You call it redundancy; I call it denormalization :->

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Fri Mar 09 2001 - 06:40:32 MST

Technotranscendence wrote:
> Also, in the interest of reducing redundancy here, with some of these news
> stories that are widely publicized -- I heard this on the radio as well as
> read it on the net -- perhaps we should not send the URL or the whole
> article, but just mention the event. Less accessible stories are another
> matter, but this one was plastered all over the place.

In the relational database world, a little judiciously-applied
redundancy can save a lot of time. In an amorphous network like
the Web, it can also save time, and even save the day when links turn
out to be broken or stale (which can happen quickly enough, even
for items that seem at first to be plastered all over the place).

This reminds me of an extremely funny story I first read in the
60's, long before FATs and clusters and fragments and suchlike
became commonly-known concepts, called _Ms Fnd In A Lbry_ by
Hal Draper:

"On the mother planet there are early traces of books. This
word denotes paleoliterary records of knowledge in repre-
sentational and macroscopic form. Of course, these disap-
peared very early... when their increase threatened to leave no
place on the planet’s surface for anything else.
First they were reduced to micros, and then to super-
micros, which were read with the primeval electronic micro-
scopes then extant... At about this time, too, their cumbersome
alphabet was reduced to mainly consonantal elements (thus: thr
cmbrsm alfbt w rdsd t mnl cnsntl elmnts) but this was done to
facilitate quick reading, and only incidentally did it cut down
the mass of Bx (the new spelling) by a full third. A drop out of
the bucket... The fundamental advance, at least in principle, came
when the representational records were abandoned altogether in
favor of punched supermicros, in which the supermicroscopic
elements were the punches themselves. This began the epoch
of abstract recs—or Rx, to use the modern term...

Finally—but this took another yukal and was technologically
associated with the expansion of the civilization to
intergalactic proportions—Fx and Sng found that quanta in
hyperbolic tensor systems could be tensed into occupying the
same spatial and temporal coordinates, if properly pizzicated.
In no time at all, a quantic pizzicator was devised to compress
the nudged quanta into overlapping spaces, most of these
being arranged in the wide-open areas lying between the outer
electrons and the nucleus of the atom, leaving the latter free
for tables of contents, illustrations, graphs, etc.
All the Rx ever produced could now be packed away in a
single drawer... and glowing speeches pointed out that science had
once more refuted pessimistic croakings of doom. Even so,
two speakers could not refrain from mentioning certain mis-
givings. . . .

[A]s we well know, the Rx in the new storage systems
could be scanned only by activating the nudged or pizzicated
quanta, etc. by means of a code number, arranged as an index
to the Rx. Clearly the index itself had to be kept repre-
sentational and macroscopic, else a code number would
become necessary to activate **it**...

[A] process came into play of which even the ancients had had
presentiments. According to a tradition recorded by Kchv among
some oldsters in the remote Los Angeles swamps, the thing started
when an antique sage produced one of the paleoliterary Bx entitled
An Index to Indexes (or Ix t Ix), coded as a primitive I2. By the time
of the supermicros there were several Indexes to Indexes to Indexes
(I3), and work had already started on an I4. These were the innocent
days before the problem became acute. Later, Index runs were collected
in Files, and Files in Catalogs—so that, for example, C3F5I4 meant that
you wanted an Index to Indexes to Indexes to Indexes which was to be
found in a certain File of Files of Files of Files of Files, which
in turn was contained in a Catalog of Catalogs of Catalogs. Of
course, actual numbers were much greater. This structure
grew exponentially...

It began with what seemed a routine breakdown in one of
the access lines from D57x103 to D42x107. A Bibliothecal Mechanic set
out to fix it as usual. It did not fix. He realized that
a classification error must have been made by the ariadnologist
who had worked on the last pseudosolar system. Tracing
the misnudged quanta involved, he ran into: “See C11F73I15.”
Laboriously tracing through, he found the note:
‘This Ix class has been replaced by C32F7I10 for brachygravitic
endo-ranganathans and C22F64I3 for ailurophenolphthaleinic exoranganathans.”
Tracing this through in turn, he found that they led back to
the original C11F73I15! At this point he called in the district Bibliothecal
Technician, who pointed out that the misnudged sequence could be
restored only by reference to the original Rx. Through the
area Bibliothecal Engineer, an emergency message was sent
to the chief himself, Mlvl Dwy Smth.
Without hesitation, His Bibliothecal Excellency pressed the
master button on his desk and queried the Ix System for:
“Knowledge, Universal—All Rx-Drawers, Location of.”
To his stunned surprise, the answer came back: “See also
Frantically he turned dials, nudged quanta, etc. but it was
no use. Somewhere in the galaxy-size flood of Ix drawers was
the one and only drawer of Rx, the one that had once been
installed with great joy. It was somewhere among the Indexes,
Bibliographies, Bibliographies of Bibliographies, Histories of
Bibliographies, Histories of Histories of Bibliographies, etc.
A desperate physical search was started, but it did not get
very far, breaking down when it was found that no communi-
cation was possible in the first place without reference to the
knowledge stored in the Rx. As the entire bibliothecal staff
was diverted for the emergency, breakdowns in the access
lines multiplied and tangled, until whole sectors were disabled,
rendering further cooperation even less possible. The
fabric of this biped civilization started falling apart."


Jim F.

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