I was working on a hackathon project today around web3 and knowledge creation. The internet seemed rooted in a utopian knowledge project and was inspired by things like Vannevar Bush’s Memex. The history of the world is littered with knowledge projects. Does web3 provide any technology to rethink knowledge? What web3 can do is connect knowledge with value in an exact and quantifiable way, and provide a clear lineage of knowledge – what ideas grow from which ideas.
We have the encyclopedists of the enlightenment – people like Diderot. We have the monasteries, universities, and libraries of the Middle Ages and the libraries of the ancient world like the Library of Alexandria. Reading and writing, once the barrier to knowledge, are table stakes, and the barriers now are things like spaceships and laboratories.
I am constantly amazed at what I can learn from web2 crowdsourced information like youtube and Wikipedia. This sort of knowledge is like a modern decentralized encyclopedia or library. For this hackathon, we are working on networks of knowledge – a flow diagram to accumulating more knowledge. It is about optimizing knowledge production – or perhaps solutioning.
To connect knowledge production to solutioning makes me uneasy. I definitely am interested in purposeless knowledge – but I am probably in the minority. And, truth be told, we do have a bunch of problems that could use organized knowledge solutions to fix – like climate change. Many times when I attempt to solution – one of the best things I can do is simplify the problem and remove chaos – ie do less and have other people do less. But with some of these tricky problems we are facing today perhaps we need a new way to think about knowledge just as the encyclopedia was a new way to think about knowledge during the enlightenment.