Annotum: the democratic revolution of knowledge

· Alberto Auné, internet
Autores

Alberto Aune

A tool for sharing knowledge and change the world

Let’s build together this knowledge platform, in a global village that is being born, and whose citizens, through ideas, can produce social, political and cultural changes.

Index

5. Annotum, the global village of lnowledge

The History of Knowledge has stages in the real world with their equivalence in the virtual world. Annotum has produced a change in the way of spreading knowledge which is equivalent to the use of printing to revolutionize the discussion of ideas.

Annotum introduces this parallel and poses ideas and proposals to strengthen this platform, it is an inheritance for the future generations.

1. The real world and the evolution of knowledge

1.1. The single thought

Since Man started communicating by writing he has been creating through graphics and later letters in several alphabets, he felt the need to communicate what was happening in his field of activity. The transference of knowledge was born thus. The Altamira Cave in Cantabria (Spain) is a clear example of this, it keeps pictorial works of Prehistory which in 1985 were designated as World Heritage by the UNESCO.
The Royal Library of Alexandria
Over time knowledge has been kept by various holders, like ancient Egypt’s papyrus and other systems. Unfortunately, the rulers have not always admitted knowledge, and in many cases have opposed it, or wars have frustrated important projects.
The Royal Library of Alexandria was an example of this, it was started as a museum by First Ptolemy Soter, king of Egypt since 305 to 205 B.C. it reached up to 900,000 papyrus volumes.
In the year 48 B.C. there was a sea war between the Egyptian and Roman fleets, which caused a big fire in the city destroying the building where this library was, and caused an irreparable damage to humanity.
There were other libraries, but after the advent of Christianity knowledge was concentrated in monasteries and universities, both institutions being directed by the Catholic Church.
Monks used to transliterate the works in papyrus and that knowledge was introduced in classes at the universities. So did Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), the author of Summa Theologica, who after his death was designated  Patron of Catholic Educational Establishments.
Thus, in the history of real knowledge there is a monopoly of knowledge in the hands of the western Church.

1.2. Plurality of ideas

 

The ideas were until then held up by a few in their dissemination, as there were no means to do so in the hands of those who did not belong to the Church.
Although printing was already being used by the Chinese people since centuries before, its application had not reached Europe yet.
Johannes Gutenberg (circa1398-1468), a German blacksmith, by 1450 invented the movable types printing, publishing copies of the Bible.
Johannes Gutenberg
This invention, which was not widespread at the beginning, caused a revolution in disseminating knowledge.
Books were an important vehicle for transmitting ideas. From the Gutenberg Bible published without prior censorship of the Church, there were new interpretations that led to the Reformation, a movement that led to the creation of new churches from a schism in Western Europe. One of its top leaders was the monk Martin Luther (1483-1546), who produced profound changes since the publication of his 95 Theses, the printing being an important vehicle for spreading.
The democratization of knowledge since Gutenberg’s invention led to profound changes in the world which continue until today.
Dictatorships could not stand the publication of ideas that had points of divergence with the single thought in their countries. Proof of this were the book burnings organized by totalitarian governments, such as that made in Berlin (Germany) on May 10, 1933 under the rule of Adolph Hitler.
In the twentieth century new technologies came, such as radio and television, extending the possibility of spreading ideas. Both played an important role, not only cultural but also political.
In wartime radio played an important role in transmitting information behind enemy lines, as happened in France with the BBC of London, transmitting coded messages to the Resistance, which fought against Nazi occupation.
Also radio and TV had an important role in the implosion of the Soviet Union, because citizens received their news about what was happening outside the then so-called Iron Curtain.
Finishing the first decade of the 21st century the few remaining totalitarian governments in the world, such as Cuba, North Korea and China, are limiting the income of receivers of these waves to prevent their citizens from being aware that there exist in the world other political and economic options than those imposed in their countries.

