What if the web was organized by communities of interests?
In the beginning, there was the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. More recently, this tree has inspired a philosophy advocated in particular by the French mathematician and sociologist Michel Authier (author of “Trees of Knowledge”), the philosopher Pierre Levy (author of “Collective Intelligence”) and Michel Serres. Wikipedia summarizes this school of philosophy in the following postulates:
“*Postulate 1: “Everybody knows”. All humans know something, by virtue of having lived. Knowledge is a dimension of being, singular to each individual. This truth restores each person’s dignity
*Postulate 2: “Nobody knows”. Humans must recognize the impossibility of absolute and total knowledge; what’s more, knowledge being unstable and inalterable, this invites a fundamental humility and respect towards others. Not one person can possess the entirety of all knowledge.
*Postulate 3: “I don’t know, but someone else does”, humanity contains all knowledge: each being brings his/her unique understanding to the table, but only the entirety of humanity can bring understanding in all its diversity.
Trees of knowledge are a new way to spot knowledge and competences in a community. They bring a concrete solution to the problem that the 18th century French philosopher Nicolas de Condorcet pondered: how to represent a general opinion starting from various individual ones?
Trees of knowledge oppose the acquisition of competences to spatial organization. In this system, recognition is key: being recognized by others, each individual increases his implication in relationship to those surrounding him. This recognition is the essential part of sociality: trees of knowledge favor sharing over a simple exchange.”
This philosophy is shared by an innovative French start-up called Pearltrees. Pearltrees sees the web not as a place where knowledge is put in hierarchies by a search engine, like Google, but as an area that can be organized in subjective logical chains that are shared and exchanged with a simple click. With Pearltrees you can not only organize your web in the form of thematic trees (linked “pearl dossiers”), but you can also share your trees with your friends, and “borrow” (by copy-paste) a friend’s pearl, branch or tree of knowledge. To understand how Pearltrees work, please see the below video. To understand the philosophy behind Pearltreees, check out the interview that President Patrice Lamothe gave to the Travelling Geeks.
If for the first generation of Internet, Google was the best way to view data, we can imagine that for the web 2.0, Pearltrees is a better-adapted way to process information, by favoring a qualitative organization over a quantitative listing of content and data. What if knowledge was simply a forest of pearls?