Principia Cybernetica Web

Hypertext web as a semantic network

The Principia Cybernetica philosophical system will not be developed as a traditional document, but rather as a conceptual network. A unit, or node, in the network can be a book, a chapter, a paragraph, a definition, an essay, a picture, a reference, etc. By linking nodes together, using several types of semantic relations, multiple hierarchical orderings of the network will be maintained, giving both readers and authors flexible access to every part of the system. Such a system is intended to allow the dynamic development of a multidimensional system fully reflecting and incorporating the semantic relations inherent among the terms being explicated.

Each node will typically represent a separate concept, and contain at least a definition and an exposition. The definition defines the concept in terms of other concepts, by providing specific semantic links to those concepts. (for an example, see our web of systems concepts). Primitive terms are undefined, or implicitly defined by their links with other primitive concepts. The exposition gives additional information about the concept (e.g. bibliographical or historical references, analogies, examples, applications), and may also contain different types of (referential) links. A node may contain text, formulas, drawings, ..., and even programs that perform specific operations (e.g. creating an instance of that concept, with specific attributes, or sending a "message" to another node).

Nodes will have a number of fixed fields, containing author, date (creation and modification), title, upward-references (referring the mother node) and downward references (referring to daughter concepts).

The meaning of a node is partially formal, determined by the network of semantic relations to which it belongs; and partially informal, determined by the personal interpretation of the user who reads the exposition, and tries to understand the concept by associating it with the context. Such a format allows the adequate representation of precise, mathematical concepts, of vague, ambiguous, "literary" ideas, and of the whole continuum in between.

See further: Joslyn C (1996).: Semantic Webs: A Cyberspatial Representational Form for Cybernetics, in: Cybernetics and Systems '96 R. Trappl (ed.), (Austrian Society for Cybernetics).

Copyright© 1993 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

C. Joslyn, F. Heylighen,

Oct 26, 1993 (modified)
Aug 1993 (created)


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Collaborative Knowledge Development / Web Organization

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