Knowledge Federation Can Transform IT Development

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Changes made possible

  • Change of practice in key areas of knowledge work – opening largest markets to new technology [1]
  • Change of practice in IT development – from focus on technological components to complete socio-technical system design [2]


  1. In pages that are siblings to this one it is explained how knowledge federation may naturally lead to radical changes of practice in key areas. To appreciate the market potential, notice that the main components of knowledge work (education, science, journalism...) still operate according to patterns that have been developed based on old technology. Once those patterns have been changed, largest markets will open up for technological components that enable the new way of working.
  2. A reported result of using new technology to power old ways of working (those that have evolved based on old technology) is information glut. The largest potential benefit of new technology is to enable new ways of working. Part of Doug Engelbart legacy is that technology and corresponding practice must be designed together. In Knowledge Federation Elevator Pitch No. 9 (IT Pitch) I submitted that developing tools and neglecting the corresponding social processes is like selling automobile parts to people who have never seen an automobile and leaving it to them to assemble a vehicle. But even this is an understatement, because an automobile is an auto-mobile, a one-person transportation, while social processes used for sharing and communicating knowledge are social constructions that no single person can put together.

    By providing a venue where complete socio-technical systems can be developed (a federation of knowledge workers representing all suitable backgrounds, committed to socio-technical system development through the practgice of self-organization or bootstrapping), Knowledge Federation acts as a service to its industrial stake holders.

    Knowledge Federation also complements the work of the Topic Maps, Semantic Web, Global Sensemaking and other research communities developing knowledge-work tools and practice, by evolving suitable forms of knowledge-work organization that employ those tools and practices. System developers joining Knowledge Federation find in it an environment where components can be turned into systems, tested in real-life use and brought (or 'federated') into actual, real-life knowledge work.

See also

  • In my blog post Doug Engelbart and the Information Age I dramatize this basic shift of focus — from technological components to complete systems — by placing it into the context of the age change, from Industrial Age to Information Age. In the same blog post I give credit to Doug Engelbart for discovering 'bootstrapping' and being a forerunner of Knowledge Federation.

Back to 'Introducing Knowledge Federation'

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