2. The virtual world and the evolution of knowledge

 

2.1. The single thought

 

The computer, which had begun to spread in the world in the 1950s and 1960s, had a strong impetus when the first networks of users emerged.
Microcomputers, connected by telephone, were the first outpost for the dissemination of knowledge by users in forums like Usenet.
But the knowledge itself remained in the great cultural centers, no longer dominated by the Church as in medieval times, but with an institutional orientation, except in the case of large state libraries such as Washington’s.
At first Internet was a network destined for the U.S. military field, and later was used by universities and academic centers.
Its first relationship, therefore, was with the power centers, the military as well as the political and religious ones, which occurred in the 1960s.
At present there are online libraries and encyclopedias.
However, it is a system that provides access to a schematic knowledge as established by those who have formulated it.
Thus a single discourse is produced, which often responds to economic and political interests.
The forums of users with tools like Usenet continued noticing that the knowledge would move on from being exclusively used by those in power to a grassroots democracy.
These large facilities amounted to the monasteries and universities of the Middle Ages in terms of concentration of knowledge in the known world.
Also mainstream media, governments, political parties and organizations are present on the Internet with pages that introduce and promote their activities. However, it is difficult to find in these debates views opposing the official position.

2.2. Plurality of ideas

 

With the increase of Usenet forums, and the construction of microcomputers in the homes by users, ideas start being discussed on the Internet and debates reach a large number of issues and ideas.
Alvin Toffler
Then the communities of users appear, designed to produce significant changes in cultural, social and political areas, among others, as is pointed out by Alvin Toffler in his book The Third Wave, published in 1979.
The groups have a crosscutting activity, showing that the hitherto supposed to be minorities were not such and began to exercise their civil rights, postponed until then.
Then encyclopedias and dictionaries arrived to the Web, with a large accumulation of useful information for those wishing to approach knowledge.
In some encyclopedias the users are involved, as in the best known one -Wikipedia. However, the accumulation of information by users is not always objective, because in sensitive issues such as political and historical ones, the data provided are not always objective.
There arises the need for a knowledge platform that allows the reader insights into different points of view on the same subject, enriching access, with a knowledge of those writing to assess their suitability.

3. Annotum: the revolution of knowledge

 

3.1. The present time

 

In 2012 WordPress opened for the users the opportunity to participate in a project that would change the up-to-then available means for knowledge spread: Annotum, a theme in WordPress that is much more than a simple theme.
The network of authors in several languages has grown exponentially, as well as the numerous topics.
Although the largest number of authors are individuals, also groups of researchers and scholars from different disciplines have published works and monographs that are part of university and professional level expositions.
Annotum is a first step towards the democratization without boundaries of knowledge and opinions, within a framework that allows an approach to the encyclopedias and dictionaries. So, the concept «Knowledge is the only good that grows more the more it is shared» will be applied.
It is also the new Alexandria Library shared by units of knowledge that form a network involving authors from different countries worldwide.
Just as the Spanish King Charles V (1550-1558) used to say about his vast empire, Annotum may say, in reference to its units of knowledge: «In my domains the sun never sets.»
This democratization of knowledge occurs horizontally, among the authors.
Thus, Annotum produces an innovation in knowledge: democratic pluralism goes beyond the individual, because by being able to comment, to be co-author and collaborator, a global network of knowledge exchange is woven.
This situation outperforms the traditional idea of an online encyclopedia, as it recognizes the contribution of each author, enabling him/her to achieve the reputation that his/her works deserve.
This experience, currently will mark the access to internet knowledge for the future.
Although there exist other systems of knowledge sharing, as the excellent Yahoo! Answers, they apply to a specific and brief topic, so that Annotum is marking a difference which is difficult to achieve.

