Scrap Web 2.0, yes, but embrace Knowledge 2.0 surely

Perhaps I read too much Heinlein and Asimov as a teenager, but the kind of feeling I got reading science fiction then is the same type of feelings I get now while observing the unfolding of Knowledge 2.0.

Gavin Clarke at The Register provides a needed wet blanket to toss over all things "... 2.0," especially Web 2.0. In many respects he's right that the nomenclature suffix business is out of hand. Yet there is something new, quite new, going on and it should be acknowledged.

Part of recognizing the big new thing comes from Gavin's own article, which quotes a podcast transcript provided by IBM's developerWorks organization. The discussion captured and provided by IBM -- and evangelized by the press and bloggers like me -- is with Tim Berners-Lee, the individual credited with inventing the Web.

So here's a snarky mainstream IT website in the U.K., quoting a global U.S-based, vendor-supported podcast and accompanying transcript, fully open to anyone, that captures a natural-language telephone conversation between a vendor-hired editor and a European Web pioneer on a host of interesting and worthwhile technology and sociology topics and thoughts. It's all a quick search or a click or two away from just about anyone, anywhere.

Can you imagine such a thing just 10 years ago? What really deserves the numeral 2 associated with it at this time in history is not advertising, nor marketing, nor SOA, nor even the Web. It's quite a bit larger than that. What we are up to here is actually Knowledge 2.0, and it is at least a millennial trend, and it shows every indication of having anthropologic impact. That is, Knowledge 2.0 is changing the definition of what it is to be a modern human, individually and collectively.

When so much knowledge -- which includes art, bad music, data, goofy photos, deep insights, personal diatribes, porn, all the books ever written, satellite images of Earth, and spam -- is so easily available and categorized and stored and commented on, and when the barriers to finding at least some information on just about anything are so low ... well, something is definitely different.

Increasingly a major portion of the human experiential store is being digitized and made available to anyone. More importantly, much of the new stuff made of, by, and for humans is being created digitally and made available to anyone. Sometimes it's free, mostly it's affordable.

I know some bloggers and trolls think this is all just a rehash of other big information shifts, ala Gutenberg's press and cuneiform, or perhaps the advent of standards for telling time and measuring the size of a sack of flour. But I think this is shaping up to fundamentally change how people not only behave and learn, but how they define themselves and their world.

You now have a role within the global knowledge hive ... your personal scale has shifted. I'm thinking of change here on the scale of going bi-pedal, or being able to remember and recognize more than 10 people's facial expressions due to a sudden advance in cranial capacity.

Perhaps I read too much Heinlein and Asimov as a teenager, but the kind of feeling I got reading science fiction then is the same type of feeling I get now while observing the unfolding of Knowledge 2.0. It is awe.

What's especially interesting this year, and what smacks most of the Web 2.0 characterization, is that community is being applied to knowledge in new ways. The idea that vast amounts of knowledge bits can be evaluated -- even by glancing gestures or a fleet dab of attention (dig it?) -- so that said tid-bits become more valuable by moving within a vague hierarchy of attention by vast numbers of those experiencing the knowledge in real time is oh, so powerful. And at such scale and richness and speed, such critiquing is unprecedented.

The Knowledge 2.0 scale goes way up, and it goes way down. Fast. Content is not just created by "users," it's fomented into some order by other users too. And so on. And so on. Talk about peer review. There are always downsides to change, of course.

Now, for better or worse, anyone at all is a publisher, editor, evaluator, deleter, pundit, cynic, sharer, prophet, detractor, tattle-tale, ignorer, lier, pathetic, apathetic -- all of which anyone has done in their own personal or local sphere for as long as there was Knowledge 1.0. Now that sphere of knowledge interaction has no surface tension or bounds, it is only an inclusive shape.

The Knowledge 2.0 bubble is exploding, and it can not burst.

So while the get-off-your-cloud folks are poking needles into the Web 2.0 bubble, I have a better idea. Recognize that as you do that you are actually breathing in some of the newly freer air of knowledge, and exhaling some added bits of your own perceptions back in. Each metaphoric breath in and out is changing the world, like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings in Timbuktu that then affects the weather in New York.

Like rare but all-altering biological explosions of the past -- we are in the equivalent of a Cambrian Period of human Knowledge.

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