Go Make Those Real-World Connections

11 03 2007

 Power of story no matter how your family chooses to educate or loves to learn:

There’s an illusion being created that all the world’s knowledge is on the Web, but . . .experts say entire swaths of political and cultural history are in danger of being forgotten by new generations of amateur researchers and serious scholars.

. . .The ultimate fate of information relating to potentially valuable but obscure people, places, events or things . . . highlights one of the paradoxes of the digital era. While the Internet boom has made information more accessible and widespread than ever, that very ubiquity also threatens records and artifacts that do not easily lend themselves to digitization — because of cost, but also because Web surfers and more devoted data hounds simply find it easier to go online than to travel far and wide to see tangible artifacts.

“This is the great problem right now, and it’s a scary thing,” said the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

“The dots are only connected by a few of us who are willing to go to the places to make those connections.”



One response

14 03 2007

And this sounds incredibly cool — not that I really understand it yet!
The Knowledge Web and Metaweb

ED. NOTE: In May, 2004, Edge published Danny Hillis’s essay in which he
proposed Aristotle: The Knowledge Web. “With the knowledge web,” he
wrote, “humanity’s accumulated store of information will become more
accessible, more manageable, and more useful. Anyone who wants to learn
will be able to find the best and the most meaningful explanations of
what they want to know. Anyone with something to teach will have a way
to reach those who what to learn. Teachers will move beyond their
present role as dispensers of information and become guides, mentors,
facilitators, and authors. The knowledge web will make us all smarter.
The knowledge web is an idea whose time has come.”

Last week, Hillis announced a new company call Metaweb, and the free
database, Freebase.com. The launch was covered by John Markoff in his
New York Times article “Start-Up Aims for Database to Automate Web
Searching” [3.9.07].

Below is an addendum to his essay he has written for Edge, a link to
Markoff’s article, as well as links to the original essay, the
subsequent Edge Reality Club discussion.


By W. Daniel Hillis

…In retrospect the key idea in the “Aristotle” essay was this: if
humans could contribute their knowledge to a database that could be read
by computers, then the computers could present that knowledge to humans
in the time, place and format that would be most useful to them. The
missing link to make the idea work was a universal database containing
all human knowledge, represented in a form that could be accessed,
filtered and interpreted by computers.

One might reasonably ask: Why isn’t that database the Wikipedia or even
the World Wide Web? The answer is that these depositories of knowledge
are designed to be read directly by humans, not interpreted by
computers. They confound the presentation of information with the
information itself. The crucial difference of the knowledge web is that
the information is represented in the database, while the presentation
is generated dynamically. Like Neal Stephenson’s storybook, the
information is filtered, selected and presented according to the
specific needs of the viewer. …


March 9, 2007

Start-Up Aims for Database to Automate Web Searching
By John Markoff

SAN FRANCISCO, March 8 – A new company founded by a longtime
technologist is setting out to create a vast public database intended to
be read by computers rather than people, paving the way for a more
automated Internet in which machines will routinely share information.

The company, Metaweb Technologies, is led by Danny Hillis, whose
background includes a stint at Walt Disney Imagineering and who has long
championed the idea of intelligent machines. …

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