Di Stefano, Julia M., "Negotiating Reality: Using Language and Influence Diagrams To Articulate Knowledge", 1990

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This paper analyzes some of the recent literature on language and information processing, focusing on graphic representations which model the interactions between those transmitting and those receiving messages. Having examined four models concerning interpersonal communication and information processing, I concluded that today’s most promising research on dyadic communication is that based on the model of cybernetic control systems. Most useful are the models which 1. recognize the need for the speaker and listener to commit themselves to continue the dialog until they arrive at consensus and 2. also recognize that the recursive interactions between the two individuals are based on the principle of feedback, which, in the words of Norbert Wiener, “is the property of being able to adjust future conduct by past performance” (Wiener, 1954, 33).“A fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees.” William Blake (1790)For much more than 200 years poets and philosophers have been struggling with the mysteries of the human mind, imagination and perception. Increasingly, researchers in artificial intelligence (AI), in their attempt “to design computer tools suited to human use and human purposes” (Winograd and Flores, 1986, 8) are studying what happens when two people use language. What happens when the fool tries to communicate to the wise man about the tree the fool sees? And how can the wise man communicate about the tree he sees? We now know that Korzybski was correct in recognizing that “The map is not the territory,” and that each individual carries in his/her own head maps or mental models of reality formed by that individual’s own life experiences. In other words, the word or symbol is not the reality it represents, and the words represent different interpretations of reality to each individual. Small wonder then that our lives, professional and personal, are fraught with miscommunication.

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