Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Charles Ess's criticisms of the Global Brain idea

From: Bernard Vatant (
Date: Sat Jun 23 2001 - 02:35:53 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Charles Ess's criticisms of the Global Brain idea"

    Some comments on Charles Ess's criticisms of the Global Brain idea ...

    As Jack at least knows out of private conversations, I am one of those who
    stick to the notion that attempt(s) towards any Global Unameit may hide
    somewhere an implicit totalitarian view of the world, but OTOH strongly
    believe that we need some fertile utopias to push us forward. Global Brain
    is one of those ambiguous concepts, and basically Charles Ess's criticisms
    seem to the point.

    How to avoid the totalitarian trap? Maybe we have to think in terms of
    global tools rather than Global Solution(s). For example telephone and
    e-mail are global tools, like before them writing and printing. The bottom
    question is how much of the culture and ideology of the
    community/country/civilization/economic system inventing and spreading a
    tool is embedded in it.

    Now we are about knowledge technologies, and as their name indicate, those
    technologies have already and will have more and more built-in knowledge
    (ontologies, vocabularies, categories, basic structures of language). If we
    do not want to feed the totalitarian and colonialist soil, the tools we are
    now thinking about and develop have to preserve and sustain what I like to
    call *ontodiversity*. But we have learnt from nature that biodiversity is
    grounded on a single strong and versatile information code. That is the most
    amazing discovery of the past century. DNA is without contest the better
    information standard so far, allowing very subtle information interchanges
    between very different organisms. So what we have to invent is something
    like DNA for knowledge technologies. Some minimal common standard toolkit,
    able to support and help develop a large scope of views of the world and
    knowledge communities, allowing them to live independently but to share
    whatever they want anytime they want, and not forcing them to share
    everything all the time (we have to admit there is over 90% of human
    knowledge that you and I really don't care to share)
    For example "Topic Maps + OHS" seems a good candidate to be a toolkit of the
    sort. As far as I can see in my "immediate universe", it's the best
    available. But so far, everyone must admit here that developers and users of
    those technologies are mainly originating from the dominant western
    civilization. I'm looking forward to seeing Asiatic, Arabic, African ...
    people step into the community and tell how they feel about those tools,
    their "universality" and "neutrality", and their capacity to be used to
    carry and share their knowledge and views of the world. I had recently a
    conversation with a philosophy searcher whose study field is non-verbal
    communication, from autistic people expression to exchange between
    civilizations. She had a very acute vision that what we consider as basic
    notions like "subject" "object" "category" "statement" are not as universal
    as our "upper ontologists" like to think. So I wonder for example ... are
    "topic" "association" "role" bound to be really human universals, or
    conceptual fruits of our centuries-long culture?



    Mondeca - "Making Sense of Content"

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