The one-sentence summary
Our concept of knowledge needs to be re-examined now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room.
· We used to know how to know – by getting answers from books or experts, and taking them as facts.
· In the internet age, knowledge has moved onto networks. There’s more ‘knowledge’ than ever, but it’s different.
· All the nails (anchor points) have been pulled up, topics have no defined boundaries, and nobody agrees on anything.
· This can increase understanding, but you need to know how to be a modern knowledge seeker.
· The classic pyramid of knowledge shows data at the base, rising through layers of information, knowledge, understanding, and with wisdom at the top.
· We now have information overload, but really it is filter failure. People now use aggregated judgements to cope, but these often mean that the facts aren’t really facts – just interpretations.
· The new shape of knowledge is: wide, boundary-free, populist, and ‘other’-credentialed (it was probably ‘verified’ somewhere else).
· The book’s hypothesis is that in a networked world, knowledge lives not in books or our heads, but in the network itself.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
· It works through a number of areas that networks affect:
· The networking of expertise: it used to be topic-based, with value lying in the certainty of conclusions, but it was often opaque and one-way – not any more.
· The importance and limits of diversity: an echo chamber merely reflects and perpetuates views – so-called group polarization. When it diverges, it is subject to forking.
· Long-form thinking (arguments developed in books) versus hyperlinked webs (shorter arguments, but with all sources available by links)
· All knowledge and experience is an interpretation.
· Technodeterminism is the belief that technology causes us to use and understand it in particular ways, but it doesn’t really.
· Characteristics of the net are: abundance, links, being permission-free, public, and unresolved.
· We thought that knowledge was scarce, but in fact it was just that our bookshelves were small.
· Networked knowledge brings us closer to the truth about knowledge.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
· It veers off a bit into science and leadership issues, but is a thought-provoking discussion of how we should re-think our approach to knowledge.