Outlines, Wikis, and Wisdom

I have a great deal of respect for the people who layed the foundation of the computer technology I use today, people like Steve Wozniak, Dan Bricklin, Ward Cunningham, and Dave Winer. I follow Ward and Dave the closest because they actively write and because I use their work every day.

I am struck by the similarities and differences between Ward and Dave’s work. Ward created wiki, which is a tool he created to write and share pattern languages. Wiki’s emphasis is on easy writing and hyperlinking, which I think was the intended purpose of the Web. Dave also created writing tools, the outliner and blogs, that simplify publishing of writing on the Internet and he also created RSS to make it easier for one to keep up with the writing on the Internet. Dave’s original work is the conceptual basis for my stream while Ward’s original work provides the tools for my garden.

I like outlines and find that I really like Federated Wiki and today I realized that the similarity between them is that both provide context to writing but in different ways. Outlines are hiearchical while Federated Wiki has a lineup that shows context between source and destination links in a horizontal and linear fashion. I think this ability to easily see context and connections is also why I like Roam and use it for my private notes.

I am not sure that this matters much to others, but I think there is a relationship between context and history. History is the context of our lives and I think a great deal of our problems come from a failure to see meaning or to see what is really happening because we fail to know the context. Part of the problem may be that it’s too difficult to find the context of history, that’s where tools like oultliners might help, and because it is so difficult few people really take the time to seek out and understand context.

Context is needed for true understanding, knowledge, and thus wisdom and today there is a huge deficiency of wisdom.

Frank McPherson @frankm
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