Joho the Blog[2b2k] Chapter 2 - Joho the Blog

[2b2k] Chapter 2

I haven’t done much blogging about the “progress” of the book I’m writing, but I have been writing it. I think. That is, I haven’t re-read the chapter I just “finished,” so I may be unwriting it tomorrow. Also, there’s been a lot of other stuff going on.

The new chapter, version #1,017 of Chapter 2, is about networked expertise. This was originally what the entire book was going to be about, but the book’s scope expanded somewhat. (If you want to squint your eyes at the book, you could still see the whole thing as being about networked expertise.) In Chapt 2, I talk about hedgehogs vs. foxes and what happens when they both get networked. Each of them is in fact a way of dealing with the overflow of knowledge by narrowing the scope of their inquiry: hedgehogs dig a small area deeply and foxes scrape a large area superficially. Network them and the network has a different strategy for dealing with the overflow of knowledge.

I also spend some time on a history of expertise. Pretty straightfoward, but then everything is if you’re willing to oversimplify it enough.

Much of the chapter goes through a sort of taxonomy of networked expertise. This gave me a lot of trouble, because, as everyone knows, taxonomies force unrighteous decisions. So, I tied the classes of networked expertise to simple topological properties of the Net. Artificial, of course, but it is better than just giving the reader a long list of undifferentiated examples. It also dropped the number of classes from six to four, eliminating two particularly troublesome ones that refused to actually exist.

I end the chapter by making a case for expertise taking on the qualities of the Net. As of now, the transition at the end is to a discussion of knowledge being about settling matters. But that means I have to rethink Chapter 3, which is what I’ve been doing this afternoon.

We shall see. Especially once a couple of days have gone by and I re-read Chapter 2. Ulp.

I should perhaps note that if I were trying to lay this book out as an argument, I would switch chapters 3 and 2, so that I first cover the basics about the nature of knowledge before going on to those who profess to have knowledge, viz experts. But I have C2 where it is because I don’t want to make the reader wade through two chapters of theory and background before getting to something that seems practical and relevant. So, I talk about many examples of networked expertise before I’ve framed knowledge. I’m pretty convinced this works better for the reader, because (if it works) it will be a sequential revelation of a deepening ground. That’s so very different from how I was taught to write in philosophy grad school.

5 Responses to “[2b2k] Chapter 2”

  1. Would you cover prediction markets?

    I got some information about these “devices” of networked or, better to say, distributed expertise “very recently, and I still marvel – how amazing they are…

  2. Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 2…

    Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 2…

  3. Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 2…

    Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 2…

  4. David – I just watched Fareed Zacaria on CNN and he interviewed Michael Lewis who has just written a book called – The Big Short – concerning the wall street meltdown of 2008. What struck me as perhaps relevant to your book was the use and interpretation of facts by wall street investors who bet against their better judgement when they embraced derivatives and credit default swaps. How could such brilliant minds have led the economy to the brink of disaster. Lewis describes many of the top investors as brilliant, yet odd characters who had access to vast amounts of factual economic data on their computer screens. The accuracy and availability of the data did not assist them in making the right decisions. What was most significant in his research was not the availability of facts, but their interpretation. Wall street investors consistently shaped the data to conform with expectations that were shaped by personal character and personal experience. One could never blame the internet for these transgressions, as the network successfully provided the decision makers with a plethora of accurate and readily available data and facts. So in the transition from facts and data to knowledge and wisdom another stage intrudes upon the process: the stage of interpretation. So much of our cultural, religious, and political wars both at home and in the world today seems to be bound up not merely with the facts, but with their interpretation. One assumption has been that with good data , with sound research and solid facts, we would be capable of making the ‘right’ decision. Yet the current financial meltdown would indicate that the interpretation of the facts can lead to faulty knowledge. And so the pyramidal paradigm which posits that wisdom arises from knowledge which arises from facts may may be inaccurate because it is incomplete. Could wisdom arise from facts in combination with say imagination, emotion, intuition, sensation, i.e., other ways of knowing. Ah, now we have hiked into the watershed of my book!

  5. Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 2…

    Joho the Blog » [2b2k] Chapter 2…


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