My first letter to Autonomy 2000

Michael Lynch Ph.D., Managing Director and CEO


Ralph Harms, Board and Finance Director, CFO

Richard Gaunt, Board and Technical Director, CTO

Dominic Johnson, Board and Marketing Director, CMO

Barry Ariko, Director

John McMonigall, Director

Richard Perle, Director

Richard Wilson, Director


Autonomy Corporation – United Kingdom
St John's Innovation Centre
Cowley Road






78 Glan Gors Harlech Gwynedd LL46 2NX

07747 838 440



[email protected]


Sunday, 12 November 2000


11:11 AM


Michael Lynch Ph.D., Managing Director and CEO

Ralph Harms, Board and Finance Director, CFO

Richard Gaunt, Board and Technical Director, CTO

Dominic Johnson, Board and Marketing Director, CMO

Barry Ariko, Director

John McMonigall, Director

Richard Perle, Director

Richard Wilson, Director


I am writing this letter to all of you because… hell only knows, maybe one of you will understand what I am saying and do something to help me to fulfil the potential that I believe is there with Autonomy


Michael Lynch, you were on Radio 4 a few weeks ago and I heard you talk about Autonomy, Bayes, ‘The door to a secret garden’, etc., and I knew with certainty that I had found the tool I had been looking for, for over twenty years.

I contacted your company that night via your email form page and spent the next week finding out as much as was available about Autonomy.

I also, stupidly, as it turns out, raved about your DRE and its powerful abilities to a number of people who are part of a project I am involved with.

On the 24th October I was sent an email by Liz Dyer (enc) which I did not pick up until after I had received a call from Liz a day later. I was at a friends house  at the time and was really delighted and excited to have been phoned by your company.

Liz asked me to explain about my project because, as she put it, your company has so many people interested in Autonomy that you cannot waste time with projects that do not fit your criteria.


So I explained about Harlech being chosen as one of the sixty areas that have been chosen as a trial for the ‘Sustainable Communities Programme’, About The National Parks Authority, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd County Council, being part of the scheme, the involvement of all of the groups, organisations and associations that are part of Harlech life and the aim of the project being to empower the people of Harlech to take control of their lives and build a better place to live and work.


I also explained that I have been asked to put forward, before the end of December, a proposal which Gwynedd County Council will add to their application for European funding for a Lifelong Learning Network scheme. I also explained about the language ‘problem’ with this area in that most of the population speak welsh as a first language. I then told her about myself. That I probably had a condition called Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or something similar which meant that I tended to jump around with my thoughts. I explained that I was on long term invalidity benefit and had been since 1991. I explained that I had a condition that gives me Grand Mal type fits as in Epilepsy.

I explained that I had been looking at problems in rural areas for the last twenty years or so since running a project centred on an interface device called Crofter Magazine- if only Autonomy had been around then!


Liz Dyer said that this project was of real interest to Autonomy, just the sort of project in fact that Autonomy was looking for.

I then asked her if Autonomy could take a scanned document straight from a scanner to the website and place it where it was most relevant. Liz was unsure.

My last question to her was about the price.

For an enterprise portal which could take from 48 hours to a few weeks to put in place- £400,000+.


For a trial run like we were putting together in Harlech?

20% . £80,000.


As I was walking on the beach at Llandanog an hour or so later Liz called me again and told me there was no problem with using scanners as an interface- I had already worked this one out but it was good to know that you were on the ball. Liz finished the call by saying “We need new thinkers”. A nice boost to my feelings of working on the right lines regarding Autonomy and this project.

So I waited for your information pack to arrive.


A week went by and nothing so I phoned your company.

I got through to a man called Julian who took my numbers and said that Liz Dyer would phone back- which she did five minutes later.


Then my head got steadily blown by the following conversation, paraphrased but as accurate as I can get it. This conversation was taken in front of someone who had listened to me talking Autonomy non stop for the last week and who had heard all about my ‘positive’ conversation of the week before.


Liz: Hello Mark. Can you tell me which company you’re with?

Mark: Well I’m not with a company but you might have me under The Cwm Consultancy. Cwmcon.

Liz: No. I can’t find you. What was this about?

Mark: Regenerating Harlech.

Liz: No still can’t find you. When did we talk?

Mark: Last week. You even phoned me back whilst I was walking on the beach.

Liz: Yes I remember. I was quite excited.

Mark: Yes you were. About the scanning.

Liz: Yes. What else could I put in to find you?

Mark: How about Gwynedd?

Liz: I’ll try gwyn. No that doesn’t do it either. I’ll try Mark. No that doesn’t bring you up.


We then had a conversation about my need for as much information about Autonomy and its uses as possible to which she replied that it would take time to do such research and she did not have it as she was sure I would understand. Then we had a conversation about the company you use to mail out your replies to general enquiries and the possible delays in your system that could have contributed to my not receiving  your documents.

We talked about what this project would be getting for its £400,000 but she couldn’t say.



Liz then said “Found you! You were under T for The Cwm Consultancy!”



And there I was thinking I had found the answer to a twenty year search.


Why aren’t you using your Autonomy for  your sales? Why isn’t it on tap so that Liz Dyer can find out about me and anything else we talk about as she is talking to me? Why isn’t it scouting round for non Autonomy projects that have a need for its DRE?


But… That’s your problem.. and mine because I walked into it.


Amongst other questions I want answers to are the following


If Mrs Jones wants some shelving and Mr Edwards has got some planks could autonomy spot that planks and shelving might be the same thing?


If Mr Roberts puts ‘painting the sitting room’ on his ‘to do’ list could Autonomy inform him that Josh Billings, aged 15, is good with a paintbrush and could go with some work- hours and wages negotiable?


We know it can run  groups of like minded people in the commonwealth but is that sort of coding built into what you are offering me?


If I wanted direct linked scanners which can upload notices, wanted/sales ads, business listings and printers that could output a colourful copy of the interests you are looking for in the local post office- using their computer data lines and Bank walls using the old/disused cash points, phone boxes a possibility,  can Autonomy build itself a niche here acting as an Autonomous controller?


Could Autonomy run a game?

One with a better audience than the UK Lottery?


Can a DRE organise or just order?


Can a DRE be used to maximise the efficiency of a Local Exchange Trading System or LETS on a wider scale than is used at the moment?


Could a DRE be a cost effective way of administering a Town/County wide Credit Union?


Can we get Autonomy to pull in the right sort of holiday makers so that the best is got out of what’s on offer here?


I notice the Adult content switch in Kenjin. What sort of rules are, or can, be built into a DRE? How readily can a DRE be proved to be unbiased or biased?


In a mostly one race culture could a non member of that culture use a DRE based agency to find themselves a livelihood/ ‘place’ if needed within that society?


Would adding a DRE backbone to an economy add to the stability?


See what I’m trying to do?


Mend the world… damn for a moment I felt sane and knew that, given your tools I could put something fairly amazing together.


I am 99% certain that your DRE can act as some of the backing machinery for a form of user friendly interface that can facilitate life, living, expanding, growing, enjoyment, buzz, laughing, …


Why do I bother?


Because, not one day but now, I need what this will do.

I seem to be becoming more unstable physically- I don’t know what is going to happen to me in the future because the doctors around here guess at what’s wrong with you and seem to get it wrong too often.


I have been treated for epilepsy since 1991 when I was first finally diagnosed with something. I stopped taking the tablets after I ended up having more fits whilst on them. Four weeks ago I woke up feeling strange and had two grand mal fits. After the first one I bled a lot from the cut I had poked through my eye brow by hitting the floor so hard that my bone had cut through two layers of skin. As I was being taken in the ambulance with my girlfriend by my side I threw my next fit. The ambulance had to stop whilst both of the paramedics tried to restrain me ( I am 44, 6, 2”, 13.5 stone). After I had thrown that fit they drove like complete lunatics to the hospital having told Biddy that the next one could kill me. Two weeks later I went to my long standing appointment to my new psychiatrist only to be told that I didn’t have epilepsy and could I explain what sort of fits I had. I had pointed the people at Bangor Hospital at her and had stupidly expected them to be in touch. Because I was used to coping with trying to sort out everything I needed to say in less than 15 minutes at this appointment- the most time I have had with any of the mental health services or doctors since I first arrived here 11 years ago, my psychiatrist decided I had hyper mania and prescribed some drugs on that basis.

Because I have been trying to sort out my shit and fit in for over twenty years and have had little or no correct diagnosis or help from two local authority health services ( Mental help that is- loads of physical help and caring any time I have ended up in hospital- thanks nurses and doctors in hospitals!J) I am fairly angry about the waste I feel I have made of my life and the lack of the help that I keep getting told is there for people like me who find some part of this society odd to cope with.

So, when the community Psychiatric Nurse turned up for the first appointment half an hour late and I told him to fxck off because he was obviously more into his own job for his sake alone. I then got over being angry at him and started talking to him. After 3.5 hours he had already decided it was unlikely to be hyper mania.


