Having taken a whistle-stop tour of the concept(s) of World-Brain, World Library and World Encyclopedia; we are now in a position to ask: how is a UKM different? What are its essential features/ advantages – what structure/form shall it take – and how can it be built? Upon what technologies/ processes/assumptions does it rely?
In simple terms, we wish to build and organize the World-Brain in such a manner that the system is able to cope with immense complexity in terms of the logical, descriptive, prescriptive, ontological and metaphorical variety of all human knowledge – seen in totality; and on a vast range of physical plus metaphysical scales/levels/ contexts; and incorporating all known, possible and recorded: ideas, thoughts, facts, categories, objects, subjects, topics, domains and levels-of-being etc. We wish to capture the vast scale of all human knowledge, and record/ visualize the interconnection(s) of everything to everything else.
The UKM is to be a marvelous oracle – or near- endless reflection of the totality of knowledge of the universe – or cosmos; the same being a system that is ever growing – and be inexhaustible in size, scope, context, depth (detail) and breadth of subject areas contained therein. And just like Wikipedia it is the users who will enter all the information. And all this happens in real time – because the new additions and constant edits must be permanently recorded, plus reversible/hideable (for a specific view) and ever changeable/editable. Views must contain an edit history for example – plus offer live annotations and opinions of all flavors – and with respect toeachand every‘nugget’ofinformation.
And all the data will be finely organized and structured into eminently logical categories, complete with ‘thickets’ of true relations – and all topic(s) mapped onto classifications/overviews – and with guiding diagrams/ orienting-systems/topic-maps/contextualizing- mechanisms available wherever possible (See Figures 16,17).
On the UKM, we shall have 3 core processes constantly ongoing by millions of simultaneous actors:
• DataOrganization:classification/organization/linkage; • Data Access/viewing/extraction;
Whereby we can have both/either human- processes and/or automatic machine-based processes constantly performing the same tasks.
A primary goal of the UKM, is to store a great variety of ideas, concepts, images, and data – simultaneously gathered and sourced/stored in a distributed sense. All-in-all we can say that the contained information will need to be carefully formatted/organized/curated – and be presented or be accessible within/by-means-of a great variety of different access-methods, display-formats and mappings – at any moment in time. The UKM also partitions and aggregates everything together in a myriad of different ways; at variable/disparate: magnifications/minifications, granularities/chunks, windows and directions of comparison, degrees of difference and linkage, grades of clarity etc. We seek to build a knowledge system whose purpose is nothing less than an all-encompassing and mind-expanding Cosmic Unity – or top-level synthesis – in which each and every item/relation finds its rightful place(s) within the grand scheme of all human knowledge.
The World-Brain will be a type of Disneyland For the Mind – in the sense of being an endlessly explorable vista of vast numbers of intellectual worlds/pathways/ contexts/panoramas. Revealed will be previously hidden relations, linkages, truths, correspondences etc; in every language and with every possible datum/fact/ opinion(claim) on any item saved (source/author ‘stamped’ and tied to all other related datums/facts/claims/ versions etc) – and all accessible from a single networked location.1 Kim Veltman put the UKM concept succinctly:
The 20th c. saw a trend whereby “facts” were complemented by facets (e.g. the PMEST of Ranganathan – see below): i.e. it is not the subject gold per se that is important: it is the facets, how much, where, when, how, why that add up to an important picture. (personal communication to author).
We desire to build into the UKM; efficient Memory Theatre’s, Memory Tools and Augmented Knowledge Tools, plus Action/Vision/Contextualizing Tools etc.
Overall we seek to foster properly organized mental, written, logical, visual and action elements – such that the sum total of all human knowledge is properly contextualised and topologically mapped, with visible interconnection. Put simply, we wish to enable appropriate and effective ‘geometries, topologies and processes of thinking’. This knowledge web must provide access to not just explicit sources; but also readily guide the user to hidden relationships, invisible links and previously opaque layers of knowledge at the level of words, letters, numbers, geometries etc. Our UKM must release and provide access to, plus facilitate, new: Arrangements, Scales, plus Levels and Spans of Knowledge; Classifications, Windows, Linkages, Overviews, Summaries, Partitions, Aggregations, Universals and Particulars etc; and all available using PMEST type queries (see below) – Who What, Where, When, How etc.
A capability that needs to be introduced is that we need an historically changing set of “windows” into the universal or global brain of knowledge: i.e. the world accessible to the Greeks, the Romans or the Renaissance Italians were different. [Kim Veltman]
Hence the UKM will be designed from the start to be a place to record – and window – facts, opinions, and matters of human agreement and discord – that is, to faithfully memorize human collective viewpoints, plans, creations and actions. It shall record not only each fact/ idea/datam/event and the author/source, but also how that same fact/idea/datam/event is interlinked with related item(s) and also variants (N.B. It may take some considerable period of time and effort to achieve/collate the same into a practical system). Ergo human thoughts and actions shall become collectively visible.
Crucially here, it is the definition of knowledge – used in building the UKM that is important. The Web proceeds as if everything is certain, is true, and exists in isolation.2
As noted by Kim Veltman, this is where the 10 Indian distinctions between the means of certain knowledge becomes important (see below). Plus Kim notes that the PMEST, giving the missing Who, When and Where must be included; and not only What and How as in the Web. How can this all be achieved you may ask? Is such an all-encompassing system not impossible and/or beyond our imaginations/capabilities to create? Well perhaps the UKM it is not so conceptually difficult to imagine – or at least to begin building. It was Emmanuel Goldberg who first put forward ideas related to the need for an atomisation of knowledge; and so lead to library catalogues becoming properly linked together atomically (using micro-thoughts or thought-atoms as the basic unit of linkable knowledge) and thus with different levels of means of knowledge – not just isolated facts but linked via facetted classifications etc.
Missing on the Web is an explicit consideration of all cogitation seen as an integral part of a universal thinking-space within which all human- activity – mental and physical – takes place and/or derives. Mental relations are saturated with natural, technological and human-made (individual + social _ cultural): laws, events, structures, mappings, behaviours and form(s) etc; and the ‘rules-of-thought’ are (to some extent) pre-existing and pre-determined.
The problem is that we cannot see/touch all of the items plus contexts because they are not very accessible – and because they are not properly linked-together/aggregated in an atomic fashion – but rather they are hidden deep inside opaque files and web pages plus isolated databases. As Ted Nelson has noted the atoms of information might as well be – each and every one – hidden in Canopic Jar(s) – just as the Ancient Egyptians used to do with dead and mummified relatives. In short, data units on the web are too lumpy (files, web pages etc), and items are wholly disconnected, one from another.
What to do? Perhaps a brief look at what is wrong with the Web (in theoretical terms) can get us started.