Sunday, 25 September 2011

Co-founder uses Knowledge Atlas as his research and outline tool on the Web

We live in a world with complex issues and complex solutions. This fact often makes it difficult to learn efficiently about any given topic on the Web, especially a subject you are unfamiliar with.

An easy subject may just require a few searches and couple of articles. But a lot more effort is required on more complex issues, often taking several hours of search and reading.

I use the Knowledge Atlas as my primary research tool on the Web. This has been invaluable for the community activism that my wife Caroline and I take part in. We volunteer our time to help preserve the largest urban forest in Canada, The UNB Woodlot, here in Fredericton on the east coast of Canada.

To write our messaging, we needed to gain a good working knowledge of concepts that range from ‘stormwater management’, ‘watershed-based source water protection’, ‘municipal land use zoning’, ‘transition cities’, and “urban wetlands’. Not only are they complex issues but they are also inter-related.

I use the Knowledge Atlas because it is a great tool to organize your thoughts. You can start right away by putting in scattered concepts and ideas, and worry about organizing them and connecting them together in later editing sessions, i.e. a contributor does not have to write out complete storylines or trees in one session.

Here’s an example of how I used the Knowledge Atlas to research the above and organize our messaging:

1. Start building “type-of” Trees, one each for ‘urban infrastructure’, ‘permeable paving surfaces’, ‘stormwater management’, ‘soil’,wetlands’, etc.

2. Start building storyline for my own authored article entitled “The Value of Urban Wetlands – Priceless”

3. Start building storylines that can be authored by the whole KA community, including the following:

- “"Capture Rain Where It Falls" - North American Cities using Green Stormwater Infrastructure”

- “Ecoservices that Nature Provides for Free: Why Not Include Them in the Cost of Development?”

- “The Secret Life of Soil: The Soil Food Web”

- “Making our Cities More Resilient: Preparing for Climate Change”

4. Start adding Tree concepts as anchors to the Storylines. This will connect together related Trees and connect together related Storylines.

The above editing was spread out over several weeks but it was very low stress; the whole exercise happened easily/organically and it did not require a great deal of planning or the need to write a linear article. It is more like building a "web" of concepts and ideas! And the Knowledge Atlas made it easy to attach Web references/links to these storylines and trees.

When we organize information visually, like a map, the uncharted areas quickly become apparent. As more related information is provided, a greater understanding takes form. Similar to a map, the contexts and relationships reveal themselves through pattern recognition. This is the Knowledge Atlas.

10 things we like about the Knowledge Atlas

1. Building 'knowledge maps' is fun and addictive. And the more you create, the more you learn and discover!

2. Contributors create ‘Storylines’ which are like “suggested routes” through a body of knowledge. These storylines help other users to ‘connect the dots’ in their own knowledge journeys on the Web. Storylines can be inter-connected with the Trees, creating a multi-dimensional learning and discovery tool.

3. Contributors of content can become owners and members of the co-op.
You can help us build a map of human knowledge with the world’s first social media co-operative!

4. Half of the Co-op’s profits are donated to organizations you help select.
You can highlight on your Member Profile page which of the 10 categories and organizations that you support.

5. Since information is in context, your mind can move more quickly. At a glance, you can quickly see your topic of interest from differing viewpoints and perspectives, and learn how related ideas and concepts fit together. Content is not controlled by “filter bubbles” on your search engine or news site, or other editorial bias.

6. The Knowledge Atlas is complementary to existing search and reference websites.
Concepts in the Trees and Storylines are clickable, allowing you to see immediate search results in Google, Wikipedia, and Google Scholar.

7. Knowledge Atlas is information you can trace and trust. No one can post anonymously, and all Contributors must use real names and be respectful.

8. The default setting for Storylines is the Open Community, but you can choose to write your own storyline.
You can also invite friends, research associates, community groups, or your whole social network to edit the articles you contribute.

9. People just like you are already using Knowledge Atlas as a tool for creating solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. As individuals, researchers, and community groups map out issues important to them, they are also adding links to reference material, creating a “fabric on the Web’.

10. Knowledge Atlas will be a trusted advertising platform - for socially-responsible companies.
All of the Co-op’s investors and advertisers will be co-operatives, who will have modest but prominent advertising space on our web pages.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Knowledge Atlas, a personal social narrative in the context of all that humanity knows

My name is Bart, a.k.a Andrew Haines.  I am one of the founders of the Knowledge Atlas Co-op and I am excited that the launch of this cooperative is happening so close to the 2012 International Year of the Co-op. I think the Atlas has a unique position amongst other social narrative platforms.
Facebook is "who I am" and Twitter  is "what I am doing";
Knowledge Atlas is "what I know, in the context of all that humanity understands"
Combining the knowledge of the Co-op in the context of a map will help others on the internet, and also provide a global platform for co-operative advertising. To have people learn about co-operatives, while they are learning cooperatively, will be fantastic. To create a collaborative social media platform which is owned by the people that create it, will be a game changer.