Can we go beyond Gutenberg?

All human civilizations share a common goal: the pursuit of knowledge. Most knowledge of the world has its roots in experience – recall Newton’s apple and Archimedes’ bathtub – and is not captured by current knowledge tools. Major advances in civilization have originated from the need to capture, produce, communicate, store, and disseminate the knowledge resulting from human sensory experiences. In our society, literacy is usually considered same as knowledge. Text is visual representation of a subset of sounds created using human vocal chord. Since this was the only technology to make human experience permanent, text has been popular for more than 5000 years, and became dominant after Gutenberg invented moveable print. Text based knowledge revolutionized human society and is behind much progress that we have seen. The WWW is dominated by text. Even photos and videos on WWW are organized and retrieved using tags and keywords. Most experts, including those involved in leading companies like Flickr (of Yahoo) and YouTube (of Google) know the limitations of tags in dealing with other media very well.

Progress in technology has now made it equally easy, or even easier, to capture, store, and disseminate knowledge in audio, photos, and video forms. But, our very limited understanding of the nature of human sensory experiences, has not yet allowed us to deal with non-textual knowledge effectively. Despite realizing the importance of experience, it was not possible to adopt a scientific approach to it due to lack of technology and formalisms. In the recent past, observation of experience in human brain using fMRI and similar approaches and better understanding of mind-body problem by cognitive scientists suggests that time is right to adopt a scientific approach to understand experience and develop formal and computational models for it to make further progress in understanding it and applying it. Another major transformative change in the last decade is the emergence of the Web of Knowledge and its active role in the creation and utilization of knowledge. The Web has demonstrated the power of exploring connections across objects, concepts, disciplines, space and time. By developing formal data and logical models for harnessing knowledge, similar and complementary to textual knowledge, from experiences of people collected using diverse sensing devices ranging from astronomical sensors to phone cameras, we can finally progress beyond Gutenberg Legacy.

3 thoughts on “Can we go beyond Gutenberg?

  1. Term paper writing

    I will completely agree with you here “The Web has demonstrated the power of exploring connections across objects, concepts, disciplines, space and time. By developing formal data and logical models for harnessing” In my opinion your this thinking is absolutely correct.

    Keep writing like this.

  2. Ajit Kale

    We needed thousands of years to evolve to a level where we have text based word symbols for our perceptions. For e.g. when we say ‘CHAIR’ we know what is perceived by that word. Now we need to evelve to a more complex brain perception based system. May be it is based on images may be on brain wave patterns … I don’t know that yet. But the point is you have a very interesting topic here that we have a need to go beyond Gutenberg.

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