January 29, 2011

Actually, let me extend my comments on involving the information tribe in the blog.  I recently read two books and I’d like to put forth some extended quotations from each.

The first book, which came to my attention for some professional reasons, is: D. Tapscott and A. D. Williams, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, London: Portfolio Penguin, 2010.

The second book, which came to my attention for some personal reasons and was relatively easily accessible due to the Library of Congress Public Law 480 Program, is: R. A. Kashyap, Facets of Ancient Indian Education and Their Modern Relevance, Bangalore: Tattva Viveka Publications, 1973.

p. 344: “Many organizations take the wrong approach to exploiting the Web.  They might create a new technology or system that promises to improve the way people work.  To do so, they’ll assess what people say they need, they’ll design a system, and then they’ll implement it, doing their best to manage change.  They’ll use the same approach to create any other content—whether it’s a Web site, a new product and service, or a new way of dealing with the customer.  In each case, they’ll think of themselves as creators of content.

“This is the wrong approach.  In order to succeed in a wiki world, you cannot just think of yourself as a content provider, or as someone creating an initiative, product, or service.  Instead, become the curator, someone who creates a context or a platform that allows other people to self-organize and create things that are valuable, both for you and for them, and maybe even for the world.  If you build a Web site, don’t simply load it up with static content.  Instead, create the framework and tools for others to create their own content and build communities.”

pp. 9-10: “The propagation of culture depended on the preservation of all the great values that had been discovered throughout man’s existence in life.  It needs no reiteration that the civilisation of man from the savage state was made possible the moment he discovered methods of preservation of ideas and experience through the discovery of language.  The primary purpose of history and the primary urge behind it was nothing more than this, of preserving all those skills, physical or mental, that conduce to the progress of the species.  Naturally what was useful and valuable was preserved and what was not so useful or had been superseded by more useful knowledge was discarded.  That is the true sense of history; the preservation of what is useful for social weal.  Opinions among intellectuals might be divided on this issue but for the common man History should be a force enabling him to link what is useful and valuable in the past with his present, so that he may create a better future.  Mere preservation of facts will tend to be a burden on the people, however much we may defend them on the score that they are the results of the painstaking work of scientific historians.  Much that is in the dead past is best ploughed back to the earth so that it may rot there and provide the necessary manure for the growth of better things.  The desirable ones ought to be preserved and made to live luxuriantly.

“Hence the true function of History as Vyasa conceived it was that it should be a force for the preservation and propagation of culture.  He had laboriously undertaken the arrangement and the editing of the Vedas.  Such a task could only be for the few.  The common man needed an easier and an interesting mode of retaining all that was good in the past to guide his life in the present.  It was this that gave birth to the composition of the Mahabharata.  Here was History recorded not with an accent on the facts in their strict veracity, as scientific historians might claim, but living ideals and values treasured and transmitted.”

My interpretation of Kashyap’s claim is that the curator Krishna Dwaipayana was equal to, if not greater than, the creator Krishna Vasudeva.

I never used to like “comparing and contrasting” in English classes in school, so I’ll leave it to you to develop insight from the two quotations and to describe desiderata for a Vyasa of the wiki world.



  1. I have a question that may be of interest. As an algorithmicist(?)algorithmician (in spirit, if not in practice) I always wondered,

    What are the algorithmic insights that come from information theory ?

    This is distinct from the non-constructive nature of random coding proofs. One example may be Shannon’s water-filling theorem. Probably not Gallager’s algorithm (BP) since I am not sure there is an information theory base for it (correlation decay?).

    Any others good ones ?

  2. One of the best examples is the Lempel-Ziv universal compression algorithm, which is both provably asymptotically optimal and the basis for such commercial products as WinZip. I’ll let the tribe weigh in with further examples.

  3. […] on the curation/creation debate that has been going on, what do you think of using curation as a springboard for new creation: a kind of curation-based […]

  4. […] a business sells to consumers.  We’ve been going back and forth about content creation and curation, so I thought that was […]

  5. […] you recall, Señor Lopez Lomong, last year we had some back and forth about curation.  Courtesy of a curator I’ve been following recently, I came across […]

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