3.2. The future

3.2.1. A legacy

 

Annotum is also a legacy for future generations.
On this platform of knowledge, the work of each author will survive him/her, remaining after his/her departure as an evidence of his/her work done for knowledge.
This point is important and should be understood by the authors. There is no other platform of knowledge that offers this possibility, because WordPress has a vision for long-term growth with a life expectancy exceeding that of several generations of human beings.
Therefore, each author has the opportunity to offer his/her work to readers and researchers who are yet unborn, who through this work will access individual and plural historical evidence on cultural subjects, preventing dominant institutions in society from imposing on future generations their single speech, seeking to extend their power beyond time.

3.2.2. The possibilities

 

The future of Annotum will be defined by the authors.
Its permanence in time as a network of knowledge sharing, in which the authors are making their contribution as a legacy for the present and future generations, is an opportunity that can not be overlooked for the sake of humanity.

3.2.3. WordPress and the authors: a necessary synergy

 

Annotum needs the authors in order to succeed, while they, in turn, need WordPress to have a reliable support.
To do this, WordPress should provide the authors reliability, respect and guarantee that their work will be recognized and will endure over time.
To the extent that this support is a reality the response of the authors will be positive and this platform of knowledge will grow exponentially.

4. The history of the dissemination of knowledge, both in the real world and the virtual world

 

Annotum is in its starting point, as were the printing press, mass media (newspapers, magazines, films, radio, television) in the real world and in the online virtual world.
These beginnings led in some cases to schisms and divisions, as happened in the case of cultural or political newspapers in which one group separates from the original one to start another publication due to differences in their ideological orientation.
Annotum can not afford a split. It is a platform on which all authors, in cultural diversity, must work together to improve it. If a schism happened it would be the authors’ responsibility and a harm to the entire community.
A clear definition in this respect can be:

 

“Annotum: an opportunity to share knowledge,
accepting and respecting the highest diversity
building from it the strongest unity»

 

As well as internet started in computers and then got through microcomputers, laptops, iPads, and cell phones inter alia, also Knol, present only on computers today, will come through other means that it can reach and the ones which technology might create in the future.
Heraclitus
Those who today, in this years, are Annotum authors have the privilege of being the pioneers of a change in the dissemination of knowledge that will evolve over time.
Annotum’s future is unpredictable, as are the changes in the history of mankind. The content will be the same in terms of ideas but its evolution will not stop.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus (535-484 BC) described this process clearly saying «We never bathe twice in the same river.» Just as humans have the same spirit and the same name during their existence, but their body changes, Annotum will keep its name but the way of sharing knowledge will change over time.

5. Annotum, the global village of knowledge

 

In 1968 the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) wrote the book War and Peace in the Global Village, which popularized the term global village to express global interconnectedness created by the electronic communication means.
This reality was strengthened with the arrival of the Internet and today is a truism, due to the globalization in the dissemination and discussion of ideas.
Annotum is the global knowledge village, forming an interconnected network that knows no bounds. The authors relate to each other through comments, contributions and coauthorship, without a geographic limitation.

6. Communication between authors with similar interests

 

However, this global village needs from google a support in order to achieve a higher level.
To do this, It is necessary to create communities within Annotum, with a scheme similar to the groups of large portals like Google and Yahoo!, where the authors who share a thematic affinity can have a more private communication than in the general comments.

7. Defending Annotum’s identity

 

Annotum, much more than a theme (style) in WordPress, is a platform of knowledge and every post or article is an authorized article about a specific topic.
If several authors write on the same topic it is possible to learn about different points of view and arrive to an inference. This item is distinctive of Annotum, as in some online encyclopedias each reference appears only once and authorized users can modify the text, but the reader does not know how many times this has happened and who is responsible for the change.
In contrast, in Annotum it is possible to identify each author among several others who develop the same or similar issues.
Annotum is not a blog either. The concept of unity of knowledge should be a priority for an author to have a respectable reputation.
To the extent that Annotum expresses its identity through the works of authors, they will strengthen their own identity in a positive synergy.

