Connective Knowledge

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Connective Knowledge = A property of one entity must lead to or become a property of another entity in order for them to be considered connected; the knowledge that results from such connections is connective knowledge.


From Stephen Downes, at

Connective knowledge "is more than just the existence of a relation between one entity and another; it implies interaction. A relation - such as 'taller than' or 'next to' - is a type of quality. It describes a property of the object in question, with reference to a second object. But the fact that I am, say, 'taller than' Fred tells us nothing about how Fred and I interact. That is something different.

This is why it is incorrect to represent distributed knowledge merely as a type of probabilistic knowledge. The logic of probability implies no connection between correlated events; it merely observes a distribution. A connected system will exhibit probabilistic characteristics, but it is not itself probabilistic.

Probabilistic knowledge is a type of quantitative knowledge. It is based on the counting of things (or events, or whatever) and of comparisons between one count and another (one needs only to read Carnap to see this clearly). A poll, for example, gives us probabilistic information; it tells us how many people would vote today, and by inference, would vote tomorrow. But the fact that Janet would vote one way, and I would vote one way, tells us nothing about how Janet and I interact.

Connective knowledge requires an interaction. More to the point, connective knowledge is knowledge of the connection. If Janet votes a certain way because I told her to, an interaction has taken place and a connection has been established. The knowledge thus observed consists not in how Janet and I will vote, nor in how many of us will vote, but rather, in the observation that there is this type of connection between myself and Janet." (

Connective "Emergence"

From Stephen Dowes, at

"First, we may perceive an actual set of connections linking a group of entities as a distinct whole. For example, when one domino topples another, and so on, in turn, and we observe this from a distance, we may observe what appears to be a wave moving through the dominos. The wave that we observe can be said to be an 'emergent phenomenon' - it is not a property of the dominos themselves, or even of the falling of the dominos, but of the connectedness of the falling - because one domino causes the next to fall, we see a wave.

Second, we may perceive something as a distinct whole and interpret this as a set of connections. For example, when we look at the image of Richard Nixon on the television, we do not perceive the individual pixels, but rather, the image of a person. But our inference goes beyond merely the observation of the person; if asked, we would say that the appearances of the pixels are connected to each other, through the mechanism of having a common origin (Richard Nixon himself) and the mechanism of video broadcasting.

Emergence is fundamentally the result of interpretation. " (

Characteristics of Connective Knowledge


Is the widest possible spectrum of points of view revealed?


Were the individual knowers contributing to the interaction of their own accord, according to their own knowledge, values and decisions, or were they acting at the behest of some external agency seeking to magnify a certain point of view through quantity rather than reason and reflection?


Is the knowledge being produced the product of an interaction between the members, or is it a (mere) aggregation of the members' perspectives?


Is there a mechanism that allows a given perspective to be entered into the system, to be heard and interacted with by others? (George Siemens)