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Change of epistemology

As Werner Heisenberg testified, a disruptive change has taken place in the 20th century’s science and philosophy. Leading scientists saw that what they were witnessing was in effect a rigorous disproof of some of the fundamental assumptions based on which the whole enterprise of science developed. More than a half-century has past since those insights were reported. What hinders us from adjusting what we do at the universities accordingly?

Change of societal needs

As Anthony Giddens observed, our society is no longer traditional. Suitable information now needs to replace the socialized habits that oriented the daily lives of our ancestors. What should that new information be like? By what methods, technology, social processes... can it be created? Our urgent need is to inform our very knowledge work. Why not pose the questions abut the information that suits our time as academic challenges?

Change of information technology

As everyone knows, a disruptive change has taken place in information technology. Why not take advantage of the new possibilities that the technology has to offer, by developing entirely new ways in which we collaborate and communicate? Why don't we change the prevailing practices? Why don't we elevate the challenge to ignite that very change to the academic status? As The Incredible History of Doug will show, the disruptive new technology has indeed been created to enable such change, by Douglas Engelbart and his lab, but his vision was ignored. Exactly a half-century ago – why not give it a place in academic reality?

Our initiative

The rationale behind our initiative is that the above disruptive changes call for disruptive changes of the ways in which knowledge is created and shared and used. And that the synergies that are inherent among those former changes give us a most wonderful material to work with when installing those latter ones. We offer knowledge federation as a prototype of a new kind of academic entity, technically a transdiscipline, which can incubate this development. Our call to action is to provide an institutional home where we will be creative in entirely new ways; where we will recreate the very ways in which we are being creative.

See

Federation through Images

Our idea of what constitutes "good" information has been evolving since antiquity, and it now finds its foremost expression in science and philosophy. In Federation through Images we show how the insights of 20th century's giants in science and philosophy empower a whole new standard of excellence – where the explicit purpose is to inform. We show how entirely new methods and ways to collaborate can be developed on that basis. And how a new wave of technological innovation may be spun by such development.

Federation through Stories

It stands to reason that the large (and small) contemporary issues may mean that our growing ability to innovate has not been suitably directed. But what might be the alternative? In Federation through Stories we point to disruptive insights that lead to an approach to innovation through which both our new and old needs will be dramatically better served.

Federation through Applications

Our creativity will soar when we allow ourselves to depart from the dictate of "market needs" and institutionalized habits. To make this opportunity palpable, and to streamline its practical realization, in Federation through Applications we present about 40 prototypes, which cover a spectrum of creative directions. They are opportunities ready to be taken. Together they compose a complete single model or prototype, along with its proof of concept – of knowledge federation as an approach to knowledge that suits our time.

Federation through Conversations

Federation through Conversations will streamline our main course of action – the creation of real-life knowledge federation.


An activity

Knowledge federation means connecting the dots

As an activity, as our logo might suggest, knowledge federation means 'connecting the dots' – connecting disparate pieces of information and other knowledge resources into higher-level units of meaning. This meaning is similar as in political federation, where smaller units unite to achieve a shared purpose, such as greater visibility and impact.

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Knowledge Federation logo

Knowledge federation is just knowledge creation

One might say that what we are calling knowledge federation is really just what we normally do with information so that it may become knowledge. You may have an idea in mind – but can really you say that you know it, before you have checked if it's consistent with your other ideas? And with the ideas of others? And even then – can you say that your idea is known before other people have integrated it with their ideas?

Why do we then claim the status of an academic field, and even of a new creative frontier, for this most mundane of human activities? The reason is, as we shall see, that the disruptive changes we have just mentioned, combined with our lack of response, led to a disruption of this all-important process. We are becoming incapable of federating knowledge! But this means that if we now give it our due attention, radical improvements of this age-old process will most surely result. An acceleration of the homo sapiens' cultural evolution will most naturally follow, and lead to a dramatic change of his earthly condition.

See

Federation through Images

In Federation through Images we render the gist of our initiative, as well as the core fundamental insights of some of the leading scientists and philosophers as metaphorical and often paradoxical images called ideograms. The result is a cartoon-like introduction to (the philosophical underpinnings of) a refreshingly novel approach to knowledge.