I actually don’t care what I have. I want to and intend to live the rest of my life. But my head also gets in the way of my relationships.

I like the people I know. If my head needs changing I will find out how to do it.

But I need to know that I can cope with the basics as well as the more complicated stuff and major mood swings, loss of confidence in my abilities, depression- have I a right to be taking up space on this earth?- shaking hands, and grand mal fits make you unsure of what you have got right inside your head which means there are times when you don’t work out the space to do anything right.


I need a self help system which will help me to keep, or actually to be, part of a world that I want to put into and take out of till I die.

I have a lot of o.k. talents. I am a fair car mechanic, welder, painter, photographer, computer man, general fixer/bodger/sorter. I can help companies get their computer systems sorted as well as show anti computer 60 year olds how to translate The Brothers Karamazov from Russian to English on an old Amstrad 1512 and then on to building her own web sites.


Do a search on the net for cwmcon. I might not have achieved very much but I have been trying to stick my oar into your world for one hell of a long time. I don’t have the right sort of brain action for fitting in to your world and I have finally realised that my constant looking at problems and what might help is doing my head in and stopping me from living my life with my children and friends.

Too much of my head spent wanting society to cotton to my worth if any and help me to lead a paying life.

I have talked and talked over the past few years to everyone I can think of or meet about what might be needed in theirs and others lives. I knew I needed some better way of working things but kept presuming it was just me that was thick- until MENSA tested me free of charge ( no spare cash even then) and told me I had an IQ in the top 2%.

 It didn’t stop my first marriage from breaking up but it did point me at something other than being wrong that could be why I say and interacted differently to others, including my brothers and sisters.


It now looks like I might have something.

It could be anything though and, at the moment, as you may be able to tell from the above letter, I am not as focussed as I need to be.


Hence some of the reasons why I have never had the deposit, let alone the monthly means to buy my own house, never had a car worth more than £300, never had a bank account that worked for more than a year or two before failing completely, never been off some form of government benefit since my first marriage broke up 1982, etc.


I like inventing, or thinking of things to ‘add’ to life.


…. But that is lots of other stories.

Talk to Frank Frey or Norman Helle Lorenzen at Business Connect in North Wales. They should be able to tell you that my ideas are commercially viable, that my only real problem is me.


Get to the point.


I want you to back a trial of an Autonomy agency for the Harlech area of Gwynedd….


The initial need is for a ‘set-up’ that will cope with cataloguing/organising / grouping all the text input that the people of Harlech can be prompted to input over a short period of time ( 1 month) but with a focus on a one or two day event which acts as the main point of input for the town’s inhabitants. This information gathering session is intended to start the empowerment of the people of Harlech according to Andrea Collins who is running some of the sites chosen for The Sustainable Communities Programme which includes Harlech.

Andrea has spoken with me about Autonomy and was wondering how much use Autonomy might be to the data collation aspect of the whole 60 projects.

I was suggesting that the very tenet of the programme was to get communities to use ‘best practice’ with regard to their own needs and problems and that many of the projects are likely to come up with something that is of benefit to one of the other projects.


With regard to Gwynedd County Councils need for an ‘Lifelong Learning Network’ I was thinking of a form of ActiveKnowledge linked through the schools and the internet- but that must come after Harlech at the moment.


Our next meeting is 27th November at 7.30pm.


By that time I would like to have talked –head to head if possible- to someone within your company (capable of keeping up with my jumping head) and got some form of real interest expressed in joining in with this project.



An Aside

When I heard that you had a copy of Autonomy that would work on my own machine I half hoped for a cataloguer that would take all my documents from all my cd rom backups and sort then by relevance and topic- save my head by sorting my library of web saves.

I did get my mind shown some of kenjin’s potential by its picking up on the background nuance of one email by bringing up another with the same background feeling.


I have got twenty years worth of acute observation and questioning behind this letter. I even tried to get into University of Wales Aberystwyth to pull together a system like this but had to do G500 Computer Science and learn Java- a problem since every programme I have ever written that worked has made me have a fit. I couldn’t pass the programming module so was not able to continue into the second year.


What you have here is the crammed garbling of a man who see he is limited by head space, finances, life into trying to say everything in 15 minutes.


Make of this what you will.


Harlech and Gwynedd and the rest of rural UK could do with you getting really involved.


So could I.



Yours sincerely   


Mark Aldiss








Sunday, 12 November 2000