Knowledge federation for Stanford

Stanford is a non-department. It has been established by several departments to cross the disciplinary boundaries and teach design thinking to everyone, and apply it to any subject or issue. My visit to a month ago was memorable. The similarities with what we have been doing at the University of Oslo are encouraging, and so are also the differences.

So I thought about planting a seed of design (understood as strategic improving of wholeness) on this fertile ground. Jeremy Utley circulated the following letter, which he helped me compose, among the faculty.

Dear Jeremy,

Thanks for the tour and conversation and for helping me bring our Knowledge Federation Project to the attention of your colleagues.

In true “Show Don’t Tell” fashion, I would like to introduce the project with this two-minute teaser video, which we recently made for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, accompanied by the following prompt:

Imagine the world fifty years from now. Our sustainability-related and other challenges have been resolved, and the human society is experiencing an unprecedented era of progress and well-being. The people are looking back at our time, and with the sort of clarity with which we look at our own past, they see that our pursuit of happiness, as well as our democracy, could not have functioned as conceived. They know that it is well beyond any human’s ability to synthesize all pieces of knowledge—scattered across so many academic disciplines, cultural traditions and documents—to form an opinion about any complex issue. They have learned that this task has to be handled by a reliable and democratic social process.

The enabling technology has just recently been developed. In fact, much of it (interactive document editing over the Internet, 2D console terminal, on-screen video, the mouse, hypermedia…) has been developed by a man living and working in your neighborhood. His purpose for doing that was to serve the vision I have just described. He is now 84 years old but still active. He will surely be glad to see a reliable social process that can continue this work.

I propose that we design this process together.

Best wishes,

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