New Civilization News - Category: Knowledge Management    
 Fractal Intelligence and the Archetype of a Black Swan10 comments
picture22 Nov 2008 @ 15:58, by jhs. Knowledge Management
We found it feasible to teach anyone who is interested the recognition of human archetypes in less than two days using Skywork (morphogenetic access via a group of people).

For example, once able to recognize the principle which is called Ogum as an archetype of human personalities, one can typically recognize an 'Ogum Person' on a distance of a hundred meters just by its biotype and by the way the person walks. In this case a savy sales person already knows exactly what that person would like to buy and what to say and what NOT to say in order close the sale.

Once able to do that it becomes possible to learn also the recognition of an equal pattern in a different realm of manifestation without any indoctrination and even without Skywork. Unfortunately many of the few who are able to recognize human archetypes don't go the extra mile to learn it for themselves but rather listen to the few gurus in the field. In other words, they find it easier to adopt indoctrinated dogmas instead of looking for themselves. For example, in the animal realm, the Ogum principle is reflected amongst others in the phenomenon of a 'black dog'. But a dog is a living being with emotions and the capacity of learning to a certain degree. It therefore has an archetype in itself. The archetypes are further expressed in the variety of races of dogs. So, how would you recognize the specific, individual archetype of your dog by direct observation?

To approach this challenge, let us transfer the definition of 'Fractal' from mathematics & geometry to all living forms. The ability to perceive and recognize the same principles in all levels of manifestations we could call 'Fractal Intelligence'. Philosophical systems such as Ifá postulate a very limited number of base principles (16) and of base archetypes (6 archetype complexes). The ability to recognize one of those across different realms of manifestations we could call 'horizontal fractal intelligence'. The challenge of recognizing encapsulated self-repeating patterns, we could call 'vertical fractal intelligence'.


Let's define:

Fractal Intelligence:

the ability to recognize self-repeating patterns as such.

and specifically:

Horizontal Fractal Intelligence:

the ability to recognize a self-repeating pattern across parallel realms of phenomena.

Vertical Fractal Intelligence:

the ability to recognize a self-repeating pattern encapsulated in a different self-repeating pattern.

Back to the challenge of 'improving' such forms of intelligence:  More >

 Blindness and cognitive panoramas13 comments
picture 8 Dec 2007 @ 23:53, by ming. Knowledge Management
An article I had meant to comment on for some time: "Playing Go - Braille Alphabet - Cognition - Creativity - Intelligence / Choice" by Heiner Benking. I don't always understand everything Heiner says, but we're on the same wavelength.

In today's information world I feel rather blind. There is more information available than ever before, and it is more easily and more instantly accessible. But it is hard to make sense of it, other than in little pieces at a time. I feel like a bat without my sonar, flapping around in the dark, bumping into stuff.

To make sense out of what is going on, you don't just need a lot of data. You don't just need a zillion disjointed pieces of information. It helps a slight bit that I can search on information by keywords, or that I can get chronological lists, but not much.

For information to have meaning, it needs context. You need to know what it relates to, and how. You need the background, you need to know how it came about, and you need to be able to cross-relate it with other information.

We do have new ways of discovering context and supporting information in the internet world. I can more easily than before find out more about an author of some piece of text. I can more easily get to talk with them. I'm more likely than before to already know them, and have some idea of their history. But the information we're talking about is still isolated clumps of somewhat arbitrary data. Articles, blog postings, comments, e-mails. People can organize them, bookmark them, tag them, link to them, quote them, but they still fit together rather badly.

A fundamental problem is in how our language works. It consists of words strung together. That is adequate for telling stories, or for working out how to work together on common ventures, or for sharing our day to day experiences with each other. Even for discussing deep philosophical issues. But it is not very adequate for examining, understanding or sharing something that is really complex. It can be done, but it is really cumbersome.

