Distributed Advancement of Knowledge

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"Throughout history, scholarship was focused on a small number of knowledge centers. In the ancient world, the Library of Alexandria served as the epicenter of learning. Later, a number of places served as hubs, such as the Königsberg of Kant and Hilbert, the Vienna of Freud, Brentano and Wittgenstein and the Bloomsbury Group centered around Cambridge.

Yet today, there is far less need to be in a place physically. I remember when I first moved overseas in the late 90’s. Besides email and expensive telephone calls, there was virtually no way for me to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Yet within a decade, my mother was videoconferencing with her newborn granddaughter over Skype and I was keeping up with the lives of people I knew back home on Facebook.

Similar technologies are being deployed in more substantial pursuits. Services like GoToMeeting and Zoom allow executives to not only videoconference, but to share documents. We can collaborate using Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive. People from all over the world can take courses at top universities on sites like Coursera.

The prestigious journal Nature recently noted that the average scientific paper has four times as many authors as it did in the 1950’s. It’s also become common for co-authors to work at far-flung institutions. We’ve largely moved to a distributed model for advancement of knowledge." (http://www.digitaltonto.com/2015/the-revolution-will-not-be-centralized/)