The Stream of Fleeting Knowledge

Watching a recording of his keynote at the NITLE Summit 2011 I was much taken with a quote John Seely Brown used about how knowledge itself is evolving. The quote is by Carla Hesse in 1997 and is taken from her chapter ‘Books in Time’ from The Future of the Book:

2011-04-07 SNAG-01Knowledge is no longer that which is contained in space, but that which passes through it, like a series of vectors, each having direction and duration yet without precise location or limit.

In the future, it seems, there will be no fixed canons of texts and no fixed epistemological boundaries between disciplines, only paths of inquiry, modes of integration, and moments of encounter.

This resonates with my own thoughts so well. For years I have been advocating our higher education teaching should be organised into physical inter-disciplinary groupings around degree programs high in student choice rather than the conventional discipline-based departments/schools/faculties. I only wonder why it has taken me so long to find others supporting this view, in this case by observing the changing nature of knowledge itself.

Geoffrey Nunberg, ed., The Future of the Book, Berkeley; University of California Press, 1997.


About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

One Response to The Stream of Fleeting Knowledge

  1. It’s a radical stance, all right. The modern university system is predicated on such curricular divisions. It’s our IP taxonomy, in a sense.

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