Yes, 10s of thousands of people might work together to design and build an A380 airplane, despite that none of them could do it alone. That takes 100s of thousands of documents and diagrams and complicated communication system. And they still discover when they try to put it together that the pieces the Germans made don't at all fit into the pieces that the French made. Nobody could see it, even though it was obvious once you saw it. Because large amounts of information don't necessarily add up to seeing the whole.

And it is seeing the whole thing we have a dire need for. The rapidly more complicated and complex inter-connected globalized world. Hardly anybody can see what really is going on, so we each specialize in some little slice, which we can gather enough information about to be able to seemingly talk intelligently about.

The computerized information revolution is mostly amplifying the little part of our minds that we could call the analytical or logical mind. Left brain. You know, where we try to focus on some facts in order to deduce their logical consequences. The same part of our mind that is incapable of focusing on more than 5-7 different things at the same time.

But we're not getting much help for the bigger part of our minds, the sub-conscious, the intuitive, the wholistic, the right brain. Which probably is atrophying rapidly.

Oh, the internet world has lots of raw material one could be creative and intuitive with. But it is not particularly wired to amplify our wholistic, intuitive way of seeing things.

I get back to dimensions again. The space of information we now live in has a great many dimensions to it, many more dimensions than we've lived in before, many more degrees of freedom. Yet all our tools have only a very small number of dimensions to them, and many limits and restrictions. You move around on the net and read documents, you can get lists of them, organize them on your desktop. You use an assortment of different applications that all have their own features, limitations and peculiarities. Much of that is cool. But all of it either has too few dimensions or not access to the data I'd want to see.

I'd want to not just have access to 100 billion articles, but more direct access to the actual information sources. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic channels, digital channels, all the raw numbers. And I'd want to be able to organize and visualize that as it suits me. Again, not as a catalog of articles, but as a mostly visual information space with many dimensions. And, since I can't make sense of it all alone, I need ways of navigating in multi-dimensional information spaces shared with others, and model shared meaning within them.

I'd certainly need the semantic web along the way there, or something better. A universal way of storing information so that it can be cross-related with any other information at will.

As to how to look at it, I don't know how exactly that will look, but I do know it has to be several quantum leap paradigm shift orders of magnitude above the collaborative newspaper interface we have to the net today.

It can happen in many small steps, of course. Google Earth and iPhone multi-touch interfaces go in that direction. Simple intuitive ways of accessing vast amounts of information quickly, without it ever getting complicated. More clever inventions like that might take us somewhere.

Anyway, back to Heiner's article a bit. He references some concepts and terms that hint at some of the thinking needed. And envisioned solutions like:

A conceptual superstructure that defines and identifies topics as logical places, displays relations and connections within these topics or issues"
This concept has been introduced by H. BENKING. The following comments are BENKING's explanations, plucked from a series of papers and lectures (see bibliography)
"The cognitive panorama is a metaparadigm to counteract cyberculture's anticipated impact due to its: 1)open-ended universality, 2) loss of meaning' 3) loss of context"
It is now obvious that we risk drowning in an ocean of incoherent data which could lead us to total conceptual anarchy.
According to Benking, the proposed cognitive panorama "allows us to embody and map concepts in their context and develop common frames of reference"
Such a conceptual superstructure " helps us to locate and become aware of: 1) what we know or miss, 2) where we are and what we think, 3) where we miss, underuse or manipulate information. By avoiding a "flat" chaotic mess of data which leads to the known "lost-in space" syndrome, we actually define cognitive spaces.
Through reflection on conceptual positions, outlining and embodying situations or topics (logical places or containers) we can follow meaning into embodied context and semantic spaces, and also scrutinize abstract "realities" by exploring participatory and collaboratory approaches.
®Conceptual navigation; Convertilibilty of meanings; Ecocube; Harmonization; Knowledge map; Underconceptualization
Yeah, I'd like one of those.

