Knowledge Organisation


Kim H. Veltman

New Media and New Knowledge

Proceedings of the Third Canadian Conference on Foundations and Applications of General Science Theory: Universal Knowledge Tools and their Applications, Ryerson, 5- 8 June 1993, Toronto: Ryerson Polytechnic University, 1993, pp. 347-358.

1. Introduction
2. Pipelining and Process
3. Computers as Number and Word Crunchers
4. Knowledge as Objects and Substance
5. Knowledge as Function and Abstraction
6. Knowledge as Social Construction and Reconstruction
7. Knowledge and Intelligence
8. Verbal and Visual Knowledge
9. Enduring and Ephemeral Knowledge
10. Knowledge as Domains and Levels
11. Quantity and Quality
12. The Role of Tracking
13. Editing and Non-Integrity
14. Conclusions.

1. Introduction

If we accept Marshall McLuhan's dictum that the medium is the message then the advent of computers will affect not only the speed with which we gain access to knowledge, but will also transform our sense of what it means to know. This is all the more true because unlike radio or television, which were discrete media focussing on specific senses, the term "computer" is actually a synecdoche, whereby a part stands for a whole range of electronic media. Among the few who are not just talking about but are exploring how multimedia can transform our approaches to knowledge, is Seymour Papert, who believes that traditional emphasis on the three R's: reading, writing and arithmetic is outmoded and foresees a new visual approach emphasizing pictures rather than words, which will supposedly liberate us from the confines of "letteracy". Others speak imaginatively of "info-surfing hypertext keywords".

In our view the consequences of the new media lie elsewhere. We begin by examining two short-term effects of computers: a new emphasis on pipelining and on brute force in a computational sense. A number of alternative models of knowledge are then reviewed. The latter part of the paper suggests that the deeper implications of computers lie in providing multi-dimensional access to domains and kinds of knowledge and in tracking abilities.

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