Our civilization progresses through intellectual and technological revolutions (often called paradigm shifts.) We began with the invention of language, tools, agriculture, and writing. We drove through the age of exploration, the invention of the printing press, the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution. We are now fully engaged in the Information Age with broad access to computers, lightning-fast communications, intelligent software, and soon AI.
However the promises of the Digital Age call for another paradigm shift—a phase transition (to borrow from thermodynamics)—to solve the issue famously evoked by Naisbitt in Megatrends:
“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.”
We believe that context is essential in transforming information into knowledge, and we are laying out the groundwork for an ambitious project to benefit everyone: a platform upon which a contextual reference tool will be built to usher the Information Age into the Knowledge Age.
This platform is the Open Ontology Project. The Ontology is a scalable, peer-reviewed undertaking to develop a massive hierarchical organization (ontology) of human knowledge.
The Ontology is an essential tool in its own right. Such an organization of knowledge helps frame a subject matter within the domain or domains it belongs to. This helps students understand the “belong to” relationships between various concepts they are exposed to in the classroom. The Ontology creates a framework, or mental matrix, to help metabolize information into knowledge.
The Ontology has the ability to provide lists or collections that are otherwise difficult to find in other places. Whether you are interested in historical events, wines, dogs, galaxies, plumbing or opera, the Ontology provides an easily navigable landscape to provide a coherent index of all that we know. It is to be mined by anyone for unlimited applications. In the immediate, the Ontology can provide an AI-machine learning-based Recommendation Engine for scholars and researchers to provide links to the peer-reviewed literature. Conversely, it can be used by editors as a specialist and expert-reviewer recommendation engine. More generally, it will offer a new methodical system to explore the web, to learn, to shop, to work, to play, and myriad other applications others may think of and develop on top of the Ontology.
The Ontology is different from Wikipedia in that the Ontology is fundamentally based on relations. With its top-down organization, it allows an intuitive navigation between related concepts. It is also text-sparse: Ontology descriptions are limited to short, easily digestible 150-word introductions, augmented by links to external references. As such the Ontology can be viewed as a reasoned index to references such as Wikipedia and online education assets such as Khan Academy, Coursera, edX, etc.