Action Language

Years ago, I (Gerry)used a program called The Coordinator, which was basically email, but with a twist.  A sequence of emails related to the same coordinated action would be actions that are tracked state changes from a request or offer through the completion of a promised action.


Here are some of the language actions extracted from the link above:



Request Action, Decline Promise 

Offer Action, Declare complete 

Cancel, Ask for progress report 

Report completion, Revoke promise


Using this software and learning from the designer, Fernando Flores, I understood the power in understanding language a s a technology for coordinating actions as well as the personal power in handling our commitments.  Even when we don't have a piece of software telling us, we know to be clear in making or declining promises and canceling or revoking them as well.


You can look at language actions through these categories:


Interrogation -- ask a question expecting a response

   Stream actions in this class don't affect the state of any objects, just compute a result to view or reference.
Assertion -- assert a fact with reference to evidence

   Stream actions in this class assert correspondence between logical forms on the statement and facts in the system or world.  Can be true or false.
Assessment -- summarize qualities based on systemic knowledge

   This is probably where the trust map most comes in.  Good assessments are grounded in both facts and observations evaluated by someone with skills and experience in the field of judgement.
Declaration -- a statement constituting an action with authority

   Stream actions in this class create all of the primary data objects of the system.  Declarations are meaningful to the extent that they are authoritative.  In the sense that a judge has the authority to make declarations in court, or more simply in our personal authority to declare our intentions. 


Creating New Action Chains


My purpose of introducing the above is not to propose any particular ontology for the action languages we are in the process of designing, but to draw attention to this way of thinking about language as a technology of action.  I see this as also key to what we are doing at FlowSpace.  Where I do want to start getting specific is in around the ontology of connecting projects "intentionally", that is in action networks.



More background: See also.





I really like the idea of building an instance of something like The Coordinator on the Metacurrency platform.


It can be much more powerful than email (for moving intentions forward). It is easy to define the set of breaths/statements/speech-acts available. I think it would be a powerful example of a simple yet powerful Metacurrency application.

  --Arthur Brock.....Sun Mar 14 04:03:36 +0100 2010