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Deciding whether to go East or West

Here's a thing: the way Westerners make decisions is very different from the the way Japanese make decisions. I'll admit now, I don't know as much as I'd like to know about Japanese culture, but as far as I understand it the difference is this:

Western "decision making" focuses on answer, and systematic approaches to arrive at these.

Japanese "decision making", by contrast, focuses on "defining the question" - things like "Is there a need for a decision?" or "What is the decision about?". And that requires consensus. What interested me is that during this consensus forming stage no mention of what the answer might be is made. The "answer" (the Western decision) follows from the question definition (the Japanese decision).

Now, I think there are some tentative inferences you can draw from this re blogs, ontologies, semantic web, user modelling etc. Number one being that blogs seem to fit into the "question consensus" camp, and ontologies/task models, the whole "semantic-web-turning-the-web-into-a-large-expert-system" thang fit the answer camp. And my gut feeling is that consensus is something that IT can support, but mechanics is something IT can do - the two should perhaps not be confused.

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