About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Archaeology of Knowledge

This week I received unwelcome news AGAIN from google. For about 3 years, I have used igoogle as my homepage to keep track of email, blogs I follow, and tools for weather and translation. It is nice because I can see in a glance all internet activity I'm interested in when I sign on the the internet. However, this week a notice popped up that igoogle will go away as of November.

This happened before with google's webpage program. I was able to create my own webpage, but they discontinued the product two years ago. This got me to thinking about what happens to our electronic footprint and the knowledge we store in it.

Transparency and Storage of Knowledge

Today, archaeologists try to decipher the knowledge embedded on material objects thousands of years later. There is still records in caves and carvings, although the knowledge behind those records have been lost. The question for archaeology is can we retrieve that lost knowledge without an understanding of the context in which the records were created? While we may have lost the contexts, there are still clues that archaeologists and anthropologists can put together to try to understand the contexts in which these records of knowledge were created. These artifacts have survived the elements, destruction, civilizations, and politics.

However, advances in technology (caves to paper to electronics) have meant increasing parishibility of knowledge. Records from the middle ages are written on paper that disintegrates as time goes on. While knowledge was able to be disseminated to a wider audience (it's hard to carry a cave around), it also means that the permanence (in the form of a permanent record) decreased. Now as we come to the electronic age, knowledge creation becomes more transparent, but the storage of this is threatened. In the short term, an individual's foibles and mistakes are open to the world (i.e., facebook timeline, twitter, even blog comments). In the long run, however, as technology changes, so does access to records of knowledge. How many of you have information on floppy disks that you are unable to access now because there are no machines to read the floppies?

How will those in the Future Know who we are?

Which brings me back to my question as to what will happen to all of the knowledge we built through the electronic ages? Will those in the future know about our civilization by looking at our buildings? What other means do we have for a permanent record of our knowledge that can be passed down from generation to generation? As more knowledge is disseminated (outside of the context in which it was created) and made more universal, will be become a more closed civilization that those in the future will not be able to understand? Is it possible that those civilizations that we think we know may have had knowledge (most likely passed down through oral traditions) what will forever be lost to use, yet at the time were universal truths?

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