Monday, June 27, 2005

The New Shape of Knowledge

The New Shape of Knowledge

David Weinberger
Knowledge is organized with a physical model in mind – that everything CAN be classified and when classified, there is only one category. However, the nature of knowledge is changing. With the Greeks, knowledge was learned, remembered, and passed on through rhetoric. People had to evaluate the truthfulness of the speaker. Later, knowledge was paper-based. This led to more narrow classification of knowledge as it needed to be sorted and stored. Currently, knowledge is digital, which allows for multiple classifications and uses.
This means that knowledge is a “leaf on many branches.” It now longer needs to be placed in one category and stay there. It can be resorted based on the user's needs. “Messiness is a virtue.” When looking at links and the internet, the more links, the more prevalent the information. It isn't linear, even in text based documents. “Information is not owned.” People continually add to what is on the internet. At one time, the authority – author, publisher,
teacher – gave knowledge. Now, “Users are contributors.” Wikipedia is an excellent example of this. This encyclopedia is written by the people who read it. There is no limit to the size or topics.

With so many people contributing virtually, there is a reduced sense of competition. People don't have to be right all the time. The WWW is a big place and there is space for everyone.
Living with this kind of change in the shape of knowledge requires students to use different skills. We should be acknowledging that knowledge is an unending conversation – and if it is a conversation, then students should be looking at the context of the knowledge, learning how to listen, seek ambiguity, and love difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment