Learning to survive in harmony

from “Constructing the World Mind”

Can our society double up its mind-capacity? It must do so or die; and I can see no reason why it may not widen its consciousness of complex conditions far enough to escape wreck.” – Henry Adams, American educationalist [1838 – 1919]

H. G. Wells thought that the only way out of humanity’s seemingly headlong rush towards self-destruction was by inventing a global process of learning. It is for this reason that he set the goal of organising what he called a World Encyclopaedia. As we approach the Third Millennium the systemic social and environmental breakdown — the mass extinction of species — caused by human behavior, which Wells feared so much, appears to be just about to engulf the planet. It is as if here and now — in nearly our last moment — before the life-destroying process becomes irreversible that an opportunity is being presented for helpless, dispersed individuals to pool their knowledge in order to find a way out of our self-made predicament, or at least, as James Lovelock suggests, to pass on some useful knowledge to any survivors left after a cataclysm. The purpose of these pages is to carry on the work started by Wells in the 1930s by using them to create a group learning process focused on the subject of the World Mind itself. They are also a demonstration of how a systematic method of analysing and synthesising information, called Content Analysis, and a form of Tony Buzan’s Mindmapping (TM) can be used as fundamental tools in the actual construction of a World Mind which could learn fast enough to avert social and environmental catastrophe.

Recognize Urgency – Do or Die

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

In H. G. Wells’ view, the world is in a race between education and catastrophe and “catastrophe is winning.” He laments that the “urgency of adaptation has still to be grasped” now that humankind has become what he called “a new animal”, so much more “incredibly swift and strong — except in the head”. For Wells it was a case of either “the evolution of a new more powerful type of man” or “the extinction of our species.”

Inventing the concept of hypertext

<a href=”http://bit.ly/gPmkKE”>from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”</a>

H. G. Wells believed he was outlining “a scheme for the reorganisation and reorientation of information and education throughout the world.” He advocated “effective schemes for classification” and “extensive and comprehensive indexes”, the “construction” of which would be “closely coordinated”. According to Wells, these retrieval tools would be cross-referenced to assist users in viewing information from “various viewpoints and approaches.”

The key global resource

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

In H. G. Wells view the World Encyclopaedia would be created by the “systematic collaborative effort” of a multidisciplinary worldwide group of scholars, scientists and intellectuals, who would be continuously communicating with a well-informed public feeling as if they were “really participating” in what Alan Mayne describes as networks of policy and decision makers, professinal advisers, generalists and holistic thinkers. He expected the new organ to develop a directorate and staff of “specialised editors and summarists” who would synthesise and abstract the content of existing sources, and that many of the professional activities within education would be replaced “by a new set of activities, the encyclopaedic work, the watching brief” aimed at broadening and enlightening both popular and specialist minds. Wells thought  education would be transformed in such a way as to bring back the “original university idea” of masters surrounded by freely formed groups of student helpers, although he warned against a “professor-ridden world” as being as dangerous as a “theologian-ridden world”. After finishing formal education, Wells wanted people to spend their lives in the process of self-managed learning, the results of which would be “distributed through the general information channels of the world”.

Evolution – Stranger and stronger than magic

H. G. Wells conceived of people as a “manufactured product of which the natural man is the raw nucleus” who has been brought into existence by “educational adaptation….. much swifter than “genetic adaptation.” He emphasises the importance of learning about the growth of “the world’s knowledge apparatus” and marvels how it has grown up “unpremeditated” and “without a plan,” while continuously enlarging the possible scope of “political cooperation at every stage in its growth”.