Knowledge explosion – future directions!

Robert Cailliau, co-developer of the WWW, acted as Provocateur for Session 1. His aim was to explore emerging trends in a connected world and to delve into concepts of knowledge explosion and the ability of an individual’s brain.

I enjoyed listening to his session, in particular his ‘take’ on ideas and issues that have significant relevance to our work in education. He has, of course, an in-depth and longstanding understanding of ICT and ‘informatics’.

He asked

How will people cope with the world as it might be a decade from now, if that means ever more informatics and ever more ‘intertwinglings?

Interestingly he focused on science as a research tool, and the relationship between science and common sense. He suggests that the use of common sense in daily life is the norm, but the scientific approach focuses on observation of facts, formulation of hypothesis, predictions, hypothesis etc. He also recommends that scientific methods should be the basic tool for all thinking. We should use scientific methods and common sense in all subject matter, not just in science classes – BECAUSE – thinking is very ‘effort-full’.

However, Robert seemed to focus on science research as an empirical tool and did not include qualitative research processes, evidence-based practice, and evaluation as a process approach of change. Measurement tools of social research can enable thinking and conversation in order to create deeper understanding of our actions and our learning endeavors.

Robert reminded us that knowledge is increasingly becoming more difficult for the average brain to understand – things we know that the average person cannot grasp – e.g. quantum mechanics. There are things that cannot easily be explained, discussed, etc

Overall the audience was following his words closely – and his reference to SecondLife and other tools from a Web 2.0 environment was good to hear. However, his ‘take’ on SecondLife was rather skewed I thought. OK, only a few hands went up to the question ‘who has an avatar in second life’. Robert said that people go into interactive virtual worlds in SecondLife because

  • People don’t like the real world
  • Imagination is better
  • It can now be yours to build!

He then asked

Will education cope with people who are increasingly disinterested in the real world?

Oh dear – a very bad representation of the potential of SecondLife environments, and no recognition of the valuable education uses for which SecondLife is already being used.

So finally, because we will have to save the planet…keep learning and developing…we can only do this with

Real knowledge, good tools, and good leadership

3 thoughts on “Knowledge explosion – future directions!

  1. Robert, thanks for taking the time to chat. It was good to discover that I am actually ‘on the same page’ as your in thinking, and that time just didn’t allow delegates time to explore issues more closely together. A link to your site will help a lot of us to continue our reflection, and help us prepare for the ‘matrix’ future of AI and direct wired connection to virtual environments. There is much to learn, and great things to explore in Second LIfe, which we also talked about. The opportunities and ‘dangers’ of SecondLife need to be explored and understood. Let’s see how future learning is impacted by virtual environments beyond social networking of Web 2.0.

  2. Hi Judy,
    We just compared notes in real time and real life about what I said on Second Life. That section of my talk was “the Matrix”, the point being that people like virtual reality better that real reality. Second Life certainly has more potential than just a place where one can construct their own stuff: it is indeed about comunication, and was perehaps not the best illustration.
    Graham’s comment I have more difficulty with: MUDs were a communication environment, so indeed Second Life is ‘just” a MUD with graphics, or a fancy chat room with “bring your own room” possibilities.
    Finally, the mention of the scientific method was in contrast to dogmatic thinking. For lack of time I did not go into forms of acquiring knowledge for social interactions, which was not part of the subject.
    I’ll in due time extend this into pages on my own site, and be back here to give you a link to that.

  3. In an address to the gathered crowd recently at eFest in New Zealand, Stephen Downes described Second Life as being just like a MUD environment but with better graphics!! It is all about interacting with others and just leveraging technology to allow that to happen beyond the faces we see in our daily routines – as Alex Hayes likes to point out, it’s about the overlooked part of the ICT acronym – Communication!

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