Capturing the collective knowledge of mankind

In this post I will build upon the core purpose of post no 1 – written earlier today: Stating and describing the need, potential, and overall idea of a new way – besides the paradigm of text of today – of consuming information to gain knowledge.

The point I wish to make in this post is that capturing knowledge as data serves another “higher purpose” other than potentially enabling a much more democratic (as it makes the space of knowledge aquisition a matter of creativity and not pre-knowledge or speed of reading) and efficient world of knowledge gain as it becomes visual and interactive: It enables the capture of “all” knowledge of mankind. Well, that might be a bold statement but I would argue the following:

– Most knowledge of man is not available to us but hidden in the details of books, while web pages most of the times are shallow representations of subjects compared to that existing in books and minds of those that have read them and connected different kinds of knowledge from such studies in their minds. Think of Wikipedia … it is a great source of knowledge and I am a big fan of WP. But the fact remain that the texts are summaries of topics and the bigger picture of topics are limited to simple links between pages.

– Writing more text, a book or a web page, is yet another drop in the sea which will not be found or, more importantly, connected to the rest of the world of knowledge in any structured way.

– But, if there was a global knowledge graph available to me, where I would see and be able to surf topics and all the objects were data, I would be able to add more topics or relations in a structured and sustainable manner. Imagine that I in such a graph would explore the Battle of Poltava during the Great Northern war (a subject I was once an expert in). I would probably today see people involved, related battles, military regiments etc. If I was allowed, I could now complete this graph with the more detailed knowledge I have, for instance creating a relation between a regiment and the topic redoubt (being a squared shape fortification important for the outcome of the Battle of Poltava), then splitting redoubt to redoubt 1, 2 etc (the number used in the battle). I would then have created a more detailed use of redoubt for the battle, creating new topics which I would then give context by f i placing them geographically on a map. Redoubt 1 I would then connect to f i the regiment Dalregementet, which basically perished trying to conquer it. I would then be presented with people in the regiment currently in the graph and be able to state who possibly died AT the redoubt, having thus created another layer of knowledge data. Perhaps I would then add a person NOT today known on the Internet, connecting him to f i that regiment and perhaps the topic Captain.

– The above is written to try to explain how a community would be able to create sustainable depth of knowledge and connect such knowledge as it is data. Of course, a community would also need to grade new suggested topics and relations as to secure the correctness of it.

A final note and reminder to me for a new post later: Perhaps the highest level of knowledge aquisition is reached during the process of creating something, when I put pieces of information together, f i creating a synopsis. This active process requires “working with” the information and when “producing” something I … learn. The above graph/interface/tool would enable also for a user to be presented with what will for a long time – of forever – be a non-perfect representation of knowledge. So, when I search for a enter f i the Great Northern war context I would have access to many topics, properties etc, some correctly displayed and some not so well displayed, some visible directly and some hidden and latently available. I would now be able to CREATE a new … asset … perhaps sorting all military personnel of Dalregementet which died at redoubt no 1 to a “People asset”. I would then be improving the data when I drag the people to this asset but possibly also create a visible asset available for the larger community, meaning … when another user later enters the same context she could possibly see that asset and be able to understand the topic better with it. How would such a process/tool affect the work in school and the common, joint effort of “the many” in constantly improving the knowledge of mankind as data, and as easily consumable, visible assets?