Qwiki looks like a very interesting platform. It’s like Wikipedia in that it is like an encyclopedia of general knowledge, only instead of the knowledge being constructed primarily by contributors, it is created by machines, pulling all these little bits and pieces of content from other spots on the web. It does this on the fly using semantic web technologies. There is a way that users can participate, by suggesting sources of information that might improve a Qwiki, but the heavy lifting is primarily done by machines. And it looks very pretty. The UI is slick.
In taking a look at Qwiki, I came across this blog post from Gregory Roekens in which he connects semantic web technologies with a theory of knowledge creation and information processing called mental space theory, which, in turn, is based on something called a DIKW (data, information, knowledge and wisdom) hierarchy. DIKW illustrates a hierarchical relationship in that data and information lead to knowledge, which leads to wisdom. I haven’t come across this term or theory before, but it is intriguing.
In a nutshell and using the diagrams below, our brain is using 40% of mental space to process data into information, a further 30% to process information into knowledge, 20% to process knowledge into Wisdom and only the remaining 10% is used to process Wisdom into Vision (see diagram 1).
In his work Scott Carpenter explains that thanks to data-handling technology (think excel spreadsheet, charts and dashboard) it allows the human cognitive energy to shift upward and produce information out of data (see diagram 2). Without these technologies the cognitive is locked down by mundane and time consuming effort to process the data into information.
What’s really exciting in Scott’s theory is that with the Semantic Web and its semantic processing power cognitive allocation can shift to Wisdom and Vision with the machine effectively delivering the Knowledge (see diagram 3).
Qwiki via Stephen Downes