Monday, October 31, 2005

Realms of Knowledge

This isn't new. It's interesting to me, and I came up with it on my own, but I'm 100% sure that someone had to have thought of this before me. Any pointers to some authoritative research on this would be greatly appreciated.

Working in a knowledge environment is a microcosm of the way information appears to flow throughout the world.

The smallest bit in the realm of knowledge is the single human domain of perception. Thoughts are generated constantly in this domain, most of which are discarded. Occasionally a thought of some redeeming value bubbles up, forming a packet of information that is deemed worthy of communicating to another individual.

The vast majority of that which is communicated from one human domain of perception to another is discarded. Occasionally an idea has sufficient value that it takes on a life outside of any individual human domain of perception. At this point, the idea becomes "group knowledge" or "tribal knowledge".

Tribal knowledge usually only works for a small subset of any population. Outside of that subset, the knowledge has little or no value. However, on occasion tribal knowledge leads to innovations that help entire populations. This slowly becomes global knowledge within a certain discipline. A good expample would be of how an individual at one time found a wonderfully effective method of dying clothes. This person spread that method throughout their tribe. Eventually the information proved valuable to the textile industry, and thus became global knowledge within the textile industry.

Every once in a while, discipline based global knowledge escapes the confines of the given discipline and becomes "common knowledge". An example of this would be Einstein's famous "E=MC^2" equation. Not everyone knows what it does or means, but it is "common knowledge".

From the pool of common knowledge comes "Universal Knowledge". Not all common knowledge becomes universal. However, when something attains universal knowledge status, it can reasonably be expected that anyone in the world would be aware of that knowledge. An example of this seems to be strikingly difficult to nail down, as most examples of universal knowledge seem to be basic stuff that one can observe on their own (eating, sleeping, sun rising, etc). The universal knowledge I speak of here would have been generated at one time from a singular consciousness.

Beyond universal knowledge seems to be "true universal knowledge". A piece of information that has bubbled up from a singular conscience, that every human being is guaranteed to know, would be considered "true universal knowledge". I suspect that such a thing does not exist.