Knowledge, sir, should be free to all! — Harry Mudd, “I, Mudd”, stardate 4513.3
Mudd was a thief, but what he said was correct. Star Trek has always fascinated me. The important thing is the problem that appears as the central part of each episode. I see evidences of free knowledge. Spock or Data seem to have unlimited access to common knowledge, covering science, technology, stories of realms, spacecrafts and the list goes on and on. Three recent readings that I have come across put this aspect in perspective and I was wondering can we ever have a system where knowledge is truly free and accessible.
Richard Price, in his article ‘The Future of Science’ has brought out the weakness of the processes governing the progress of science. He urges the scientific community to embrace the social networking phenomena to speed the process of academic verification and publishing the scientific research.
Udayan Banerjee in his post titled ‘Network over Knowledge’ opines that knowledge is not power, but in fact the network underlying the knowledge is more powerful. To summarize, It is not important to know how to use a hammer instead it is more important to know whom to contact, who will guide you to Thor.
Steven Johnson in his TED talk ‘Where good ideas come from’ brings out very convincingly that the ideas are best generated in a hubbub, such as a coffee-house or in the Monday morning free for all sharing session on what was done last week. He gives an excellent example of the birth of the GPS idea.
Wikipedia is an excellent indicator of free knowledge, but no means the end of it. To truly enable learning certain changes happen in each one of us.
We must seek to satisfy our curiosity, unless there is desire to do this, knowledge cannot be free. We must be daring enough to ask. However this is only one side of the action. On the other hand we must be able to answer to the extent we can all those questions that have been asked. We cannot be afraid to answer – for the answer if wrong will get corrected soon enough. Only this will help enriching the knowledge pool. We are perhaps improving the accessible part of it, but when will we address free access?