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 has helped us create; we zoom in on its structure, and principle of operation. We readily see that the way in which this new technology is being used has remained broadcasting—which suited the printing press, the old technology. We see, in other words, that we have used the new technology to recreate the candle.

Our collective mind needs structural change

What it means to be "informed"

Imagine a world where a correct understanding of a 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 a 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 be pointing 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 Stanford University workshop, within the Triple Helix IX international conference in 2011, we used the flat tire metaphor to propose the gestalt that characterizes our knowledge work condition, and point to a correct course of action.

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

The intended point was that the public has no basis for deciding which one of them is right. That the net result of this way to combine academic research and media informing is passivity and confusion. And that our situation in knowledge work is similar to the situation of passengers of a car with a flat tire. Pressing the gas pedal and surging forward (i.e. just publishing more) is no longer an action appropriate to our situation. We must stop and take care of a structural problem.