The AllKnowledgeLibrary seeks to create infrastructure that facilitates peer-review and rapid dissemination of newly distilled knowledge. The structure of the library is intended to free scientists and thinkers from the overhead of writing and reviewing funding proposals. Instead of tending to these administrative duties, the structure of the library encourages scientists to think, experiment, and clearly communicate the results of their efforts to their peers and society at large.
The AllKnowledgeLibrary builds from existing Wiki technology and ReputationEconomies? to create a trust based microfinance system of funding research. Because access to funds within the community depends upon the trust of ones peers, the system encourages scientists to spend their funds efficiently.
The microfinance (MicroPayment?), trust-based funding model allows the library to employ a revolutionary intellectual property policy that encourages re-use rather than redundancy.
It is redundant to continually re-describe particular ThoughtChunks whenever a related topic comes up. Wiki provides an elegant solution to this problem. Wiki makes it fast and easy to explore large involved ideas by splitting them into smaller, more manageable, and most importantly random access ThoughtChunks. The technology enables efficient splitting of complex topics into smaller ThoughtChunks by automagically linking pages and simplifying editing and adding pages down to its essential nub. Additionally, the wiki software can provide transparent version control and facilitate a much more efficient form of intellectual property acknowledgement than the traditional citation system.
In chapter 2 of "Lila", Robert Pirsig describes his system of writing a book explaining his Metaphysics Of Quality philosophy. All of his thoughts are written down on 11,000 4x6 slips of notepad paper that are organized in four long card-catalog-type trays. Writing about his alter-ego Phaedrus in the third person he enigmatically states, "The main purpose of the slips was not to help him remember anything. It was to help him forget it." Wiki has exactly the same purpose but uses technology to make it even easier to forget!
Random access to information is great for many things, it is not great for presentations. Presentations are inherently sequential rather than random access. Presentations seek to lead an audience through a well paced progression of ideas. NetworkTours? enhance the utility of collaborative networks by providing the disciplines and facilities to create powerful sequential presentations while still retaining the information encapsulation advantages that a network of random access ThoughtChunks naturally possesses.
NetworkTours? should be targeted at well-defined audiences. Careful audience targeting allows a tour guide to tailor the order and depth in which the tour topics are covered in a way that best meets the needs of the audience.
NetworkTours? guide the attention of network tourists as they journey through a potentially overwhelming maze of informationally dense topics.
NetworkTours? are special sequential progressions through the material that are facilitated by a TourGuide?. The TourGuide? provides information that simplifies and enlivens the transitions between stops along the tour. The TourGuide? organizes and presents a select subset of the information contained in a particular stop according to the stated aims of the tour. Each tour is a hop-on hop-off sort of affair where an interested tourist can leave the official tour to explore on their own and then rejoin the tour exactly where they left off at any time.
Each "book" at WikiBooks is something like a network tour. It's designed to be a path where people reading the last "module" (wiki page) of the book can be assumed to have already digested the previous chapters, much like a paper book. But many "modules" in each book end with a "For further reading" section where people especially interested in some topic can leave the book for other places (other wikibooks, other wiki, other static web pages, other paper books) that have more detail.
Each "resource" at WikiVersity is something like a network tour. It's designed to be a sequential progression through material. Many of these resources are "reading lists", where one is expected to read a chapter of a book or some distant static web page, and then come back to discuss it. An interested tourist can leave at any time and then rejoin the tour exactly where they left off.
Most effort in scholarship is wasted effort. Scholars are forced to rewrite the same things over and over again to avoid treading on each other's toes. This means that the genuine nuggets are buried amongst tons of repetitive drivel. Thus, anyone new to a topic must spend a great deal of time orienting themselves to the community in order to discover which voices best reward a listener who invests their time.
Explicit ReputationEconomies? provide the answer to this and other conundrums. Consider http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/. It functions in exactly the same way that google functions. A spider crawls the web looking for online computer science papers. Whenever the spider finds a paper in a format it can understand, it adds the paper to its index. As papers are added to the index, their citations are extracted and catalogued. Citeseer keeps track of citations to a paper and citations from a paper. This lets a new reader quickly find which are the influential or "hub" papers and authors in the topic they are interested in. The index also makes it easier to find your way to the topic if you aren't already familiar with it by making each of a paper's citations a link to the paper cited. By repeatedly choosing the most related papers and clicking on them, you can gradually home in on the topic you are really interested in.
The citeseer/google sort of ReputationEconomy? enormously improves the efficiency of researchers by bubbling the best up to the top of the attentional stack. An additional significant boost in academic productivity could be achieved by breaking up the literature into reusable ThoughtChunks that are free for anyone to use. Scientists create NetworkTours? through the network of ThoughtChunks rather than writing papers in the traditional way. Whenever a particular ThoughtChunk is improved by the contribution of a scientist, those that notice the improvement should boost the reputation of that scientist. Furthermore, the existence of a complete history of every change allows anyone to trace an idea back to its source.
One immediate objection to this proposal is that writing papers is what scientists do to get funding and this proposal seems to nearly do away with the paper writing process entirely. It's true, this proposal seeks to do away with the wasteful practice of writing papers. Instead, the scientist is asked to spend time thinking and experimenting rather than writing papers. The AllKnowledgeLibrary is an extension of the scientist's brain. When the scientist thinks about a topic, he/she does so by considering what is already written on the topic and adding value to what is there. When a scientist collects experimental data, all phases of the experiment are documented. This means that even before the scientist runs any subjects or makes any observations the entire study architecture is vetted by the community of people that care about the topic. There are no secrets any longer. There is no waiting for months to reveal in one fell swoop the consumation of your efforts. There are no scoops. Every thought that you want credit for should be documented at the time you think it.
If I can't write more papers than my collegues, how can I attract funds for my work? Your talents as a scientist will provide you with access to people and money based directly on your reputation in the community. You are free to build your reputation in whatever way you can. Presumably the community will reward those who most efficiently contribute value to the community with the reputation neccessary to secure the assets they need to continue contributing.
Please notice how poorly refined this particular ThoughtChunk is and consider increasing its value by reworking it. I guarantee that your work (even if it is just fixing a speling error) will not go unnoticed! Also, just append comments and questions to the end of this page as you work, or sprinkle them in close to where they are most relevant.