The PMEST (personality, matter, energy, space, time) of S.R. Ranganathan (1892 – 1972) brings an interesting perspective on knowledge organisation – whereby this was one of the first ever faceted – or fully systematic – (or analytico-synthetic) classification scheme for knowledge units. PMEST blends analytical (focussing/delimitation/identification) methods with synthetic (or relational) aspects; and is a useful scheme.
But the system is not entirely unique. Other’s have identified 3 Levels of Representation as follows:
B) Conceptual (included here are ideas, images, movies and
similar ‘coded’ information formats); and
C) Associationist; often combined with 3 Levels of Coherence as follows: A) Distinction / Difference (Structure); B) Identity (Unity); and C) Linkage (Relation).
Dr Ingetraut Dahlberg (1927-) and the knowledge classificationists have usefully:
Identified 4 kinds of categorical relations:
• Properties • Activities
Plus they identify 4 kinds of relations:
• Abstraction • Partition
• Opposition • Functional
The upshot of such views is that human thinking – perceiving, creating and doing – conforms to essentially 3 categories as follows:
• Reciprocal-Relation (Nexus or Network)
We shall explore these 3 basic trends – and other related ones – in the present essay – and as key design aids/theme(s) for building the World-Brain.
As noted long ago by the Ancient Greeks, we humans seek regularity in nature, normally represented by predictable and universal truths. Accordingly we wish to reflect, store and find knowledge about real- world Things, and using related Thinking Aids – languages, systems, maps, media tools, and logical processes etc; thus to capture happenings with great accuracy etc. But all thinking takes place and is represented in the form of Concepts – in our various knowledge systems. In the OED, the word concept is defined as: The product of the faculty of conception; an idea of a class of objects, a general notion or idea (2nd form).
Ergo concepts are general in form – that is universal – and until we are able to pin these down to a particular fully specified individual or facetted form. In other words; particulars identify a real-world object/process instance – or Thing. And we employ PMEST type factors to do so – also sometimes referred to as What, Where, When, Who and Why (plus How) in the Western tradition.
Accordingly, we seek to record particulars or real- world Things – isolated facts, relations, and situation specific or problem grounded ideas, images, datums, objects etc – and then to link these together to better understand everything else (i.e. determine contextualised problem arenas). Hence CONCEPTS (universals) and THINGS (particulars) enable us to think, understand and control the world – and individual concepts and things whilst they may seem to be wholly isolated and unique – in fact never are. Each actual Thing instantiates a Concept or normally a group of related Things and/or Concepts. We therefore have nested relations of universals and particulars with which to represent, map, model and predict – past, present and future – realities.
Accordingly, all individual ideas – represented in terms of Concepts/Things – contain within themselves links to other ideas – and we are reminded of the famous saying – all in one and one in all.
And everywhere we look we see concepts/things and hence ideas/facts gathered or grouped into useful structures, logical groupings, stories, topic mappings, and process spaces – or domains of existence. The upshot is that real world objects (and related thoughts) never seem to be entirely isolated – but are engaged with the world in many different and complex ways. Put simply, things seem to be amalgamated into networks of relations and hierarchical or parallel groupings of various kinds – both physically in real- world living beings, eco-systems and natural and man-made worlds etc; but also metaphysically in the human mind as in universal and particular reflection(s) of creation (See Figures 18,19).
A key task of humanity is to study such diversity, relation and unity patterns – and within the natural, mental, and man-made worlds – identifying and carefully mapping aspects appropriately. A basic question is to decide if and how (in each case) we are looking at the unity of nature; or alternatively a unity that we ourselves put there – or map onto reality from our own creation(s). It is often a choice between projection or instantiation with respect to the unity that we see in everything and everywhere – in other words are relations real or imagined – originating from the mind – or from reality.
Another feature of human cognition is identification of universal: Theories, Principles and Laws (see later). For example, in terms of real world happenings; few people would doubt the accurate mapping (of at least partial) reality within the universal laws of physics; but many would question whether human legal laws – whilst based on ethics and morals – are truly existent – or simply a human projected structure on any society.
4.2 The World Wide Web (Design Flaws)
I do not wish to detail or list all of the different ways in which the World Wide Web – or Web – fails to deliver on all of the aforementioned practical capabilities and requirements of the UKM.
Many others have written eminent treatise on the same subject. I think that it is sufficient here, to simply point out that it all comes down to a failure of organization at the fundamental system design level.
Whereby items (Concepts, Things, Relations, Principles, Theories, Laws) are not sufficiently atomized – or linked together logically – and further that things can never be organized in this way on the Web unless we begin again and store everything (from the start) as universally organized (i.e. linkable/ partition-able/aggregate-able) micro-thoughts/ datums – and all saved in a Universal Data Format (UDF). The UDF allows omni-linking of atoms.
In Figure(s) 8 and 15 we see representation(s) of properly implemented hyper-text documentation system(s); which we can simplify into 5 components / requirements as follows:
A) Atomic units of information which are independently addressable;
B) Flinks (Floating Links) that are stored separately from content (atoms of data); and the links are permanent and unbreakable (see Ted Nelson);
C) Back-Links are preserved – so each link knows the details of where it is used in the overall system by some mechanism (makes Google search redundant) – plus these back-links must be organized categorically/topologically/relationally;
D) Forward-Links must be Omni-links / Manifold-links / Choices – overlaid one on top of another – and structured in terms of subjects / topics / relations – and so that you avoid blind single jumps to who knows where – but move in a planned way; and;
E) The system supports text Transclusions – or re-use of content at a range of aggregates / scales and in multiple places/times.
It is important to note that the design failures and/or functional limitations present on the Web/Internet will by no means exhaustively list – or fully delineate – the requirements of the World-Brain (see Table 1).