8. Market and Annotum: privileging quality products

 

The quality of a post or article in Annotum leads to a greater number of visits, comments and contributions, which gives prestige to its author.
It is therefore important that the community of authors give good scores to posts or articles that show the effort made by the author to produce it.
The participation of the authors in this interaction is important for promoting the good authors and relegating those seeking promotion through plagiarism, aggression, ideological and political propaganda and any other unfair way.
So Annotum, as a part of WordPress, is governed by the same rules as the economy: the market regulates rewarding high quality products and rejecting those with poor quality or which are fraudulent.
But just like in the real economy there are regulatory organisms to which consumers can exercise their right to complain, WordPress must have someone responsible who will answer, within a reasonable time, the claims of perpetrators or criminal misconduct, showing the company’s responsibility to those who collaborate with it.

9. The Defender of Annotum Authors

 

The Swedish Constitution in 1809 established the figure of the ombudsman or People’s Defender, to whom citizens could report abuses performed by the state.
This legal concept was established by several countries. It is an official person who receives complaints and allegations made by citizens and presents them to the appropriate persons seeking a quick solution.
Often there may be Annotum authors who express their grievances about various reasons, such as bugs or lack of response from WordPress to justified claims. Receiving no response, the author feels a frustration which can lead him/her to abandon Annotum.
ombudsman is needed through whom requests, suggestions and complaints can be made.
If necessary there may be multiple ombudsmen, differentiated by language and/or topics, selected from current employees of WordPress and/or prominent personalities from various disciplines.
Complaints and claims, as well as the solutions or answers obtained, can be part of a post or article in which authors may check the importance they have to WordPress.

10. Delegation of powers

 

A competent ruler or leader can avoid concentrating in himself/herself all the decisions to be taken on behalf of his/her cause. He/she knows that a leader does not know the whole reality and needs help to interpret it and thus make the right decisions.
It would be a mistake for WordPress to look at Annotum from a desk, simply giving laboratory advice and avoiding the daily reality as it is known to the authors.
It is therefore important that the authors can decide in a democratic way about who among them, being closer to the reality than in the offices of the great internet company, can make concrete decisions and practices concerning any matter involving the authors. This will strengthen the community of Annotum.

11. Governing the global village of knowledge

 

Every country has a government made up of authorities elected by citizens and has a program of its administration to comply with.
The Earth, a global village

Annotum is a growing global village of knowledge. Therefore, it is convenient to think about its authorities.

In any government of a country, province or municipality, it is impossible for the authorities to know all the issues and topics to be dealt with.
For this reason they delegate a part of their authority by allowing those in charge of areas of lesser responsibility to make decisions every day.
These officials are elected by popular voting, because they are known by the citizens who know their activity and work for the community.
As in the case of these leaders, in Annotum authors participation and involvement in this project allows to recognize those who stand out for their willingness to work and commitment.
Google can then provide the formation of a system by which the support of the authors allows Annotum leaders, custodians of the dissemination of knowledge, to have some power at the local level, for example geographic or regarding language, that allows them to make immediate decisions on specific issues, eliminating bureaucratic steps.
These decisions may be appealed before google by the authors-citizens of the Annotum Global Village- in case it is considered that there was abuse of power or dereliction of duty by civil servants, as in real democracy.

12. Looking to the future

As already explained, knowledge has had an evolution in the history of mankind, in the real world, evolving in a positive way, as in the virtual world, especially on the Internet.
The future of knowledge in the real world will be positive if the researchers are free to publish their thesis, if there is tolerance of views and different opinions, and if governments consider culture, science and the arts as State policies, that remain over time regardless of the ideological orientation of each government.
Likewise, similar parameters should exist in the virtual world.
Annotum is here to stay, but it requires a joint effort between WordPress and the authors, in order to build together a knowledge legacy for future generations.
This knowledge, applied to both scientific and topical issues, will lead to positive cultural changes through the democratization of knowledge.
The ideas presented here are just a starting point to achieve this goal. Let’s work together, WordPress and authors, believing that the joint effort will yield positive and lasting results. Alberto Auné

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