Collective Sharing of Individual Knowledge

Last week I found some really interesting sites.

The first one was Quora.

I found a blogpost that highlighted some good reasons to get involved there. I clicked through and was indeed immediately hooked.

It is a question and answer site, where anyone can ask and answer all kinds of questions. But apart from that, you can follow people as well as topics and specific questions.

I thought it was a very good idea to get to know my way around there, because I really love searching for answers to questions I have.

But even more, I love it to hear different opinions and see discussions about certain subjects.

Knowledge Inside

I read somewhere that much of the knowledge is still not in a useable format on the web.

And when you think about it you would say that probably 90% of the information that people have is still in their heads, not on the internet. So we’re trying to get that information out of people’s heads, so it’s not on sources that are hard to access on the internet, and get it into a really useful format to make a valuable database.

So I signed up and learned a lot already. Not yet participating much, but I think I certainly might later on.

Bookmark and Highlight

On there, I also found another interesting site called Diigo. Nothing very special, but for me a great tool. It is a site to bookmark webpages, while at the same time you can highlight that what struck you most in that article.

Which is really great. I did not use it much yet, but it is something I did myself often with copy and paste the most interesting parts of an article.

But not in a very organised way, with the result I could never find anything back. And if I did find it back, I could not find the original source again.

With this site (which has a great browser extension) it is really very easy to bookmark an article and at the same time highlight the essence of why I found it interesting.

Fiction and Non-fiction

And finally, the third site that I found this week, was Goodreads. I think I found it earlier, but never took the time to look around the site. But now I did and signed up.

After that you could start by adding books to a shelf. Books you read already, books you are reading at the moment and books you want to read later.

So I started adding those books and found out some interesting facts while doing that. I am still going through the really huge collection on the site, thinking back about the books I once read and how I would rate them.

One of those facts is that I read only a few fictions. Most of the books I read are non-fiction. But most of those non-fiction books I did not read from start to finish. I just read what I found interesting, what caught my attention at that moment.

But I remembered that there was a period in my life that I did read non-fiction. I read all the books of Agatha Christie when I was young. Some of them even more than once. And I really loved them at that time.

Open but Critical Mind

But after that, there where very little fiction books (with a few exceptions). Most of what I was interested in, where books that had to answer the many questions I had. Which is why I only read them partly. Once I had the answer, I already had another question that lead me to another book.

And suddenly I realised that was the reason why I got so interested in Quora, as soon as I saw it. For me it has the potential of more than just ‘one has the question and one has the answer’.

I definitely see the potential of some sort of collective dialogue. Or debate. Or as I said in my post Debate or Dialogue, at best a combination of both.

The open mind and respect of a dialogue combined with the critical and opposing nature of a debate.

Collective sharing of individual knowledge



  1. As always, I love receiving your posts. I thought I would throw a little “wrench” into the conversational works about “knowing” and “finding” answers.

    Try on this hat: “Once you know something you are in trouble because it then closes the door to other possibilities” – because you have it that you know the answer or how it works.

    I have recently been participating in a series of salons about various topics. They are inquiries into an idea. One was “What is Beauty?”. In this inquiry, we made an interesting rule. You can only ask questions. The whole conversation was nothing but a series of questions. At first there was a moment near the beginning where people were silent as they came to grips with not expressing an opinion or belief about the questions that emerged. Then this magical space unfolded where the topic of beauty expanded and expanded. Each question opened up the topic and generated more and more new questions. Strangely, in the end we were left with no answers but also knowing that your experience and wisdom of the topic had expanded greatly. We all had a much deeper appreciation for beauty and were clear that life without it would not be desirable.

    1. I totally love this: ‘we were left with no answers but also knowing that your experience and wisdom of the topic had expanded greatly’

      Sounds very much like a sort of Bohmian dialogue. At least of the idea I have about such dialogues.

      Also, great to have such an inquiry about beauty. I can totally see how that goes beyond our day to day idea of what ‘beauty’ actually is.

      I can see what you mean with the problem of ‘knowing’ and ‘finding’ answers. And I certainly agree when it is seen as absolute. But personally I hardly ever see anything as absolute (anymore), it all depends on context.

      But I still like answers, although I just as much like to challenge them. Even my own answers. For me, one of the reasons why I love blogging. An ongoing stream instead of setting something in stone.

  2. Annemieke,

    I actually get that you are not tied down to absolutes and right answers. I like answers too by the way. But it is interesting to evaluate our perspective when we are inquiring into ideas and things isn’t it? Coming from ” I know nothing and never will know anything” creates a great space to play in, because then you are free to “ask” so much more.

    I actually see your blog and what you post very much as an inquiry. It is like a salon in many ways. A salon as I am speaking about it has a specific structure and practice behind it. Here is some information about salons to give you an idea of the context in which we facilitate our salons.

    What is a Salon?
    “…[C]onversation – the most basic, most varied, and occasionally the most elevating of all human activities. Humans have made conversation the defining experience of our social identities. Conversation is the sea we swim in. Conversation is the way we convey information, inspire each other, and achieve understanding. Conversation is the music we make when we commune. But not all conversation is created equal. Some talk, though right and proper, is small. Cocktail chitchat, locker room bravado, office gossip, and talk show repartee come to mind.
    “Then there’s salon. Salons are gatherings where people talk “big talk,” talk meant to be listened to and perhaps passionately acted upon. Salons are incubators where ideas are conceived, gestated, and hatched, sometimes in a matter of minutes or hours. Salons are the frontiers of social and cultural change. Salons are the concert halls where conversation is presented in virtuoso style. They are going on all over America right now. Friends and neighbors are coming together to engage in un-small talk. They’re cultivating their creativity, reviving the art of conversation, and quite possibly changing the world.”
    ~ The Joy of Conversation: the Complete Guide to Salons by Jjaida N’ha Sandra

    How do we conduct our Salons?
    We invite people in our community to join us for an evening in our home. Those invited are welcome to invite people in their lives. Every Salon is different. It has very little structure. Mainly, we have a topic and we remind ourselves of the three pitfalls of an inquiry:
    1. There are no answers – We do not gather to solve some puzzle or fix something. We are simply having conversation and exploring our topic. If you come to a Salon for answers, you are misinformed about their intent.
    2. There are no “rights” or “wrongs” – A Salon is not a forum for debate. There are no opinions better than others. It’s exploration and discovery, not an opportunity to argue or debate topics.
    3. No left turns – We are exploring a certain topic, and it’s easy to allow our conversation to shift and wander. We stay on topic as best we can.

    1. Sounds amazing! Which that I lived in your neighborhood. Would love that kind of conversations!

      Especially the staying on topic. I can see how constantly asking questions leads to going so much deeper into the subject of inquiry.

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