Subject: the object of learning :)
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 21:26:30 -0500
From: Shava Nerad 
To: "W. Curtiss Priest" 

> I would like to tell you ... one exciting effort is to
> realize HG Wells' dream of Building a World Brain:
> >

*wow* Curtiss!

I just went to read the essay here:
World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia
and a few of the items linked from the blog.

It seems what you are trying to do is an approach to codifying the 
platonic ideals in an OO [Object Oriented] database, is that a good
first cut on the objects theory?

It seems, in an odd way, like the computer gaming community may be a 
bit ahead of you. They are creating immersive virtual worlds which 
playfully lead to problem solving that often the game designers 
didn't anticipate. Game designers observe the gripes of the users and
integrate that feedback into the simulation. They have engines that
pick up on unexpected interactions without the need for the gamer to
complain, also.

Detail by detail, adding properties of objects and such, they create 
a simulation that seems more and more natural, something that
approaches "the matrix," in versimilitude and sheer usefulness. Your
goal would be to map a simulation for the real world, a far more
complex problem, like comparing the trompe d'oeil of 2d animation to
the efforts in creating prostheses to replace sight in the blind.

Now, a person who understands information can play knowledge/wisdom 
games with google and such, if they have that learning style. If they
are canny and synthetic, they can play the patterns into greater 
wholes. But they sort of have to be there already as proper initiates
of whatever messenger god you like -- Hermes, Ganesh -- the dieties
of interface, if you'll excuse the metaphor. But their learning is
only transitive, only adds to the culture, if they use what they
learn to actively teach it.

To create an environment where players of less skill, and/or with 
other styles of learning, could work and, yes, play to recover "the 
wisdom lost in knowledge, the knowledge lost in information" would be 
a fine goal for anyone. But what I see in your work, and tell me if I
am wrong, is an environment that learns semi-automatically from the 
efforts to learn *from* it. (I loved the "tree" example.)

The object-complex is dead useful, if it can be done. But this is 
what excites me: if the tools are there, can we induce some general 
self-initatory system -- some way to create tools for learning and 
exploration where synthesis emerges in the individual naturally, so 
learning builds in the sort of neural networks that indicate active, 
critical intelligence and systems thinking?

The goal is not the data objects, but what exploring the objects 
transforms in the individual, and for society.

Puts a very high requirement on the people who create the data and 
relationships, though. Don't you think that prejudicial coding is as 
likely to enforce convention as exploration is to create innovation?
It's an interesting tension.

My life tends to be a sequence of eureka moments. I strive to teach 
that. Tools are good.

Your project seems to be an odd combination of engineer, pedant, 
mystic and romantic. I think I like it. I can see why: >So far we
struggle with defining the project sufficiently >to approach some
identified funders.

Your "tree" essay was a good humored bump against the basic problem I
expect you have here.


-- Shava Nerad