[iDC] Achieving (and living with) Perfect Knowledge

Abdul-Rahman Advany abdulrahman at advany.com
Mon Sep 22 22:28:14 UTC 2008

Hi Boris,
Great article, good structure, and well written, and although I do agree
with most of your arguments, I think is lacking one essential detail. I hope
I can convey it as well as you did with your article.

If we agree that information only informs as long as it convey's something
that is previously not known. The process of taking in information is a
process of sensemaking where everone notices something differently and
labels it differently. Some people may be suprised to see someone put jelly
on peanutbutter while other might think its the most common thing there
is. And that knowledge is inherently social. It forms by interacting with
your environment in any form, visual, textual or with people. Reflecting
them on previously formed presumptions.

Saying that I don't think there is somethink like "Achieving (and living
with) Perfect Knowledge" but there might be something like "Pefect
Information Access". As most information might all ready be there but the
process of gaining that knowledge will always be inperfect as its is a
social process. Reflecting on what you that you knew and what others think
it is, the path to gaining more knowledge is not a path towards pefection.
But a path towards having the potention to make sense in more ways than
others (and thus be more creative).

Although you may say that I am only talking about semantics, I think I can
clarify it with an example...

A good example of can be found in the field of social media expert, where
there are more experts that we have people in this world. Because there is
so much information people have easy access to what social media is, how it
works, and can participate in all kinds of social apps.

But the main problem still is that most of them see it a single disipline,
and don't have the experience or the havn't taken the difficult path of
actually doing more than reading about it. They havn't touched the subject
from other disiplines (therefore having a limited view of the challenges
people face when working with social media or trying to gain some strategic
benefits using them). And there isn't one person active in the field that
has a unified approach to it. Because its multidisiplinary (like many other
field where creativity is required), most questions require you to learn by
gaining knowledge, trail and error, enc. Doing so they get more creative,
and have more knowledge to make sense of the situations they face in
creative ways. Information can't convey that ambiguity, the diversity of
association we make, its just to complex to externalize.

In other works I think there can't be such thing as perfect knowledge, as it
would always result in the same associations beging made. And people would
loose their creative approach to problems. Results would always be the same,
as the associations would always be the same, because the answers to
questions would always be the same. But there can be something like the
perfect access to information as everyone percieves and uses it differently
leading to a different result and a difference in the knowledge they gained.

I could go on how perfect access to information would be personalized, enc..
but there has been
so much written about that already I don't think I need to repeat that.

Please do keep sharing such articles,

Kinds regards,


p.s. forgive my bad english, always have trouble with grammar/spelling...

