31 December 2010

The Web of Knowledge – Past, Present and Future

Introduction (common to both blogs)

   Even if I started to blog 3-4 years ago, only this year (still 2010) I started to allocate more time for blogging, having two blogs on which I try to post something periodically: SQL Troubles and The Web of Knowledge plus a homonym Facebook supporting group (for the later blog). As a parenthesis, the two blogs are approaching related topics from different perspective, the first focusing on data related topics, while the second approaching data from knowledge and web perspective; because several posts qualify for both blogs, I was thinking to merge the two blogs, though given the different perspectives and types of domains that deal with them, at least for the moment I’ll keep them apart. Closing the parenthesis, I would like to point out that I would love to allocate more time though I have to balance between blogging, my professional and personal life, and even if the three have many points in common, some delimitation it’s necessary. Because it’s the end of a year, I was thinking that it’s maybe the best time to draw the line and analyze the achievements of the previous year and the expectations for the next year(s), for each of the two blogs. So here are my thoughts:

Past and Present
   As I highlighted long time before, I started this blog from the desire of learning and fantasizing more about Knowledge Representation, Knowledge Management, Semantic Web and other knowledge or Web-related topics. Unfortunately, from several reasons, the other blog monopolized most of my blogging time, so I can’t say I was too active in here, preferring to use the little time I had more for researching and reading on the above mentioned topic. I arrived thus to build myself a small library of books and papers, however the depth of the topics requires more study, time I’ll hopefully have in the near future. Step by step I’ll arrive also there!

  If I’m looking at the posts from this year, most of them were on Knowledge Representation tools, starting a set of posts on Knowledge Maps, following to post additional material during the coming year(s). The material is basic and has a low degree of abstraction, this also because is not so easy to conceptualize my ideas and anchor them in existing theories. In addition, despite the several decades of research literature on this topic (actually some important steps were made starting the 70’s), there are many ideas and attempts, but it looks like everybody’s trying in vain to come with the next big thing. Most probably the following quote describes the best the current state of art even if it refers only to AI it  could be applied by extension to the whole Web ecosystem:

    “[…] the crux for AI is that no one has been able to formulate in a reasonable way the problem of finding the good representaon, so that it can be tackled by an AI system” (Newell, 1982)

   Anyway, that’s less important as long the topic fascinates me. For the moment it’s of interest especially the learning connotation attributed to KR tools, following with time to place them in Web context. Following the same goals, more recently I started to be more active in the Facebook homonym supporting group, posting quotes, links and thoughts on related topics, attempting to build a community around the blog, get more feedback and harness the knowledge of its members. It’s a long way to go, though in everything there is a start.


   In what concerns the Web and its future versions, the future looks great even if we see it more though its potentiality. As for me, I hope I’ll have more time allocated for this blog, hopefully arriving to reach an average of 1 post every two weeks. The topics will remain the same, in a first phase attempting to write more on the various tools used for KR, until today arriving to find out about more than 60 tools used for this purpose, plus many other techniques used in various domains (IT in general, and Project Management in particular). There is more to write about Knowledge Management, which in theory is nothing more than an extension of Data Management topic, which I attempt to approach in my other blog. I’m intending to dive also in the theory of complex networks, systems, ecologies, logic, semantics, etc. As I highlighted in a similar post from the other blog, I’ll attempt to post also my notes on the respective topics - that won’t be easy, though not impossible. Let’s not go too far and take one piece at a time.

   Probably some of the readers ask themselves why I’m studying so much about knowledge when the primary intended topic for this blog was supposed to be “the knowledge on the Web”. The point is that we need to understand the various types of knowledge available, the way knowledge could be represented offline and online, and then probably we could make most of the process, and build the tools that will allow us to harness the collective knowledge and intelligence.

   I close here, hoping that the coming year (2011) will be much better than the current one. I wish to all of you, a Happy New Year!

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