Federation through Stories

In Federation through Stories we use vignettes – short, lively, catchy, sticky... real-life people and situation stories – to explain and empower some of the core ideas of daring thinkers. A vignette liberates an insight from the language of a discipline and enables a non-expert to 'step into the shoes' of a leading thinker and 'look through his eye glasses'. By combining vignettes into threads, and by weaving threads into patterns and patterns into gestalts, we create a hierarchy of insights that can inform the handling of core practical issues including lifestyle, values, religion, innovation and governance.

Federation through Applications

Knowledge is rarely empowered unless it has impacted the conventional practice, which means our institutionalized habits, and ways of working and organizational structures. In Federation through Applications we present about 40 prototypes that show how such impact can be achieved. Our prototypes are designed to continuously evolve, and hence represent the state-of-the-art knowledge (about what for ex. journalism, or education, need to be like to serve our society in transition). At the same time they serve as interventions, they are real-life models embedded in practice, changing practice, and allowing us to learn how to do better change the practice.

Federation through Conversations

In Federation through Conversations we the core technique is the dialog, which empowers change. Through public dialogs we create a public sphere capable of weaving new threads of thought. And we co-create social process and systemic structures capable of handling core issues in new ways.


An opportunity

A historical parallel

To see why the opportunities that our proposal may lead to reach well beyond the improvements of knowledge work, recall the humanity's condition at the eve of the Renaissance: devastating wars, horrifying epidemics, infamous Inquisition trials... Bring to mind the iconic image of Galilei in house prison, a century after Copernicus, whispering "eppur si muove" into his beard. The problems of the day were not resolved by focusing on those problems, but by a slow and steady development of a whole new approach to knowledge. Several centuries of unprecedented progress followed. Could a similar advent be in store for us today?

Our discovery

"If I have seen further," Isaac Newton famously declared, "it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." What motivates our initiative is a discovery. We did not discover that the best insights of our best minds were drowning in an ocean of glut. Vannevar Bush, a giant, saw that already seven decades ago. He urged the scientists to focus on this disturbing trend and find a remedy. But needless to say, this too drowned in the ocean of glut.

What we did find out, when we began to uncover and put together the best insights of our best minds, was that now just as in Newton's time, they compose a whole new approach to knowledge. We also found out that this approach to knowledge leads to new answers to far-reaching questions – about the nature of truth and meaning; in what way might happiness be successfully pursued; what still impedes our freedom and democracy; what technological innovation may need to be like to benefit us far more than it presently does.

Our proposal

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality", observed Buckminster Fuller. "To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Hence we built knowledge federation as a model or a prototype of a new way to handle knowledge – as it might be instrumental in revolutionizing our condition.

The issue that is being proactively problematized on these pages is the way we handle a most precious resource – human creativity (or insight, ingenuity, capacity to envision and induce change...) and its fruits accumulated through the ages. And at the point in our history where we may need to depend on it more than we ever did! Considering the importance of this issue, we spared no effort in developing and describing a complete proof of concept; and setting the stage for its academic and real-life deployment and scaling. By constructing this model, we do not aim to give conclusive answers. Our goal is indeed much higher – it is to open up a creative frontier where the way knowledge is created and handled is brought into focus, and continuously recreated and improved. (This is one of the reasons why we decided to open up this website long before it is finished. To a much lesser degree than now of course, this site will remain a construction site forever.)

See

Federation through Images

In Federation through Images we trace the foundations and the techniques of a next-generation science-like development.

Federation through Stories

In Federation through Stories we trace the historical roots of a development analogous to Industrial Revolution – of a way to radically increase the effectiveness of human work.

Federation through Applications

In Federation through Applications we present a complete prototype of an emerging academic and societal paradigm, rendered as a portfolio of prototypes.

Federation through Conversations

In Federation through Conversations we focus on a development analogous to the Humanism and the Renaissance – of new views and values that can bring our societal and cultural evolution into sync with our technological one. By positing unconventional views on issues that matter, we ignite public dialogs. And by developing those dialogs, we evolve a collective mind capable of weaving threads of thought into surprising conclusions.