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On Sustainability

A favorite quotation on sustainability is this from Tom Munnecke (personal communication):

My latest riff is to substitute “flourishing” for “sustainability.”  Aiming for sustainability is setting our sights too low, and inhibits flourishing.  Aiming for a flourishing civilization subsumes sustainability. Aiming for sustainable misery for all (“let’s all go live in yurts off the grid, using buckets for toilets”) is not the path to a flourishing civilization.

A further explanation is that this wasn’t implying that the free choice to live in a yurt was misery – it was the expectation that society in general would be forced to do so.


Helen Titchen Beeth said this:

The bottom line, though, as Geert has said already, is that Polilogues is about worldviews. The world looks different from the perspective of each person who beholds it. But when we dig down into the invisible memetic mycelium that connects people in a culture, we start to find deeper, shared worldviews, based on assumptions about the nature of life and reality that people espouse unthinkingly and often never question from birth to death. Dig down deeper still and we creep into the miraculous gossamer dimensions where psychology is not other than biology is not other than astronomy and the individual and the collective arise, inseparably, together, as two aspects of the same mystery. Perspectives all the way down.

I am playing with an intuition that polilogues might be what you get when you federate many different IBIS conversations that are about the same issue.

Knowledge Federation 2008

Just returned from Europe: Leipzig for TMRA 2008 and Dubrovnik for Knowledge Federation 2008. For traveling, United and Lufthansa were my friends, and I found a new friend, Croatia Airlines. What a treat. Well run, friendly, great airport. In fact, all the folks in Dubrovnik and, for that matter, greater baja Croatia, make the visit well worth while. Our “personal” tour guide was Suad Ahmetovic, author of the authoritative book on Dubrovnik: Curiosities of Dubrovnik. The take home message seems to be that, throughout the history of Dubrovnik, commerce trumped war. In fact, the university we used for the conference is the same university that served to “federate” scientists from all over the planet during the Cold War. Dubrovnik, itself, seems to behave as a federation resource.

I credit the great efforts of Dino Karabeg with the charm, value, and success of KF ’08. For the most part, it appeared to me that all the people of Dubrovnik are members of his extended family; he conversed with them in animated ways and always found us the best restaurants and facilities.

For the most part, KF ’08 is detailed at the program page, with links to papers and to slides, some of which are now online at slideshare. Simon Buckingham Shum used Compendium and Cohere to capture some of the dialogue entailed in understanding what knowledge federation means. That term turns out to mean different things to different people, though it’s not, or does not have to be a wicked problem to figure out a useful meaning with which to proceed; after all, federating world views is at the root of the concept for everyone engaged.

A copy of the international journal Knowledge Organization Vol. 35 (2008) No 2/No 3 was given to me by Dino during the conference. Alexander Sigel gave a masterful tutorial on knowledge organization that provoked me to start reading the journal on the flight home. What started out to be your average intercontinental flight with lots of sleep changed for me. 3 chunks of high octane chocolate coupled with Enigma piped directly into my brain through noise canceling headphones and 8 hours into an 11 hour flight, the immortal words of Danny Glover’s character in Lethal Weapon suddenly wrung true for me: “I’m getting too old for this …” 4 of the 6 journal articles heavily annotated and 17 dense pages of notes later, I resigned to watch the video portion of a Will Smith film where he plays some sort of super hero (the sound was still Enigma, Enya, and others),  and returned home.

What did we accomplish at KF ’08? I believe the answer is summed up thus: lots. That’s not a scholarly response, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. Yuzuru Tanaka conducted a Federation over the Web conference in 2005; KF ’08 adds fresh and expanded views to that work. The conference was, in my view, about bringing together a set of practitioners, each with a different world view, and teasing apart the many meanings entailed in those world views, looking for the seeds of a new federation. The group was populated rather heavily with those who have topic mapping experience, but professors Buckingham Shum and Tanaka brought something else: the tools of hypermedia discourse and a vision strongly related to user manipulations of information resources.

My view of the outcomes of KF ’08 are satisfying (for me) since I believe we have a better understanding of the range of meanings of the term “knowledge federation”, we have a better understanding of the range of issues, tools, behaviors, and ontologies entailed with that term, and plans to return with two goals in mind: to expand the universe of practitioners, and to evolve tools and pedegogy necessary to eventually eat our own dog food.

Postings at the wiki and its associated email list will help those goals along.

Making some progress

In the General Electric advertisements of old (circa mid 1950’s), the catch phrase was “progress is our most important product.” Still holds, it says here. I’m (finally!) beginning to add content to the Dynamic Knowledge Gardening paper linked on the front page. I’ve uploaded my Global HR Forum 2007 paper here

Also started adding a bibliography. There isn’t much on knowledge gardening, but what’s there is valuable.

Catching my breath

Let this serve as a place holder. I’m not dead yet.

Just returned from a venture mostly around the world. First week of October: Milton Keynes to be induced. Second week of October: Leipzig to talk about topic maps. Last two weeks of October: Seoul, South Korea, to talk about Dynamic Knowledge Gardening. Just as soon as I finish posting this, I’ll be talking about knowledge gardening again. My slides for that talk can be found here by scrolling down to the 1:45 time line.  I’ll have much more to say about all of this real soon now.

On being induced

Just returned from Milton Keynes, a great visit with Simon and his family, and being induced, at least, the first part of that proposition, into a remote PhD program. My thesis topic reads: “Hypermedia Discourse Federation”. I’ll have more to say about that soon.