David Weinberger on networked understanding
April 14, 2007 | By Peter Bihr |
Truth is a property of networks. Rather than thinking that truth is a relationship between the propositions we believe and the way the world is, such that the propositions represent the world, in the networked world the truth is argued for and connected via links. For all but the most mundane of truths, the network of conversations gives us more shades, nuances, and reasons to believe. Which leads me to think that if truth isn’t an emergent property of networks, then understanding is. It is, of course, an unowned, self-contradictory, unsettled truth that is too big to be contained by any individual. It is outside of us and among us. It is gained not by trying to contain it but by traveling through it.
To put things straight, in a second post (and after a little nap) he clarifies on the rather important difference between truth and understanding:
It would have been clearer for me to say understanding is a property of networks. Then I wouldn’t have left the impression that I think facts are a matter of majority opinion. Facts are facts. That’s pretty much their essence. Understanding, however, is plural, at least in many domains â€” less so in the sciences, more so in the humanities. On the other hand, our age should be embarrassed that we’ve reduced truth to mere facts.
I’m curious about his new book – it’s in pre-order, but won’t come out before May: “Everything is Miscellaneous“