What Do We Know When There's Too Much To Know?

Jan 3, 2012

David Weinberger, our guest today, argues that our reservoir of information has become so huge and complicated that one of the standard activities of knowledge-making -- shaping facts into testable theories and equations -- doesn't really work any more. Scientists take data and build models. Then they watch the models to see what happens.

Weinberger provides us with an exciting description of the shift in knowledge, away from structure and hierarchy and toward a type of knowledge that's linked, open to the public and open to debate.

It all works pretty well in environments where everybody is pursuing the truth or the advancement of human understanding. It gets a little trickier when other agendas creep out on stage. Most of us get, on an almost daily basis, forwarded e-mails full of untruths and distortions.

When you confront, as I sometimes do, the forwarders with the whole question of truth, they often respond with a kind of shrugging agnosticism.

What is knowledge today? How is the Internet reshaping how knowledge is formed and cataloged?

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