I think humanity has the potential for a great evolutionary leap, or several. But just like software lags years behind the capabilities of hardware, our information structures lag years behind the actual information. I hope we somehow can catch up, so I can feel a little less blind.  More >

 FactCheck Checks Itself In...And Out20 comments
picture20 Oct 2007 @ 12:23, by jazzolog. Knowledge Management
Great doubt results in great enlightenment, small doubt results in small enlightenment, no doubt results in no enlightenment.


A hundred thousand worlds are flowers in the sky.
A single mind and body is moonlight in the water.
Once thinking ends and information stops,
At that moment there is no place for thought.


All wisdom comes out of one center, and the number of wisdom is one.


I thought it was a good thing when showed up a few years ago. I immediately subscribed to its occasional dispatches. A Karl Rove in power was reason enough. "Spin" was the middle name of this White House and, while acknowledged, journalists didn't seem to do much about it. We heard about "framing" your presentations so that particular words would hook your audience. We learned that "reality" is a hindrance to true economic marketfreedom. It seemed evident that lies repeated over and over finally sink in and become accepted as truth. What's a mother to do? FactCheck stepped up to the plate to test the veracity of political ads and politician claims. That seemed to be a help.

But I find I don't read everything FactCheck sends out, and sometimes I don't find the "facts" particularly convincing. I confess I probably am rooting for my good guys and don't like it much when FactCheck goes after them. The site is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a research group of impeccable far as I know. So I'm glad FactCheck is around, particularly during endless campaign seasons.

But last month the Washington Post published an intriguing article that said the whole strategy of creating myths depends on the assertive statement of the story. The Post implied that by emphasizing these myths FactCheck actually is defeating its own purpose. People read the myth and that's enough to keep it going no matter how the facts check out. [link]

That was enough to send FactCheck to the couch and after a month of analysis, it has emerged with a special report on its soundness of mind. Beware: they've gone all the way back to Descartes and Spinoza. There's some deep slogging here, and it's perfectly possible you may emerge with the belief Spinoza invented spin. Maybe he did. That part's hazy. Anyway, here it is~~~  More >

 Learning to Learn5 comments
picture 16 Aug 2007 @ 21:57, by ming. Knowledge Management
A post from Dave Pollard a while back. It is short, so I'll just quote the whole thing:
Nobel chemist and pioneer complexity expert Ilya Prigogine is cited by my friend Andrew Campbell as saying that nature has no secrets -- everything we want or need to know in the world is waiting to be discovered. That means it is waiting for us to be ready to learn it, which presupposes that we have:
  • Capacity to understand: That's not just a function of brain capacity, but also the ability to pay attention and to be open to new ideas and possibilities, and to imagine;
  • Need to understand: Either an urgent adaptive/survival need, or intellectual curiosity to discover; and
  • Tools to understand: The toolkit with which we were endowed by nature is comparatively poor (consider our relatively feeble eyesight, dim sense of smell, slow speed and inability to fly), but we have compensated for it with our ingenuity, especially at biomimicry -- inventing new tools that mimic the best nature provides.
We have a need to understand -- the challenges we face as a society have never been greater. And although our man-made tools are fragile and clumsy by nature's standards, they give us what we need.

What we are lacking, I think, is capacity. Despite (or perhaps because of) our large brains we are inattentive, prone to erroneous prejudgement, distrustful of our intuitions and our subconscious knowledge, and we suffer from dreadful and growing imaginative poverty. We are seemingly unable to grasp complex issues and concepts well -- we are so left-brain heavy that we over-analyze and over-simplify, and we are driven (I suspect because of our increasingly poor learning habits) to create mechanistic, complicated explanations for organic, complex phenomena. Then, when these explanations fail, we add further levels of complication, until we have thirteen-dimensional universes with vibrating strings.

We try to deduce when we should induce. We analyze when we should be synthesizing. We look for root causes when we should be looking for patterns. We try to impose order when we should let it emerge and study why it emerged as it did. We try to change and control our environments when we should change ourselves to adapt to them.

