On the nature and purpose of knowledge in the digital age
Our existence within what I call the digital realm (the Internet and any associated technologies) should enable us to realize that we live in an era where the digital realm itself is enabling us to share knowledge and therefore power thus making the traditional dogmatic sources of knowledge and power irrelevant. However, we fail to see it because we refuse to redefine the nature and purpose of knowledge.
The emerging new (digital) reality reveals to us some of its defining features yet we choose to ignore them.
1.) Knowledge is not static in any way whatsoever and all our past and current attempts to create and then preserve bases of knowledge (ideologies, theories, rules, etc. through institutions, etc.) spell the end of knowledge. Knowledge must not be uncovered, controlled and distributed by an individual or by a group of individuals, nor by an institution or a group of institutions because it becomes an ideology.
Ideologies are destructive because they become the borders of future experiences thus limiting our ability to seek new experiences and therefore new knowledge. We must accept the fact that future discoveries therefore future knowledge is not affected by or contained within our current ideological boundaries which are meant to limit our experiences of life and the universe. More simply, the universe is not affected by our definitions of it. It could not care less. Thus our experiences of the universe must not be limited by our fears of the unknown components of the universe.
2.) Knowledge, if it is to be objective and if it is to encourage us to continue to expand it rather than preserve it, which is what we have been doing so far hence ongoing conflicts and wars, must be created by as many individuals as possible. It must be created by all of us. All people can and therefore must contribute to what must be a flexible and constantly flexing body of knowledge. Rather than “knowledge as an institution” or “institution as knowledge”.
I believe it is because we have failed to solve the above mentioned problems that our civilization continues to operate with two built in malfunctions:
A) We invest in what I call “static knowledge and therefore static power” (that is institutions, mainly corporations and governments) instead of investing in people. The elite, that is “our chosen leaders”, have convinced us that investing in institutions (corporations and governments) is investing in people. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is not the case because, and this should be obvious, the individuals in charge of institutions, the elite, misappropriate funds. How else could they become the elite? As a result of our leaders’ failure to invest in “the people” they disempower “the people” and reduce the quality of knowledge. Thus the entire civilization is getting further and further away from the source of its humanity, that is further and further away from itself.
This creates what I call “closed knowledge” or knowledge that is not created and governed by the random desires or by the nature and totality of the person’s (a scientist’s or an artist’s) experience. Instead, it is governed by the controlling institution’s ideologies and operating principles. Unfortunately most ideologies and operating principles are defined by their ability to create profit and not by their ability to create or expand humanity, empathy and love.
Naturally, because humanity, empathy and love are not the primary concern of knowledge, all new knowledge contains smaller and smaller number of elements that concern themselves with humanity, empathy and love and more and more elements that concern themselves with profit and efficiency.
It is why new technologies created by new knowledge and vice versa (new knowledge created by new technologies) are becoming increasingly deprived of humanity, empathy and love.
The digital realm has enabled us to share knowledge and therefore power, unfortunately our definition of knowledge and power remains unchanged therefore we remain unable to change the nature and purpose of our institutions. They are increasingly deprived of humanity, empathy and love. The elements that used to be defining features of our civilization.