Tuesday, October 03, 2006

knowledge and access

I have discovered I enjoy tackling the more philosophical questions in our clio class, mainly because of my lack of in-depth cpu knowledge. But, I did minor in philosophy as an undergrad. I mean, who doesn't like opining about the meaning of life, ethics, logic and all those neat things?

So, for this week I have a question that seems to fit these readings AND several of our past readings as well (and I'm sure some to come too): why do we (scholars/academics/etc.) attain knowledge? And why do we store it? Is it for our own benefit? Or is for the benefit of society?

I have been considering this question for a few weeks now. I'd like to think I do what I do more to educate than for any other more personal reasons. My thesis advisor at UNO always told me it was valuable and even necessary for a historian (and most any academic) to have an ego and to possess confidence. But I think he would also agree that education is the primary goal for many of us that will stay in the world of academia after we graduate.

But when I read Paul Miller's article about Interoperability, I thought the answer was obvious. Having knowledge of any type locked up in electronic vaults just seems wrong, doesn't it? So, making these systems and databases that contain these massive amounts of historical data interoperable sounds like a worthy goal to me. As Miller says, "the knowledge to be gained from mining these resources can be measured in a similar fashion to the wealth potential of steel and coal in the previous Industrial Age." (p. 4 at www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue24/interoperability).

Anyway, more on this discussion as the semester goes along...

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