So what we should do now is build our capacity to understand -- capacity of attentiveness, openness, imagination, intuition, subconscious awareness, appreciation of complexity, ability to learn and intuit and induce and synthesize and see patterns and adapt and let come and let go. And then show others in our communities why this capacity is so important and help engender it in them, too.

Then we will be ready, together, to discover what nature has been waiting to show us and tell us. No grand unifying theory of everything -- just an understanding of how the world really works, and why our current way of living is unsustainable, unhealthy and unnatural. And what to do to make it better.
Very well said, Dave. Can't say it better, so I'll just say what it brings up for me.

Humans have an amazing opportunity, but maybe only within a brief window of time. We can think abstractly, so we can communicate, work together and develop technology. But we're also bad at thinking abstractly, and we fail to include our own shortcomings in the equation.

We have fantastic minds, but we don't have any organized body of knowledge about how they work and what we can do with them. To some degree in various self-help disciplines, but nothing that's integrated into the main things we do together. Science comes with no complementary understanding of the human mind, which is a major oversight, because science is mostly a mental activity. Groups of people perceive stuff and try to construct mental models that allow them to predict what they'll perceive in the future. That's somewhat of a ship without rudder if you don't at the same time have a concept of how you perceive, how you abstract the work into mental models, and how beliefs work.

How do we learn, how do we think, what's the sub-conscious, where does intuition come from? These ought to be very central subjects, but you don't see much more than scattered studies done on one isolated piece of the puzzle or another, which makes for interesting popular science stories about various kinds of experiments and studies. But it is somewhat overlooked that WE ourselves, and our minds are an integral and central component in what we make of the world.

I thought general semantics maybe could have caught on. It isn't everything, but it is at least a valiant attempt of including our mental processes in the practice of science, or politics, or anything else important we do as a society. It is rather dangerous to hand the controls of anything important to a human being who isn't aware that their thoughts are just over-simplified abstractions of reality. People who think that their two-dimensional cartoon mental pictures ARE reality have no business leading countries or operating heavy machinery.

And how do we learn? That ought to be a very central question, because that's largely what we do in life, and what's what we do together. We try to figure out the best ways of doing things, and how to maximize the good things we can do while we're here. Don't we? And yet learning is mostly about occupying kids for 12 or 17 years, having them read a lot of books, and hoping they somehow get something out of that. All due respect to the teachers of the world, but it would make sense if somebody actually put together and applied the very best ways we can find of actually learning.

We ought to be feeling the need already, yes. There are lots of things that aren't working well. We ought to be motivated to do better.

Do we have the tools and the capacity? Not well enough. I suppose we can say that the tools would be the external levers of learning, and capacity would be the internal. We both need to organize some things in the outside world so as to facilitate learning. And we need to organize our internal world so as to actually be learning. As to both, we're somewhat in the stone age. We learn stuff, but very haphazardly.

The challenge is how to effectively deal with complexity, when we mostly are using a part of our mind that is lousy at doing so.

It's the old story of a human being able to pay attention to just 5-7 things at the same time. You might understand a model of a problem or situation if it has 2-3 dimensions to it, but not more. If presented with anything that has more dimensions or variables, you'd tend to default to some favorite cartoon belief that simplifies things into just a few variables. We make as if we're dealing with big, important, complex scenarios, but we do it with those minds that can only think a handful of things at a time. There's a big disconnect.

I think we're actually a lot better wired than we readily think. Your sub-conscious mind deals with millions of variables quite well. Your intuition does great with complexity. You probably do have the equipment you need to operate at a much higher level. But it isn't necessarily going to work if you leave your 5-7 bit mind in charge.

Paying attention, being open, imagining, yes, I'm sure that's part of the puzzle. But those are things you can't put in a test tube and measure, so we have to make some kind of quantum leap over the need to do so. We need to learn how to perceive, how to learn, how to know, how to be conscious of what we know and what we don't know.  More >

 It is Finished.27 comments
2 May 2007 @ 00:58, by swanny. Knowledge Management
May 1, 2007

I guess in the end there is only this sad truth...
that we, humanity, the human race, were never really a worthy
or fit species for such wonderous and beautious place
such as this Earth.

