Knowledge Federation Act Two

The  invitation flyer for the Dubrovnik workshop and the new Knowledge Federation website having been completed,  Act Two of Knowledge Federation development is about to begin.

You may think of a knowledge federation as a new way of orchestrating knowledge work, which suits the interactive, networked media technology as astutely as the conventional organization suited the printing press. You may imagine it as akin to the value chain model in contemporary business; in a knowledge federation experts from distinct disciplines join other stake holders to work on a specific task. The task of Knowledge Federation – the first knowledge federation – is to create this new way of doing knowledge work by creating itself. At our forthcoming workshop we will be developing the Knowledge Federation by beginning to evolve complete systemic solutions for journalism, science and education, including both social organization and technical tools.

The Knowledge Federation logo was created by Fredrik Refsli, the communication designer on our team. It depicts knowledge federation as creation of new meaning objects from a colorful variety of separate documents.

While my recent entries in this blog motivate Knowledge Federation in a variety of ways, one  point, I feel, still remains to be made clear.

Think about the challenge of re-inventing the notion of computer programming for the age of the Web. I mean, take a moment to reflect about what might be a reliable way of designing very large systems, analogous to programs in the old single-computer world, but much, much larger. I am talking about new ways of doing for ex. journalism, academic communication and education, and also politics, and socializing and…, which have been made possible by new communication media.

It is clear that those new ‘programs’ will be technology-mediated social processes. It is perhaps less obvious the new ‘programmers’ will also need to be technology-mediated social processes (see my Knowledge Federation Elevator Pitch No. 10). Nobody is that smart, and should not even try to be, to tackle this multifaceted task alone, not to speak about the trust and power issues (more about this in a forthcoming post). Solutions on this scale need to be co-created through cooperation of domain experts and stake holders representing a variety of backgrounds, skills and interests. Those solutions need to be tested, and allowed to evolve through use.

What might be a ‘programming environment’ suitable for this sort of ‘programming’? Earlier one only needed a computer to run and test a program. But what sort of ‘computer’ will enable us to implement and test solutions on the scale of a whole society or culture? We cannot just re-program the whole big thing…

The solution to this puzzle is Doug Engelbart’s ellegant idea – bootstrapping. Our ‘programmer’ must be a social process that uses itself as ‘programming environment.’ What we need is a technology-mediated social process that creates itself.

And that is what we are creating.

I sent the following letter to the members of Knowledge Federation Google Group:

Dear knowledge federators,

I am pleased to invite you to contribute to the Second International
Workshop on Knowledge Federation, which will take place in Dubrovnik,
October 3-6 (please download the invitation flyer).

While new communication technologies continue to emerge, the question
‘How will those technologies affect the conventional practice in key
areas such as journalism, science and education?’  is recurring.  I am
enthusiastic about the prospect that this October in Dubrovnik we will
be co-creating new patterns and systemic solutions in this domain of
growing import.

While Jack shares my enthusiasm, he keeps reminding me that it is
essential for knowledge federation that we “check our personal agendas
at the door” and leave room for a community agenda to emerge through
dialogue. A result is that we have both an exciting agenda, and a
commitment to dialogue.

In the spirit of federation, please consider this event your
own, and extend an invitation to colleagues that need to be invited.

And join us in Dubrovnik and help us begin a new chapter in knowledge

Warm regards,


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