ThoughtStorms Wiki

Over on PageNumbersInMyNotebook RonChrisley asks :

what I am most interested in concerning PersonalKnowledgeManagement is how all this note-booking, blogging, emailing, documenting, PDAing, wikiing, etc is actually used. What's it all for? I suppose there are several answers:

  • They aren't for anything else at all; they are ends in themselves
  • They are for producing a personal, private mental state or conscious experience (understanding, enlightenment, pleasure, personality improvement, etc) - similar to the above.
  • They are for producing, e.g., a report, journal paper, magazine/newspaper article, book, etc. Which just shifts the question to: what are those for?
  • They are for assistance in (non-lingustic) action: building a better mousetrap, robot, software, etc.
  • The process itself of jotting notes down, having to reflect on the ideas enough to slot them into some PersonalKnowledgeManagement framework, etc. has some advantage, such as deepening one's understanding, prompting new thoughts/ideas, increasing retention/recall/mnemonics, etc. Again, the question is shifted to: why are these things important?
  • One can develop strategies for PersonalKnowledgeManagement and share/sell them to others, who might have their own reasons for using them.

(While writing this, I cam up with some other ThoughtStorms related ideas, which raises an issue: Should I just put these ideas in with the entry I'm revising, or should I navigate away, and try to find a place to slot these ideas in? What's a good way to do that? Of course, Phil probably has a good idea of the range of topics available, but should all wiki users be forced to study the global structure of the wiki in order to know where to post? And since the wiki is constantly changing, one will have to do this frequently. Perhaps the wiki should be made more modular/hierarchical? Or should we just tolerate off topic "posts", such as the following?)

(Backlink suggestion moved to Ron's page)


To answer the first question. I think all of the above, for some people, some of the time.

But to push my own personal obsession, I have a chemistry metaphor for the writing / publishing / learning. That is, that the combining of ideas from texts is like chemical reactions. If you grind your materials down to a finer granularity, they they will react faster. So the purpose of a lot of micro-content management tools is to accelerate the learning process by allowing ideas to be expressed at a finer granularity (See also BangTheRocksTogether, OnGranularity, contrast InDefenceOfLongSpecificDocuments)

Secondly, when the tools are social in some way, it allows us to combine different view-points from different people more quickly. As I'm still a CriticalRationalist who believes in the ValueOfArgument I think this adds a kind of "heat" to the process, which also accelerates the reactions and our learning.

Other value specifically from Wiki. WikiIsPayingOff, WikiPoweredArgument, TheJoyOfMultitexturality

To answer the second question. ThoughtStorms is a PersonalWiki. One way I understand that, is that just as a weblog is a personal voice / statement, so a personal-wiki is a personal way of organizing ideas and their connections. Because WikiNature is collaborative writing, that doesn't mean only one person does the writing, or there is only one opinion represented, but it means something like "the organization of the wiki reflects my personal, evolving, world-view". This is different from Wikipedia or the original WardsWiki or a community like MeatBall which have may have more of a responsibility to choose a taxonomy / classification system which is commonly understood or assented.

What follows from this is that I do indeed have more responsibility than most people to move stuff around to places where I think it fits. Although you are perfectly free (and encouraged) to improve the organization where you see fit. If you leave something around somewhere else, I can pick it up and put it somewhere that seems approapriate. We can create a RonChrisley/DropBox for stuff which you want to dump without thinking where to put it. (Compare also the discussion on WeblogsAndWiki about the advantages of weblogs.)

There are a couple of other relevant points about what I want from ThoughtStorms.

  • to look for / explore analogies between fields : music / ComputerScience / urbanism / politics / economics / internet culture. I want to be able to take an idea like LowRoad from HowBuildingsLearn and apply it to music etc. So ThoughtStorms will never fall into neat hierarchies. (See also ADocumentIsNotATree)
  • to explore the dynamics of growing and ReFactoring a HyperText. So things will move around. But in fact the main strategy is to create new themes or index pages like OnAbstraction or OnHierarchy which gather links to relevant pages. You are extremely welcome / encouraged to create new theme pages which group together other pages you think are relevant.