It is over.

Alfred G. Jonas  More >

 Das SimpelDeutsch Experiment6 comments
picture9 Jun 2006 @ 22:44, by jhs. Knowledge Management
I started an experiment, called "SimpelDeutsch".

The idea originally came from Wikipedia's Simple English section. Why should there be Simple English but not also Simple Deutsch?, I asked myself.

There was the Basic English project. Wikipedia sez:

"Basic English is a constructed language with a small number of words created by Charles Kay Ogden and described in his book Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar (1930). The language is based on a simplified version of English.
Ogden said that it would take seven years to learn English, seven months for Esperanto, and seven weeks for Basic English, comparable with Ido. Thus Basic English is used by companies who need to make complex books for international use, and by language schools that need to give people some knowledge of English in a short time."

A similar approach should be possible for SimpelDeutsch.

In addition, there is another particularity that didn't exist in 1930 at the time of Ogden: the global exchange of concepts promoted a set of words practically identical in many languages. Those words don't even need a translation.

In the SimpelDeutsch project, if one starts reading beginning from the first Blog entry (Note, that a BLOG begins at its end!), one should be able to understand basic German (in a written form) in a very short time.

A main concept of SimpelDeutsch is that it is NOT a constructed language. I'll leave it up to the readers/commentators to determine the basic set of words to be used. The time necessary to achieve a basic dictionary shall be an interesting part of the experiment.

I am testing an online database (and Wiki) for the purposes of crossreferencing and invite all of you to participate in your particular language once it's open for business!

Hope to see many of you playing with me (and language) at [link] !!!  More >

 Negative Information6 comments
11 Aug 2005 @ 13:00, by ming. Knowledge Management
Scientists have apparently figured out that information can be negative. Article here and some news items here or here.
What could negative information possibly mean? In short, after I send you negative information, you will know less. Such strange situations can occur because what it means to know something is very different in the quantum world. In the quantum world, we can know too much, and it is in these situations where one finds negative information. Negative information turns out to be precisely the right amount to cancel the fact that we know too much.

Now, if I didn't know anything else, I might guess that it would be something like this: If somebody had information about my name as "Fxlemyminxg Fxunzch" and I told them to take away the x, y and z's, they'd have the real name. But that's not really what they mean. They don't mean either that it is when people pass around false or confusing information. It is more like this:

Particles in a quantum state are uncertain. If they're isolated from everything else, one doesn't really know anything about them. They have to be observed somehow. So, if you have a quantum particle, and I have the knowledge of its state, then we have some information. We could ask somebody else to come and verify it. But if I give that knowledge to you, and forget about it, assuming that would be possible, then you would have both the thing and the information about it, and it is no longer as certain. Because you could decide that it is just about anything, and nobody could be quite sure what it is. So, there's less information.

Another piece of the idea is quantum entanglement. Two particles might be entangled, even though they're in different places. And then they can know things about each other without having to transfer any pieces of information. So, you can sort of have a credit, so you'll able to know stuff in the future, without any information having to be transferred. Information can just suddenly be there, and to make the information accounting add up, that is as if negative information had been transferred.

I can't say I entirely get that, but, as usual, quantum mechanics provide plenty of material for useful metaphors for daily life.

For us to know something with some certainty, we normally need to be separated from the process by which the object of attention is generated. I can be a knowledgable stamp collector if there's a limited number of agencies that can issue stamps, which can be listed in a book, and if it is kind of difficult to manufacture stamps. If anybody could make the stamps themselves, and nobody could see the difference, then my knowledge of the world's stamps would probably become less. Sufficiently high quality color copiers and printers might subtract information, because I might no longer know what is original and what isn't. A nano replicator would subtract information, because a lot of people suddenly wouldn't be sure what stuff really is, because anybody could make it or change it. Is it a real Van Gogh, or a $5 nano-generated replica? I suddenly don't know.

