I. Marc Carlson LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu
Wed Oct 23 11:33:49 PDT 1996

<aodhan at dobharchu.org (Aodhan Ite an Fhithich)>
"MC> was what  that suggestion was.  Or would you seriously consider
"MC> turning over  the entire acceptances and rejections process to a
"MC> machine?
>Why not.  The entire Launch, Ascent, and Orbital Insertion of a Space Shuttle
>is entrusted to machines.  Certainly checking armory for conflict is not going
>to result in someone's death if the program has a glitch.

In that case, knock yourself out.  I'm quite certain that there are simply
scads of people in the Society who are waiting until they can remove the
human element from the system, just so they can get back to all that really
good canting, "fine line" and "busy" heraldry.

>That's not the way you do it (I *do* program computers for a living).  Blazon
>is a language, just like English, French, FORTRAN, or C.  It has a grammar,
>syntax, and vocabulary...

However, as you pointed out yourself, not everyone "speaks" Blazon the same
way, and while we are able to muddle through errors in communication in
English and French, with only the occasional war -- I suspect that neither
Fortran nor C are that forgiving.

>It's by no means trivial, but it isn't nearly as hard as Natural Language
>Translation (English to French, e.g.), which has made enough progress in recent
>years that's it is feasible to buy software to do such translations.  

But, as you said, it's only been tried once, as part of a Master Thesis,
and was never completed.

>...such a program would not see any real use in the College of
>Arms for the same reasons the Auto-Land code goes unused - it would put
>specialists out of work...

OTOH, putting those specialists out of work would be the only way (as I've
maintained all along) to realistically stop the sort of criticism that
people have been complaining about in this thread.

I presented the concept of a "program" to do it as a rhetorical absurdity, 
to emphaize the fact that it would never happen, and we would always have to
deal with real people in that job.  I'm sorry if that point was too obscure.
It is possible that the whole College of Heralds could be done away with, 
but I consider that an absurdity as well, since, as you pointed out so well, 
too many people are going to protect the justification for their titles and 
jobs as hard as they can, rather than, as I suggested, even allow a 
discussion of realistic change.  This is also a human reality.

The only thing that I know of that can deal with the sorts of human
behaviors that are responsible for the complaints we've seen against the 
criticisms of the Heralds, aside from mass executions (a rhetorical absurdity,
btw), is to *encourage* them to a) not repeat things that are said in heraldic
meetings and to b) not publish things that are said.  In other words, to
encourage them to act a little bit more responsibly and professionally.
I'm not sure how to do that in all cases, but, speaking strictly as an
observer, public censure, and unrealistic blanket commandments regarding
behavior haven't shown themselves to be particularly effective.  I suspect
that this would be a behavior that would have to be changed from the top
down though, since in my experience, people will measure their behavior by
the standards that their superiors set.

I. Marc Carlson, Reference Librarian    |LIB_IMC at CENTUM.UTULSA.EDU
Tulsa Community College, West Campus LRC|Sometimes known as:
Reference Tech. McFarlin Library        | Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn 
University of Tulsa, 2933 E. 6th St.    | University of Northkeep 
Tulsa, OK  74104-3123 (918) 631-3794    | Northkeepshire, Ansteorra

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