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#71001 05/23/02 11:35 AM
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Just received this from my roommate - please forgive me if it's duplicated in Q&A (that's the one category that I fear - with over 4500 unread posts, I know I'd need to devote a day to catching up, and I have other goals to work on!). The synopsis: JB is spearheading a web project to document the same sorts of links that he pondered in his Connections series. It seems like the kind of thing that many people here would find interesting.

Here's the full text of the announcement from wired.com:

Altruistic programmers and word-nerds with an urge to connect the historical dots are needed to help build a website that will blend the best of old and new technology.

"Knowledge Web" is the pet project of James Burke, an Oxford-educated historian whose fascination with technology resulted in Connections, a television series that explored the strange links between technological breakthroughs and historical events.

Knowledge Web (K-Web) is intended to be the visual and virtual extension of almost three decades of Burke's attempts to show how all knowledge is somehow connected to all other knowledge.

The not-for-profit site is being built by about 100 volunteers from around the world, but more helping hands are needed.

K-Web project manager Patrick McKercher said K-Web currently could really use programmers who can work with Java, XSLT and XML. Experienced researchers and writers are also wanted. Volunteers can sign up at http://www.palmersguide.com/jamesburke/. [or the direct email is volunteers@k-web.org]

McKercher said that so far the project has been "totally grassroots" and volunteers have typically been people who just happened upon K-Web status announcements while looking for more information on Burke's books or TV shows.

"Working on this project has been wonderful. I am upgrading my computer skills to modern technology -- I come from the punch card era -- and I'm learning interesting details of history, which are also new to me," Bruce Lowenthal, an engineer and member of the K-Web technology team, said. "I'd like to see more computer people from the dot-com era start working on computer enhancements for nonprofit organizations."

"As soon as I heard about the project, I knew I wanted to be involved," added Lisa Colvin, a data architect and another member of the K-Web technology team. "The most interesting part of Burke's Connections is the serendipitous ways in which ideas, events and people are joined through history. In contrast to the paid ontology work I've done in the defense industry, Knowledge Web work is rewarding because I'm contributing to a great educational tool."

Burke said that the Web was the natural medium to use in depicting the sort of deep relationship-based history he specializes in exploring.

"I had been taking a connective approach to history ever since writing the first Connections book and television series in 1975," Burke said. "Parallel with my work, the availability of the Internet and hypertext attracted me to the wider idea of a Knowledge Web that would link everything to everything else."

Site visitors will be able to choose a guided path or blaze a trail of their own through thousands of interconnected "nodes" containing information about a technically relevant person, place, thing or event.

From each node a person will be able to travel to other nodes that are connected to the original node via some historical relationship. The system will allow the user to zoom out to see the entire constellation of nodes that relate to the original node, or zoom in and explore a topic in depth. Most of the nodes will also contain links to external resources such as multimedia files or other websites.

The site will also incorporate 2-D and 3-D visualizations, and visitors will be able to "interact" with people and objects.

McKercher and Burke both see K-Web as akin to a learning, growing brain -- information will be added to the site constantly as visitors explore it.


#71002 05/23/02 06:24 PM
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thanks for the note!

k


#71003 05/29/02 04:57 AM
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In reply to:

In contrast to the paid ontology work I've done in the defense industry


The defense/defence industry pays ontologists? So that the enemy will disappear in a puff of logic like God?

Bingley



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#71004 05/29/02 08:27 PM
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"...a Knowledge Web that would link everything to everything else"

For a fun take on the interconnectedness of all things, folks, you could do worse than visit this site: http://interconnected.org/. You could even add an entry or two!

A more serious take (although certainly not in origin, as Max will tell you ) can be found in the Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy. Yes, I'm not kidding, and Douglas Adams even had a hand in its creation! Voila: http://www.h2g2.com


P.S. Nice to meet you, FB.



#71005 05/29/02 08:36 PM
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The defense/defence industry pays ontologists? So that the enemy will disappear in a puff of logic like God?


Blinding, sir!


Well, there ain't much logic to being at war, that's for sure.
Now where did I leave my copy of Catch-22 ?


#71006 05/29/02 09:36 PM
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#71007 05/29/02 11:10 PM
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another departed ayleur plays a very prominent role

Who's that, Max?

It's a very impressive construction (although that word doesn't imply an essential ongoing aspect) - I'll try to investigate further at some point.
Thank-ee.


#71008 05/29/02 11:18 PM
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#71009 05/30/02 05:22 AM
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SHONA! Welcome back.

Bingley


Bingley

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