A historical parallel
To understand the nature of our initiative, 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?
"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. A giant observed 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.
... a quantum leap in our handling of knowledge
“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 of course, this site will remain a construction site forever.)
We do not purport to make the traditional science obsolete; or to replace the most worthwhile efforts that focus on specific issues such as the climate change or on reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Rather, the aim of our initiative is to to initiate developments that can give far larger visibility and social impact to the results of science – and to other useful sources of insight of course. Our goal is to vastly improve the prospects of problem-oriented approaches to reach their goals.
Federation through Images
What we the people consume as information is determined by the media and advertising agencies, and ultimately by commercial interests. At the same time, 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, i.e. to provide right orientation to people and society, in the complex reality we have created. We also show how the old techniques and new insights in science can be adapted and combined to develop methods that are suitable for that purpose.
At the heart of our initiative is a single simple principle or insight or rule of thumb, which points to a better way to use our creative abilities. We begin Federation through Images by explaining this insight or principle – with the help of an image, of course.
We render the core insights of the giants in this traditionally abstract field 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 point to some of the roots of an emerging larger Enlightenment-like and Industrial Revolution-like change. 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
In Federation through Applications we present knowledge federation as a creative frontier. About 40 prototypes cover a spectrum of creative directions, that together compose a complete single model or prototype, along with its proof of concept – of an approach to knowledge that suits our time.
Federation through Conversations
In Federation through Conversations we streamline our main course of action – the creation of real-life knowledge federation processes and infrastructures. 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.