(Margaret Mead, Continuities in Cultural Evolution, 1964)
I am proposing a practical way to correct a fundamental error.
Problems—including unsustainabilities in global trends and discontinuities in cultural evolution—need to be seen and treated as consequences of that error.
I am proposing to institute a transdiscipline.
Which is a new kind of institution. And I make this proposal concrete and actionable by offering knowledge federation as a complete prototype of the transdiscipline; ready to be examined and put to use.
In his 1969 MIT report and call to action—to institute transdisciplinarity by anchoring it academically, as the necessary first step toward empowering us, post-traditional and post-industrial humans, to unravel our new problems and begin a new phase of societal-and-cultural evolution—Erich Jantsch quoted Norbert Wiener, the iconic progenitor of cybernetics:
“There is only one quality more important than ‘know-how’…… This is ‘know-what’ by which we determine not only how to accomplish our purposes, but what our purposes are to be.”
Academic disciplines cannot provide us know-what; and the media informing, such as it is, won't do it either. A system that can empower us to act knowledge-based must combine disciplinary and other evidence; it must transcend academic and cultural fragmentation; it must communicate to the public with authority of science—in ways that are well beyond the modalities of outreach that the sciences have been able to produce.
This website is intended to complement my book called Liberation, which will soon be in print—and outline a vision, called holotopia, of a possible future that is in significant dimensions better than our present. The Liberation book will render the requisite evidence as brief and entertaining real-life people-and-situation stories called vignettes; and ignite an initiative, also called holotopia, whose aim is to enable comprehensive change—of our social and cultural order of things or paradigm as a whole. Here my aim is to set in motion knowledge federation as a parallel and complementary academic initiative, which will empower us to manifest the holotopia; by submitting an academic case for it to begin with; because the key to holotopia is to restore us a capability that is quintessentially academic: To federate knowledge, I explained in Liberation, means to account for academic results, people’s experiences, cultural artifacts and whatever else might be relevant to the theme or task at hand. Political federation unites smaller geopolitical units to give them visibility and power. Knowledge federation does that to information.
On these pages I will share my case for transdisciplinarity, or knowledge federation, by outlining its structure; and I'll let you reconstruct its details by browsing through the book and participating in the public dialog the book is part of. Don't be fooled by my unacademic way of speaking; I have my reasons for doing this. You'll have comprehended me correctly when you see that all of this follows from a single principle called knowledge federation axiom; which states that knowledge must be federated; which means that we can only say that we know something when due evidence has been accounted for; and that we can only say that something is known when it's reflected in everyday awareness and action. The knowledge federation axiom is not assumed to be true—but stated as a convention of language and my definition of knowledge. What this all comes down to is the academic core value—to build on what's academically reported instead of ignoring it. You'll have comprehended me completely when you see that the knowledge federation proposal is as academically sound as a call to reform academic work and information at large needs to be.
The knowledge federation prototype is a result of devoted labor of some excellent people. I explained in Liberation that I had the unusual fortunate to work for nearly three decades (in a tenured academic position with uncommonly much freedom) with constellations of collaborators who were creative leaders in their fields. The reason why I don't say "we" as I do in the book, but address you in first person, is that I want to make a clear and strong statement; and be personally accountable for what I say.
Historical attempts to institute transdisciplinarity remained ignored.
And when we took over the torch—or as the case may be this large boulder and began rolling it uphill—the same dynamic repeated itself. I'll invite you to break the spell of ignoring; and see instituting transdisciplinarity as our generation's and hence also your personal project and duty; and to act, incisively and without delay—because we have no more time to lose.
To make a case for transdisciplinarity I will demonstrate that our know-what and more generally our ideas about life's important or pivotal themes have as much room for improvement as the comprehension of natural phenomena did before science; and that the nature of our information is such that knowledge is impossible; and that all this is due to a fundamental error that has been diagnosed by creative leaders in science and philosophy; and that correcting this error will open up a vast and magnificent creative frontier—where the next-generation academics will be creative in ways and degrees that their situation will necessitate; and as the founders of scientific revolution did in their day—create the way they do science; and with the power of reformed science reconfigure the way we all handle information, and pursue knowledge.
In the remaining four main pages of this website I'll let knowledge federation speak for itself; and thereby also illustrate some of its techniques.
- Federation through ideograms or images will explain the nature of the error I've been telling you about, and how I propose to correct it
- Federation through keywords or stories will help you comprehend both precisely
- Federation through prototypes or applications will illustrate knowledge federation by a few examples of application
- Federation through action or conversations will make it clear exactly how I propose to go about correcting the error; and invite you to take part.