Prediction: A Profound Paradigm Shift
This nontechnical chapter is relevant to this book in at least three ways. First, it predicts a profound paradigm shift in the ways in which humans communicate on the Web. Second, it considers the potential impacts of such a paradigm shift. And third, it describes some of what has been learned during half a Century of research on the use of knowledge webs by humans. Topic map designers and implementers would do well to consider and learn from these ideas and experiences since topic maps are being created in the Service of human users.
This chapter begins with a brief examination of the significance of language. It reviews several of the revolutions that have occurred as language has evolved. The goal is to share with you, the reader, a sense of the power of language. Vast and reverberating impacts have been associated with changes in the ways in which we use language. I propose that another change is occurring, one that will also have an enormous impact on what and how we think, how we build consensus, and how we solve problems. It is Happening now, even as we resist.
The Lightness of Being section describes the manner of communication I imagine will become the Standard on die Web. It describes die user interface, not the programming that imderlies it (which is the subject of much of the rest of the book).
After that appears a brief history of knowledge mapping and education. (More complete treatments can be found in Wandersee ; Fisher et al. ; Mintzes et al. ; and Novak .) Next I contrast the ephemeral nature of many new ideas with what the research says about semantic networks and learning. Finally, I describe the paradigm shift that is under way, due entirely to our latest development in communication, the World Wide Web.
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