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1. Introduction

During my past years I took part in numerous debates about several different things. I talked with friends, I participated on mailing lists, I posted messages on bulletin boards.

I find it a terribly distressing thing to experience that sometimes people are totally unable to efficiently discuss some issues. And this happens quite often, especially when we are talking about complex topics involving a significant amount of background information, a lot of different presumptations and more than one, possibly (at least partly) conflicting aspects. (Politics, moral and philosophical matters are good examples.) People can easily talk-and-talk-and-talk to each other without getting any closer to a conclusion, or even understanding each other's thoughts.

I think one of the reasons of this phenomenon can be that most humans are not quite capable of quickly memorising a seemingly unrelated set of facts and/or arguments, and to considering them simultaneously, constantly keeping in mind all important relations.

What we usually do is some random roam in the wood of thoughts; we consider some of them and totally ignore others. This approach might be adequate for solving simple every-day problems, but it is a totally impossible to resolve really complex matters this way.

Of course there are those situations when both sides of the hassle are damned sure that they are right, and their only purpose is to beat the crap out of the others. It's not a big surprise that when you are talking someone with this attitude of mind, your words probably don't make any difference.

But on the other hand, there are those situations when both sides are open-minded, both sides try to do some thinking, and still, it's often a very-very-hard task to see through the matter.

An other distressing thing is that in the history of humanity the same disputes happen again and again, at lots of different times and places. Some people make some good points, some people come closer to the truth... but from humanity's point of view, eventually most of the results are lost! Most of the results are burried in the minds of the participants. Some people write books to present their acquired knowledge... but it's not easy to transmit knowledge this way, especially if the coming generations are not willing to read all the books written before them.

I think that the vast majority of the debates does not use any previous results, but try to start the whole thing from the beginning. These attempts usually fail on obstacles which have been resolved a long time ago.

The knowledge is not retined, at least not in a form that would be easily available.

In order to try to do something about this, I have decided to desing and implement a software-system that cal

  1. Help people discussing things
  2. Store these discussions (and past discussions) for future reference

Please send comments on these web pages to fenwick@freemail.hu.

Copyright (C) 2002, 2003 Csillag Kristóf

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