Throughout the ages, Man has bettered himself by sharing accumulated empiric knowledge. But why is sharing knowledge so important?
From information to knowledge
It is true that knowledge is the accumulation of information, but for information to translate to knowledge, It needs to be cohesive and structured.
Imparting knowledge to others is not just about sharing lists of facts. For this purpose, we developed means of education, creating the roles of teacher and pupil. Although the educational system we know today has only been implemented for the general population since the Enlightenment movement, it has existed in a primitive form for a select few since the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Knowledge is power, and since times immemorial access to knowledge has meant a concentration of power. Today, access to knowledge is widespread and most people have access to a solid and strong education, thus empowering us to build a better society.
Keeping this power locked has given us the darkest period of our collective History in the western World, the Middle Ages. Whomever controlled the written word, and therefore the knowledge it held, controlled the population. And when left in ignorance, society did not advance. That is why this is considered a period of great stagnation.
Why share knowledge
The invention of the printing press in c.1440 made information sharing widespread throughout the World increasing and speeding up the advances in technology, art and philosophy that revolutionised contemporary society.
Later, with the power of the steam machine, the industrial revolution made it necessary for the factory workers to be instructed for the manufacturing of goods in large scale, making way for a standardised educational model to educate the masses. This mass education campaign led to an increase in alphabetization thus granting access to the accumulated knowledge printed in books and increasing the exchange of new ideas and inventions. One of the fruits of this was the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is in my view, the best example of how education and knowledge sharing can work to enable a society to break free of harmful prejudices.
Although we came a long way, there was still a gap in the way information was spread.
The two main channels for sharing information are through speech and writing. Using both generates the best results in conveying the message, but only in recent History have we managed to use them in perfect harmony through the recent medium of the Video.
While the written word has been chosen as the preferred method of preserving collective History, it is still not accessible to everyone in the World. On the other hand, the spoken word is the more natural method of sharing information but is dependent on the voice, expressiveness and personal knowledge of the speaker.
The Video format made it possible to reach everyone in a natural way, broadcasting it through radio waves for the TV, later, with consistency on magnetic tape recording, and now to the whole world through fiber optics on the Internet.
Today, we have a perfect storm with a means of communication which is natural, consistent, widespread and long lasting. It is now our job to capitalize on this marvelous opportunity.
The World we inherited and live in today, was - and is - shaped by the knowledge that was shared and accumulated throughout our evolution as a species. Building on the work of others makes us capable of achieving the previously impossible and if that was true before, in this information age, it is even more. So share the knowledge that you hold and help create a better future for all Humankind.
Nikolaos Lazaridis, Centre for Research in Information Management, UK, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology 2010 Ancient History Encyclopedia - Mesopotamia
Wikipedia - Education History
Wikipedia - Printing Press
Universal Declaration of Human Rights - UN
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