Getting Started

I am pleased to craft one of the first posts at our new foundation’s website. TopicQuests Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable corporation, registered in California.

The Foundation originated in conversations between Martin Radley, and me, later adding Mark Szpakowski. Those conversations began in early 2010; it’s some six years between the idea and today as we finally take our vision online.  Martin left the conversation to continue a parallel vision; we look forward to a grand federation of all such visions.

On our landing page, there are two slide presentations, one which sketches the overall vision of what we call Knowledge Gardening and one which speaks to a vision for a World Wise Web.  Our vision is, in fact, an interpretation of the late Douglas Engelbart’s call for humans, their knowledge, and the tools with which they collaborate, to, at once, network and to co-evolve.  That is, as human knowledge grows, and as human abilities to learn and to apply that knowledge improve, so must the tools they use.  Dr. Engelbart spoke of networked improvement communities, and often referred to the concept of a dynamic knowledge repository; that concept we simply call a knowledge garden: a federation of networked improvement communities.

Each improvement community is called a Topic Garden in our slides; I sometimes refer to them as condos in the garden, but that term can be problematic in this sense. While there can be many different designs for improvement communities, our first open source approach centers on the application of Role-playing Games to mediate deep conversations on matters that matter, what we call Quests. It’s reasonable to think of something  like WorldOfWarcraft meets global sensemaking.

Each improvement community can be a member of a federation, specifically a federation of the knowledge assets growing in the networked communities.  Our open source implementation is a Topic Map, which behaves somewhat like a good road map in this sense: for each subject of conversation in the garden, the map will have one and only one location for a view of all that is knowable to the map about that subject. At the same time, the topic map, like a road map, represents relations among all those topics.

A visible value in the federation process is this: most Topic Gardens will exist for particular reasons. For instance, an important Topic Garden would be one which serves the needs of, say, cancer patients, researchers, and clinics.  Another, say, climate change, and yet another, or several, on aspects of politics and policy making.  As those communities work with various information resources and generate topics, the federation provides a means to accumulate, organize, and present all those resources and topics. When many different communities are working with the same topics, the federation provides the equivalent of wormholes among the communities; new ideas can emerge by simply noticing what others are saying about topics of interest.

We will have much more to say, going forward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *