Computer Assisted Collective Dialog


I recently met Alberto in an unrelated setting, and then discovered that he was the Alberto with whom I had interacted on Edgeryders 4 years ago.

The discussions about the Internet of Humans seem to be near to what drives me.

So I will first link to What I wrote in 2015 :

and add :
A main ingrediant of what I propose is :

  1. not to use words as the basic semantic unit, but “Word senses” , somewhat like WordNet but in a more radical way.

  2. context(s), in a specified format, is mandatory for any text or sentence.

That means some work at a basic level of software design. Not difficult, but structural.

This is a little short as an introduction, but it is late, and it is probably better that I reply to comments and questions rather that try to guess them.


This is the goal of Worldbrain, a really interesting project that both @julia and @allegra have collaborated with. Have you heard about it? It’s all open source too.


Yes. The goal is the same. I have installed Memex.
But as I said, words are not an adequate basic semantic unit. It leads to problems at many levels. For example : translation (unless you want to impose english as global language you have to learn if you want to participate). I my opinion what is needed is something like UNL, but more radical.

from Wikipedia :
“Universal Networking Language (UNL) is a declarative formal language specifically designed to represent semantic data extracted from natural language texts. It can be used as a pivot language in interlingual machine translation systems or as a knowledge representation language in information retrieval applications.”


This is a topic currently being explored by us in Edgeryders. Indeed, we will do multi-lingual ethnographic coding in the coming years. @amelia and @alberto, do you have any insights to share on that front?


Do you have any examples of what you mean by UNL in this context and how much more radical would you be?


To answer that question I will cite the “Scope and goals” section of the Wikipedia article
and add in line comments where my approach diverges. Normal font for common parts [italic for parts specific to UNL] [bold for parts specific to my approach].

UNL is designed to establish a simple foundation for representing [the most central aspects of] [, without preset constraints,] information and meaning in a machine- and human-language-independent form. As a language-independent formalism, UNL aims to code, store, disseminate and retrieve information independently of the original language in which it was expressed. In this sense, UNL seeks to provide tools for overcoming the language barrier in a systematic way.

At first glance, UNL seems to be a kind of interlingua, into which [source texts are] [live input is] converted before being translated into target languages. It can, in fact, be used for this purpose, and very efficiently, too. However, its real strength is knowledge representation and its primary objective is to provide an infrastructure [for handling knowledge that already exists or can exist in any given language] [that enables much easier aquisition and creation of knowledge, and constructive discussions, that crosses the present day cultural and academic boundaries].

[Nevertheless, it is important to note that at present it would be foolish to claim to represent the “full” meaning of any word, sentence, or text for any language. Subtleties of intention and interpretation make the “full meaning,” however we might conceive it, too variable and subjective for any systematic treatment. Thus UNL avoids the pitfalls of trying to represent the “full meaning” of sentences or texts, targeting instead the “core” or “consensual” meaning most often attributed to them].

[I treat the context free “full meaning” of words as a mostly a meaningless abstraction that is not worth pursuing as an aim. The only pertinant meaning to me is the one in the authors mind. The aim is to make that meaning available to the readers with the least possible deformation. The unit of meaning I propose is a word sense that includes its context (or domain of validity).
When the author inputs a text into the system he either finds one in the system or creates it on the spot. That creation will be part of the text, so there is no need of a centrally managed ontology. As in natural language such “neologisms” propagate with their usage. They can be included in independently managed ontologies, that can specialise either in general or specialised domains, and made available to authors].