World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia
The whole human memory can be, and probably in a short time will be, made accessible to every individual. And what is also of very great importance in this uncertain world where destruction becomes continually more frequent and unpredictable, is this, that photography affords now every facility for multiplying duplicates of this – which we may call? – this new all-human cerebrum. It need not be concentrated in any one single place. It need not be vulnerable as a human head or a human heart is vulnerable. It can be reproduced exactly and fully, in Peru, China, Iceland, Central Africa, or wherever else seems to afford an insurance against danger and interruption. It can have at once, the concentration of a craniate animal and the diffused vitality of an amoeba.
Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose. If the aggregate time spent in writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling.
Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can be in only one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome. Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path. The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association.
Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory.
The intellectual seeds of the World Wide Web were disseminated by Eugene Garfield with these early Current Contents essays. Written in 1964, Garfield's Towards the World Brain remembers the vision of H.G. Wells and calls for a renewed effort to build the World Brain for science.
World information centers are badly needed. No university could operate effectively without library facilities, and world-wide multidisciplinary research cannot be conducted efficiently without convenient access to broad-based information sources. The idea of a World Brain is a general concept towards which we seem to be moving. As things stand at present, the situation in scientific information is quite chaotic.
Phi Beta Iota: Dr. Eugene Garfield creates the Social Science Citation Index and the Science Citation Index. China and other nations have copied the idea, but until the United Nations or the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) decide to get serious about global information as a source of wealth, we do not expect the real World Brain to evolve further. Dr. Garfield attended the first December 1992 conference on “National Security & National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions.” The Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) was one of the six sources used by Robert Steele in the Aspin-Brown Commission benchmark exercise on Burundi, identifying overnight the top 100 scholars in the world on Burundi-Ruwanda.
1980 and still going…
Howard Rheingold inherited the Whole Earth Review from Stewart Brand, who has morphed it from the Co-Evolution Quarterly of the 1970's, and also brought the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (WELL) into fulsome existence. He then wrote the four key books that define the intelligent distributed virtual community armed with tools for thinking: Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology (1986, 2000); The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (1992, 2000); Virtual Reality: The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds – and How It Promises to Transform Society (1992); and
Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution (2003).
1993 and still going…
G. Parker Rossman published The Emerging Worldwide Electronic University a published book, was followed by a multi-volume THE FUTURE OF HIGHER (LIFELONG) EDUCATION:For All Worldwide, A Holistic View that is online in English and Chinese, and is a living collection. He was a founding member of the World Brain discussion group, and instrumental in ensuring that the modern Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) movement migrated away from helping US spies to do better with public sources, and toward, instead, a true form of Multinational Engagement in which we sought to create an informal World Brain that connected all human minds with all information in all languages–it was not until C. K. Prahalad and Yochai Benkler that we realize this was the sole means of creating a prosperous world at peace by empowering the five billion poor with connectivity and online access to knowledge “one cell call at a time.”
Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century
2003 and still going
Tom Atlee has spent a lifetime in the peace and deliberative dialog movement. He first became an internationally-known figure with his publication in 2003 of The Tao of Democracy–Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
. That book, and his presentation to the multinational Open Source Intelligence audience in 2004, was then and remains now a major factor in the cultural shift of the movement away from helping spies do better with open sources, and toward creating the World Brain for all.
More recently, at the tail end of 2009, he has been called to profer a new book, Reflections on Evolutionary Activism by Tom Atleet that could be considered both a capstone work for decades of work by himself and others, and the cornerstone for all that will follow from this point forward.
2006 and still going
2008 and still going
Mark Tovey is the editor of COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace and a pioneer pressing toward the re-connection of Cognitive Science and the emerging Humanities and Social Science and Philosophy hyprid discipline of Collective
Intelligence, as illustrated here.