Harmonizing – In an “age of imperative construction”

from “Constructing the World Mind”

In the Critical Introduction, Adamantine’s editor, Alan Mayne links H. G. Wells World Brain concept with both John Amos Comenius citing his 1643 tract, Patterns of Universal Knowledge, proposing “an internal peace of minds inspired by a system of ideas and thinking”, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of the noosphere, described as “a network of ideas and thought covering the whole planet”. In H. G. Wells view, this “rehabilitation of thought and learning” would bring to the world a more “progressive, adaptable and recuperative” form of religious expression. In order to achieve what Wells called “the beginning of a new world”, first a “synthesis of knowledge” would have to be undertaken by evolving a “networking organism” (Mayne) or a “widespread world intelligence conscious of itself” (Wells). Wells believed it would be the “New world or nothing,” and expected people’s lives would be changed “essentially and irrevocably” in the face of what he saw as mankind’s “primary need in this age of imperative construction.”

 

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Interactive processing – Emphasising the key concepts of cyberspace

from “Constructing the World Mind”

H. G. Wells emphasises the necessity to “fully recognise that communication is a two way process” and also the importance of effective presentation, while Alan Mayne calls the Brain a “social networking” organism or “nervous system.”

 

Knowledge Working – Learning to create an “intellectual authority”

from “Constructing the World Mind”

People whom H. G. Wells called “intellectual workers” would, he predicted, arise from the world’s universities and research institutions and cooperate in order to create an “intellectual authority” – consisting of a “network” linking centres of learning with the people of the world, whom he conceived as its “general intelligence”. The goals of Wells’ life long learning society are listed as: developing individual talents, fostering “each individual’s capacity for independent thinking” and providing the practical knowledge needed “for working and everyday life.” H. G. Wells predicts that knowledge workers will move from the assembly of knowledge to its digestion, with the ultimate objective of achieving wisdom, defined as having “a sense of knowing what to do, when handling complex problems that require understanding and effective decisions.”

Technical means found, intellectual means lost?

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

The 1990s versions of the World Brain concept — being less practical perhaps — put their faith in evolution as the principle means by which the world brain phenomenon will come to pass. H. G. Wells put his faith in promoting ways of enhancing human learning as the best means of “socially constructing” the global mind. For both H. G. Wells and James Lovelock, the World Brain is a project needing human attention, major policy decisions and some form of money to realise.
The irony is that now that the technological means to create a world knowledge resource are here in the form of worldwide computer networking and multimedia databases, the intellectual means pointed to by H. G. Wells in the 1930s seem to have been forgotten.

 

Information objects traded on a knowledge market

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

The components of what H. G. Wells advocated provide a picture of an omnipresent organ, consisting of an ever growing knowledge base fed by a global community of scholars and information professionals. Although H. G. Wells expected the operation of the World Brain to be funded publicly, he was worried about the dangers of a kind of intellectual monopoly. A component unforeseen by H. G. Wells, which may well take care of his doubts, is the emergence of a free market for knowledge. A huge number of “knowledge objects” already exist — as H. G. Wells well knew. The element most needed now is organizing and compiling them into an intuitively understandable framework that enables common access.

There is a controversial strain of thought among the Artificial Intelligence community which advocates the use of computer systems to carry out this knowledge processing. Even they admit, though, that the project will take many years before it becomes a practical proposition, assuming a true understanding of people’s intelligence and knowledge processes is reached. In the words of Tony Kent, software pioneer, “finding useful information is an intelligent process requiring intelligent people because at the end of the day only the intelligent can recognize what is useful.” Meanwhile, there is a huge abundance of human intelligence all over the world, most of it wasted, because of lack of knowledge. What are we waiting for?

James Lovelock hints at some important components of the intelligence process which must be present if any kind of human learning organization is to work. It must be fun and it must be rewarding. Although, as Lovelock says, durable hard copy versions of the World Encyclopedia must be widely available for use in case of emergency. In the meantime deploying multimedia computer networks in the service of a global learning enterprise must be desirable … and more fun and much cheaper than long-lasting print alone. d much cheaper than long-lasting print alone.

An omnipresent organ

from “Global Learning – Constructing the World Mind”

H. G. Wells envisages a “new world organ” which would, “using the continually increasing facilities of photography,” render the world wide “reduplication of indexes of records continually easier.” ¬†Wells even wrote that the World Brain “might have the form of a network” with its files and conferences at “the core of its being”. According to Wells, frequently reissued volumes of “the essential Encyclopaedia” would spawn “swarms of pamphlets.”

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”.