Connecting useful knowledge: introduction
The particular theme which is with me now is about connecting useful knowledge.
Knowledge, as in knowledge commons, a topic which I have written about previously.
Useful, not just abstract — I mean, the kind of knowledge that supports collaborative action towards a better world for all (everyone, the future, the planet, life, I guess you know what I mean). The knowledge that I'm interested in is not, primarily, abstract (though that often plays a useful role) but the kind that is used by good people; and what is counted as useful is a matter for the users of that knowledge to clarify. Useful knowledge also needs to be at the right level, in the right language for the user.
Connecting. What do I mean, and why is that central?
It's not connecting just for the sake of some abstract value, which might say that being connected is better than being disconnected. University departments have been doing some disconnected but potentially useful work in their own silos for hundreds of years. No, what connecting means to me is connecting together, in a way that makes sense to the people who need or want that knowledge or information at the time they need it. This relates to three complementary strategies for findability:
- a formal system of categories, indices, maybe taxonomies, which people can systematically search through;
- some kind of search facility if people don't know where to start looking;
- liberal cross-references to allow the more serendipitous kinds of finding, more by accident than by design.
I approach the idea of connecting in these and other ways, to be developed below. I also want to go beyond what I wrote in 2020 about the requirements for a wiki to support knowledge commons, because those last writings were mostly about technical requirements.
Some areas I hope to cover
- Considering curation as a central concept, not just automation
- Tracking backlinks in a third party service
- Reversion of last modified dates when changes are reverted
- Learning pathways and levels
- What is a good set of relationships for semantic links between pages?
- How are these relationships decided on and managed?
Relationships (semantic) are, in my perspective, deeply involved with relationships (human). People don't just structure their thinking in terms of categories of things (objects, entities,…) but perhaps even more in terms of relationship structures. So one of the major aspects I want to cover here will include:
- how to arrive at a genuinely useful set of semantic relationships
- how to manage that set of relationships
- the trade-off between widespread understanding and nuance of meaning