Might be a solution to information overload. There are potential technologies that suddenly, disruptively, would make it a whole lot less meaningful to keep track of certain kinds of information.  More >

 Tagwebs, Flickr, and the Human Brain8 comments
picture 4 Feb 2005 @ 16:15, by ming. Knowledge Management
Jakob Lodwick has an epiphany on tagging and Flickr and how the human brain works. OK, I'm not sure it really says anything new, but he explains, for dummies, what it is to tag your pictures, and why that's a really good thing, which just might tweak greater intelligence out of the net.

Tagging is basically just that you can assign a category or keyword of some kind to some piece of data, like a picture. That is an example of metadata. That is, it isn't the thing itself, but it is something you say about it. Or which somebody else comes along later and says about it. And the cool thing is that if that is done in a reasonably standard way, all sorts of software and search engines can come along later and show a lot of previously hard-to-find connections, and they can group things together for you that have similar tags.

That would be the Semantic Web. I.e. that instead of just a bunch of free-form text and pictures on millions of webpages, we tag things in more finegrained detail as to what it is. This is a name, this is a country, this is a movie, this is a quote, etc. If that was done with all the data on the net, amazing new things will be possible. But the trouble is that it is a lot of work, and not really much fun, to go over existing texts and add a lot of tags saying what it is. And then the trouble is how we agree on what the proper category structure is. If you call it "city" and I call it "town" and French people call it "ville", how can we group it together well enough. Those are hard problems that aren't sufficiently solved. In part because human language is fuzzy, and we all have different mind maps of how things should be organized ina perfect world. So, the semantic web hasn't really happened, and any examples of it tend to be kind of pathetic and not really useful.

So, the tag thing, even though it is the same idea, sort of relaxes the tension and opens it up for instant use. I.e. you don't worry about the perfect ontology of categories. You just tag thing you care about, with whatever tags make sense for you. And smart programs come along later and try to make useful applications based on the tags they find.

Hm, I've gotta make some of those.  More >

 NO MAGIC3 comments
7 Aug 2004 @ 22:57, by skookum. Knowledge Management
No Magic

I heard it muttered that there is no magic in the world
The slamming doors of imagination closed in
And they stood there alone in the cold.  More >

 The little book on how to do anything1 comment
picture 2 Aug 2004 @ 09:50, by ming. Knowledge Management
"dewf" mentions in a comment a concept I've often thought about.
I've always wanted to see websites which have a hierachical introduction to topics. This is done to some extent now with hyperlinks, but generally you get a table of contents and then the details. Books try to do this to some extent, but a lot of times, they are more linear than hierarchical. Funny that we learn mathematics and chemistry and such from the bottom-up, instead of top-down.

What I'm thinking is that a how-to or informative book should start with one paragraph which tries to explain the whole gist, then maybe a 1 page explanation of the very same thing, then a 10 page explanation.
Personally, I much prefer to learn that way. Give me a paragraph first that gives the core ideas. Then I know the key importances, and I'll have a mental framework that further details can fit into. But it is usually not how learning materials are presented. So often you have to wade through hundreds of pages before you get the simplicity, if you even ever find it. And so often you'll just keep it to yourself, once you've found it, as a reward for working hard at discovering it.

Several times I've had to install a payment gateway between a shopping cart program and a credit card processor. The first one was CyberCash. They gave you 20MB of information to explain how to do it. Many hundreds of pages, in dozens of files. Most people said at the time that it on the average took a month to install it. But, really, what I ended up with after digesting it was 5 lines of PHP code that did the trick. It was really very simple, and I could have done it in 5 minutes, but the simplicity was a secret, so it took a lot of work.

The way you sometimes get it is by running into somebody who's a master in a certain subject, and after dinner, when you'e built up a bit of trust between you, he might casually share one of the core simplicities of his subject. Something that suddenly makes it simple, rather than complicated, for you. Something that would have made all the difference if you had known it earlier.

