Holotopia: Collective mind

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H O L O T O P I A:    F I V E    I N S I G H T S

The printing press revolutionized communication, and enabled the Enlightenment. But the Internet and the interactive digital media constitute a similar revolution. Hasn't the change we are proposing, from 'the candle' to 'the lightbulb', already been completed?

We look at the socio-technical system by which information is produced and handled in our society, which the new information technology helped us create. We zoom in on its structure, and principle of operation. We see that this principle of operation has remained broadcasting—which suits the printing press, but not the new technology. We see, in other words, that we have used the new technology to only 'recreate the candle'.

Our collective mind needs structural change

What will it take to be "informed"

Imagine a world where correct understanding of one's situation is used as basis for action.

In knowledge federation we use the keyword gestalt for such understanding, and consider having an "appropriate gestalt" or a gestalt that is appropriate to a situation as a model for what we intuitively mean when we use the word "informed". "Our house is on fire" is a canonical example. An appropriate gestalt points to a course of action that is appropriate to one's situation.

Suppose, now, that we apply this idea to our handling of information and knowledge. What gestalt would result? What course of action would it point to?

Knowledge work has a flat tire

At the point where we were "going public" with our knowledge federation initiative, by presenting it to The Silicon Valley and to a community of international knowledge-work innovators at our 2011 Stanford University workshop, within the Triple Helix IX conference, we used the flat tire metaphor to propose the gestalt that characterizes our knowledge work-related situation; and to point to a course of action that is needed to handle it correctly.

Knowledge Work Has a Flat Tire is a thread consisting of two brief vignettes, where two leading scientists contradicted one other while presenting to the public the scientific view of an urgent policy issue, the climate change.

Our point was that the public had no basis for deciding which of them was right. That the net result of this way of combining academic research and media informing is confusion and inaction. And that our overall situation in knowledge work is now similar to the situation of passengers in a car that has a flat tire. Pressing the gas pedal and surging forward (publishing, or broadcasting) is no longer effective. Our situation demands that we stop and take care of a structural problem in our handling of information, and our creation of knowledge.

Democracy needs new headlights

Cybernetics of democracy