On Sun, Sep 21, 2008 at 10:46 PM, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten <
bomega at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi there,
> My name is Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. I have been following this
> list since two years but have never properly introduced myself. I'm a
> Dutch serial Internet Entrepreneur, blogger and I regularly speak at
> conferences and companies about innovation, technology and
> entrepreneurship.
> Below is a draft for a post I'm writing for two of my blogs and part
> of a presentation I'm doing regularly for conferences and interested
> companies. The title of the presentation is "How entrepreneurship,
> serendipity, the image of God and interactivity all come together in
> one vision of the future of technology and humankind". The story I
> have written is titled "Achieving (and living with) Perfect Knowledge"
> and is currently in draft form. I would be delighted with any feedback
> from the list here. Hope you don't mind the typos and grammatical
> errors:
> Big title: Achieving (and living with) Perfect Knowledge
> Subtitle: No Excuse for Ignorance
> Today I was relaxing in the sun with Tessa and Loïs. I was drinking
> Tonic water which is flavored with quinine which gives it a
> distinctively bitter taste. Loïs wanted to taste it and Tessa wondered
> out loud 'do you think quinine could be bad for children?'.
> I thought "Well, maybe it is. Quinine is a fever-reducing chemical and
> the first effective treatment for malaria".
> But I didn't know if it was bad for children so I simply said: 'Look
> it up'.
> We both own an iPhone so within seconds Tessa could tell me that non-
> medical Tonic water contains a medically insignificant amount of
> quinine and was perfectly safe for Loïs. A few minutes later Tessa
> said "This is probably one of the last hot days before autumn starts".
> So I asked her "When does autumn start?". She simply replied: "Look it
> up".
> So I did. It starts tomorrow.
> When Loïs was 4 she demanded cookies on a Sunday. I told her we were
> out of cookies. She told me to make new ones. I told her I didn't know
> how. She became irritated and exclaimed "Sure you do, just look it up
> on The Internet!".
> She was right and I was wrong. I do know how to make cookies and I
> also know how a battery works and even how to build a nuclear bomb. I
> just have to look it up. I have no excuse for ignorance.
> As technology advances, internet becomes ubiquitous and portable
> devices like the iPhone are distributed to billions of people we all
> get access to more information then ever before.
> Sometimes you hear people complain about 'Information Overload'. What
> they will say is that there is too much information too handle. What
> they mean is that they have too little time to handle the tasks that
> get thrown at them in the form of email. There can never be 'too much'
> information.
> If you pick up a dictionary you won't complain that it is too complete
> will you? Do you think Google indexes too many pages? No, the only
> thing you might complain about it that you can't find the information
> you need. Once you do, there can never be TOO much information too
> choose from.
> Achieving Perfect knowledge
> If you look up "Perfect" in a dictionary it will say something like
> this:
>     "Lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature
> or kind."
> One day, we will have Perfect Knowledge. Although we won't know
> everything there is to know our knowledge of the world will approach a
> perfect state. It will be 'lacking nothing essential to the whole'.
> Will scientist know everything there is to know? No, certainly not.
> Will be know everything about the past up to and beyond the origins of
> the universe? No, certainly not.
> What we will know is everything we could possible want to know in the
> course of a lifetime as will be practical for a normal human being. We
> will be able to answer 99.999% of all questions we can expect to ask
> ourselves. All we will need is a second of two to formulate the
> question and look it up. This will present us with new issues to deal
> with. Right now our lives and societies are focused on the pursuit of
> knowledge. Our schools, universities and companies all work on finding
> our more, about more. We want to 'Know' it all.
> What happens if one day we do? What if technology makes knowledge
> accessible everywhere for, almost, everyone? What if we reach
> Knowledge Nirvana? How would we deal with an abundance of knowledge
> and the responsibility to deal with it.
> A girl in a candy store
> In an interview a famous candy store owner was asked if he ever had
> trouble with employees stealing candy. His reply: "We tell our new
> employees to eat as much candy as they want when they start. They all
> eat a lot of candy the first day or two and then become so fed up with
> candy that they never eat, and steal, again."
> Could the same be applied to information and knowledge? If suddenly
> you would be able to know everything there was to know, would you
> become bored with the whole thing after a few days? Would you start
> concentrating on other things than the pursuit of knowledge and just
> focus on being happy? But happy with what? How does it feel to know
> everything?
> The Horn of Plenty
> Of course you can't contain, freeze or finish knowledge. Information
> tends to multiply if combined and shared. If I know something and tell
> you about it I don't get poorer but we both get richer. I know what I
> know and I know that you know what I know and I know part of what you
> know. Information increases in mass as more is gained. Information
> grows as magically as Van Helmont's tree:
>     "A 17th-century scientist by the name of Van Helmont planted a
> willow sapling in a container that held 200 pounds of soil and, for
> five years, gave it nothing but water. At the end of that time, the
> tree was found to weigh 169 pounds, and the soil 199 pounds, 14 ounces—
> from just two ounces of soil had come 169 pounds of tree."
> Add information to information and you will get more information back
> than you have put in.
> Absolute & Perfect Knowledge and the End of War
> People who hate foreigners are often very friendly with their foreign
> neighbors, or foreign evening shop manager or security guard at their
> company. They will say "yeah, they ALL have to get the hell out of MY
> country. Well, except my neighbors because those are really
> hardworking decent people. The rest, gotta go!"
> The truth, of course, is that ALL foreigners are really hardworking
> decent people once you get to know them. The whole basis of that
> problem is a lack of knowledge. Nobody would kill anybody if they
> really know them, and their mothers. Lack of knowledge starts wars and
> ends marriages: 'we never really talk anymore' and 'my wife doesn't
> understand me'.
> It seems highly unlikely that Navy Captain William S. Parsons ("Deak")
> would have dropped "Little Boy" if he would have known any of the
> people of the ground and the devastation they were about to cause. In
> fact, he said "I knew the Japs were in for it, but I felt no
> particular emotion about it". You need a large amount of ignorance to
> kill another person.
> Unfortunately there is more media attention for people killing each
> other over MySpace profiles than there is for the positive effects of
> everybody being connected to everyone via Social Networks right now.
> I'm sure that will change as soon as the first bomber returns from its
> mission because they checked out the Facebook pages of the people in
> the city they were about to bomb.
> Living with Perfect Knowledge
> Not long from now you will carry a little machine with you that will
> be able to answer any question to throw at it. There will be no
> excuses for ignorance for any and all of us. You will know where you
> are, what the rules are for the place you are in, what happened there
> 5 minutes ago to whom and what happened there 5, 50, 500 and 5.000
> years ago. Oh, and what the weather will be like tomorrow. You will
> look at something or someone and instantly be presented with
> everything ever documented about that thing, event or person.
> What if that moment, that little machine, was here tomorrow. Isn't the
> iPhone that machine? How does that influence us as human beings?
> I think we have an obligation to start thinking about this state of
> Perfect Knowledge so we will know what to do when we realize that it
> is here.
> Sincerely,
> Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
> boris at thenextweb.org
> The Next Web Conference & Blog
> http://thenextweb.org
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Abdul-Rahman Advany

IM: abdulrahman at advany.com
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