Not just any simple one-paragraph piece of information will do. The key is that it needs to be action oriented. It needs to enable you to do something. Actually enable you as much as possible with the smallest piece of information possible. Maximum knowledge exchange in the smallest unit.

Let's say I wanted to learn to speak Esperanto. Random House's dictionary will give me a good one-paragraph definition of what it is:
an artificial language invented in 1887 for international use, based on word roots common to the major European languages.
Well, that's good. Tells me what it is. If somebody mentions it, I know that it isn't a fruit or anything, and I can pretend I know about it. But it tells me zero about how to actually do it. OK, in this case it is unusually simple, so there actually are people who've provided what I'm asking for. The sixteen simple rules of Esperanto. There it is in one page. If we put it in one paragraph, it might be:
Nouns all end in -o in singular and -oj for plural. Add an -n if it is the object. La is the definite article. Adjectives end in -a, adverbs in -e. Personal pronouns: mi, vi, li, ŝi, ĝi, si, ni, vi, ili, oni, meaning, I, you, he, she, it, oneself, we, you, they, they/one/people. Verbs have these endings: -as; past time, -is; future time, -os; conditional mood, -us; command mood, -u; infinitive mood, -i. Use the word ne to make things negative. You can put the words in the order that suits you. Everything is pronounced at written. Accent always on second-to-last syllable.
And that's about it. You'd need some vocabulary, obviously, but there's the majority of the grammar rules.

OK, French would be harder. But I'd kind of like to start with some kind of inventory. Like:
There are 9 different types of words: nom, déterminant, adfectif qualicatif, verbe, pronom, préposition, adverbe, conjonction de coordination, interjection. Verbs are conjugated in 3 main groups, for infinitives ending in -er, -ir, -re. There are 6 different modes of verbes: indicatif, subjonctif, imperatif, conditionnel, infinitif, participe. 19 different tenses. The language has 18 consonant sounds, 16 vowel sounds, and 3 semi-vowels.
OK, takes work, and doesn't really enable you to do it, but it gives some kind of framework. Some expert could do a good job there. But I'd be hard pressed to find this kind of overview anywhere. Like one paragraph overviews of all languages.

Simple how-to information would be useful in any field, of course. But there are various fields where it maybe is more readily available, or where the need for it is more recognized. A Survival Manual is obvious. You go into the wilderness, and you can manage carrying one book that might tell you how to get out of various situations you'll run into. How to find water, how to navigate, how to know which mushrooms you can eat.

Obviously in home improvement. There will be books with nice color diagrams and step-by-step instructions for how to do your own plumbing or how to put up drywalls.

Look at this site, that I incidentally did the database for: Bagelhole, collecting low-tech sustainability how-to's.

Now, then, what would be involved in making a platform for gathering how-to's from any field, organized from simple and short towards gradually longer and more detailed versions? Kind of like wikipedia, except for the multiple levels, and the focus on enabling action-oriented how-to information.

Simple enough to make a site organized like that. But would it sort itself out simply by being a wiki that people could edit? Or does it take something more complex to be able to select the best simplicities?

A problem is of course that not everybody will agree on what the one-paragraph version should be. So maybe alternatives need to compete and be rated. Maybe there needs to be different versions depending on what one is really trying to do with the subject.

Mainly it all needs to be available in a unified structure.

How does one make metal? How does one find water? I'm sure the information is on the web. But where's the one-paragraph summary?

When people's cars break down while driving, most of them get out and open the hood and poke around. What do they actually do, and what is the best practice for actually fixing something? I don't know, I'm a software guy. I'd like the one-paragraph or one-page version, please.

If it were a book, I'd want the book that tells me briefly how to do just about anything. It is probably better suited to be a website, as I'd want to drill down into further detail if the first paragraph doesn't do it for you. But I'd like those first paragraphs to be good enough that it would be meaningful to carry them all around with me. Or to look them up via my cellphone.  More >

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