Friday, July 10, 2009

Problems, questions, answers, issues, ideas, speculation, processes, and imagination in a Knowledge Web

Today I happened to run across this quote from Albert Einstein:

Imagination is more important than knowledge...

Well, yeah, I suppose that does make sense.

A little more Googling turned up a more complete version of that quote:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Okay, I get it.

Now, I am pondering whether imagination should have some role or position in a comprehensive Knowledge Web. Not so much as actual, real entities, but maybe as placeholders for gaps where we know that something may be missing but we do not know what the missing link actually might be. We can also make use of links to indicate uncertainties about our knowledge. And, more directly to the point of imagination, we can represent speculation for the possibility of future knowledge.

Speculation is maybe simply the midpoint between imagination and knowledge.

A conjecture is a form of speculation.

In fact, one might consider a conjecture as a slightly congealed form of imagination.

Ditto for an idea, but an idea is even less congealed than a more formalized conjecture.

Imagination is more of a mental process, which generates ideas.

I think it makes a lot of sense for a Knowledge Web to include problems, questions, answers, and issues as first-class entities in the Knowledge Web, ranking right up there with knowledge itself, in the sense that they are conceptual things that we work with. Similarly, we do in fact work with ideas, conjectures, theories, and other forms of speculation.

Imagination per se does in fact fit into a Knowledge Web as a conceptual entity in the same way as any other process, whether physical or mental, and is a conceptual thing that we can contemplate, discuss, and record.

But processes also transcend a Knowledge Web in the sense that they do have an active life of their own, distinct from pure knowledge itself.

We can also speak of a Knowledge Web as supporting or facilitating a process.

A Knowledge Web can obviously store information about the various artifacts that may be generated by a process, whether physical or mental.

Nonetheless, imagination would seem to be a very special process unlike all other processes. Most processes have at least some degree of predictability and in most cases it is that predictability that yields the most value. In contrast, imagination is highly unpredictable and it is that unpredictability that is most highly valued.

How to mesh unpredictability into a Knowledge Web is an interesting challenge.

Ultimately, we want a Knowledge Web that supports creativity, encouraging and facilitating imagination and other creative thought processes, and enabling realistic conceptualization of our ideas so that they can be carried into development and practice, as we see fit.

-- Jack Krupansky


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