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Sustaining the Coherence of Dialogue through Apartness: configuration of entities through hypertext


Sustaining the Coherence of Dialogue through Apartness
A. Patterns of cognitive coherence
B. Category organization
C. Organization of web pages
D. 'Knitting' a configuration together
E. Speculative conclusion

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Information overload has been a concern for many years. With the advent of Internet and the Web, concern has increased. The problem has been directly related to stress in managers and managerial ineffectiveness. It has resulted in dangerous over-simplification of issues to maintain a semblance of effective governance. The significance for the further fragmentation of knowledge is as yet unclear -- although concerns about the effectiveness of educational systems is now widespread. It is however clear that the ease with which people can now 'surf' through documents disguises inability to absorb the content of individual documents and to assemble insights from a set of hyperlinked documents into a meaningful whole. To this extent, learning is therefore inhibited rather than augmented -- as was proclaimed as the promise of such facilities. Integration of knowledge across disciplines, however vital, runs the risk of becoming a hopeless cause.

Electronic mail and software-supported conferencing have increased tremendously the potential for dialogue around the world. They have also increased the possibility of junk mail and spurious interventions in electronic conferences. It cannot yet be proven that software helps to increase the significance of a conference beyond what is possible in face-to-face mediated settings. Most electronic dialogues meander with little sense of their own historic message trail and with little, if any, pattern of cross-referencing between comments. There is little sense of integration or the emergence of any higher conceptual order.

Many commentators have indicated that the Web is just in its infancy. Many new tools are being rapidly developed to search the millions of websites automatically. Tools are available to test and map the integrity of hyperlinks within and between websites. Groupware is considered a vital software growth area. Mind-mapping software is available and is being further developed. This paper explores a further extension of some of these techniques.