Knowledge as we've known it for 100 years has been knocked over by little hyperlinks, says David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and co-director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.
In his keynote address at the 2012 KMWorld Conference in October, Weinberger says, "Now we have a new medium and this medium is capacious beyond belief, and is linked. So what we're seeing within this capacious medium is knowledge living at the level of the network, not in the individual nodes, not in the books, not in the minds of the individual experts, but knowledge now consists, in my view, of knowledge networks."
As one example of a knowledge network, Weinberger discusses networked science. In 1919, for example, all you could learn about Einstein might be limited to one newspaper article. It might be weeks or months before you could learn more about him, because knowledge was limited to a newspaper. Now, there are websites like arXiv.org where scientists can post anything, without review, just to get their ideas out in public and form a network, a linked environment in which others can agree or disagree. "That is a very different idea of what it means to have knowledge," Weinberger says.
Weinberger also speaks about the concept of "smart rooms." "We're going from a time of thinking that the smartest person in the room is the one at the front, or that the loudest, most obnoxious person, the person who dominates is almost always a male, [to a time] where we have the next level of intelligence, which is from the network of people who are in the room physically or virtually."
How do we make rooms smarter? Weinberger says we should appreciate the power of difference, commit to public learning, embrace mess and inclusion, and open a window to another room.
In concluding his keynote address, Weinberger says, "Every one of us feels and is smarter in all the important ways because we have the Net at our fingertips."
And he adds, "What we have in common isn't one knowledge about which we agree, but a shared world about which we disagree."
To view the full presentation, watch the video below.