theknews.org

theknews

theknews.org

Things we once knew – in support of distilled knowledge and persistent wisdom.

A place to find and contribute the best knuggets of wisdom on any #topic.

Niraj Lal, Nick Binnington, August 2016

 

not for profit.

 

Knuts and bolts on how it works

theknews.org will one day store the best available knuggets of wisdom/advice/thoughts on any topic in the world.  It works by the contribution of ‘knuggets’ with an associated #topic (and optionally an @author). These topics can be searched and the knuggets rated by readers.

An example entry would be the pithy advice from Michael Pollan on what to eat:

Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. #health #diet #life @michaelpollan

where the attributed author of the entry (known as a Knewer pronounced ‘canoe-er’) linked the advice to the topics ‘#diet’, ‘#health’, and ‘#life’.

Another might be the adage:

Everything in moderation. #health #life #excess

Searching for “health” would give:

  1. Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. #diet #health #life | ↑ ↓   931
  2. Everything in moderation #health #life #excess| ↑ ↓ 79

Readers rate the merit of any entry by clicking the arrows. The Value of each entry is persistent; that is, the number represents the weighted opinion of all readers since the entry’s creation.

Similarly for any topic one could think of…

 

The thinking behind it

Essay by Niraj Lal

“I’m cheap”, my research supervisor – an eminent German scientist – told me. “I don’t care what you work on, as long as it can be published in Science or Nature” – referring to the world’s highest-impact scientific journals.  He said it tongue-in-cheek, but it’s the pursuit of the New that drives many of our bright scientists – the discovery of new knowledge, new technologies, new understandings of our universe and our place in it.

It’s an admirable aim, an endeavour that provides us with every aspect of our lives that differs from Neanderthal existence:  longer lifetimes, lower infant mortalities, YouTube cat videos, Wikipedia, TVs, microwaves,  air-travel, penicillin, an understanding of our place in the universe…

Journalists and communicators are adept at conveying these advances.  Not only of science, but of political opinion and sociological insights and up-to-date commentary.  The New is valuable and entertaining and omnipresent.  It is well that we have some of our best minds pursuing and communicating new knowledge and perspectives.

But what of older information?  What of yesterday’s excellent analysis? What of last week’s thoughtful opinion on a challenging issue? What of yesteryear’s breakthrough discovery? On a broader timescale: what of the accumulated wisdom of centuries of human existence?

In the flowing torrent of News, what space is available for knowledge distilled over time?  Less immediate, but perhaps longer lasting? Less sensational, but persistently valuable?

Instead of the news article that announces ‘Chocolate may prevent cancer’, perhaps more useful information regarding health might be to:

“Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” or  “Exercise regularly. Drink plenty of water.” or “Enjoy things in moderation.”

In addition to the headline “Bombing in Iraq kills 131”, we could also benefit from understanding the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or reading Wikileaks cables on the Middle East, or a gentle reminder that Baghdad was the cradle of modern civilisation during Europe’s Dark Ages.

Alongside the article that “Scientists discover the X particle…”  what might also achieve appreciation of nature is the communication that our universe is 13.8 billion years old, that there exist hundreds of billions of observable galaxies in it, that we’re made of stardust, that all life is related.

If medical professionals could communicate 10 pieces of advice on how best to stay healthy, what would they be?  If scientists could communicate their most salient observations of nature, what would they present? If philosophers could communicate their most erudite thoughts on how to live a good life, what would they say?  What would anyone say?

In addition to knowledge, we also find ourselves occasionally seeking advice. Not only the latest advice, but the most valuable advice.  On any range of topics – how to grow tomatoes, how to present at an interview, how to change your car’s oil filter, how to approach a pregnancy, or invest in shares, or build a home, or write code, or nourish friendships, or indeed any topic one could think of.

It’s hard to find this information distilled.   The internet is awash with the latest perspectives and opinions and soundbytes on most issues, but less present is the wisdom of elders, the most appreciated perspectives, and the weighted opinions of humanity.

It is from this gap we launch theknews.org – in support of distilled knowledge and persistent wisdom.

It presents a place to find and contribute the best knuggets of wisdom on any #topic as rated by readers.  The merit of any Knews item is persistent, that is – its value is a measure of accumulated appreciation over time.

Of course the most persistent wisdom, or widespread understanding, or endorsed analysis is not always the best (we will include curated lists in the future…).  But it’s worth being able to discern commonly-held wisdom from the transient thought bubbles in the ceaseless tide of New information.  Where else can we find the accumulated perspectives of humankind?

Knews items are entered similar to a Tweet with the inclusion of hash-tags that link Topics to each Entry.   TheKnews.org presents the most rated entries for each topic, as well as the most trending, and also (with some irony of course) the newest.  In this way, theknews.org is an unholy mixup of Reddit, Twitter, Quora and Wikipedia, with similarities and differences from each.

What The Knews offers however, is a place to find and contribute erudite and persistent wisdom for the future of humanity.

The best way to learn how it works is to check out the site at theknews.org.

In support of distilled knowledge and persistent wisdom.

Niraj Lal, Founder and CEO

– Nick Binnington, Co-Founder and CTO

 

 

How theknews.org works

An example Knews entry would be the pithy advice from Michael Pollan on what to eat:

Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. #health #diet #life @michaelpollan

where the attributed author of the entry (known as a Knewer pronounced ‘canoe-er’) linked the advice to the topics ‘diet’, ‘health’, and ‘life’.

Another might be the adage:

Everything in moderation. #health #life #excess

Where the Knewer contributed it as being relevant to ‘health’ ‘life’ and ‘excess’

Searching theknews.org for “health” would give the results:

  1. Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. #diet #health #life | ↑ ↓   931
  2. Everything in moderation #health #life #excess| ↑ ↓ 79

The arrows present an opportunity for readers to rate the merit of any entry. The Value of each entry is persistent over time; that is, the number represents the weighted opinion of all readers since the entry’s creation.

Similarly for any topic one could think of.

We believe in the value of distilled knowledge and persistent wisdom but also know that it’s worthwhile to be aware of what’s changing and trending and New too.  Each search on theknews.org also retrieves these also.

 

Technical

The back-end of theknews.org is simple, consisting only of a database with the following place-holders:

Entry | Date | (Author) | Topic | Rank | dR/dT | Topic 2 | Rank2 | dR2/dT | Topic 3… |

The ‘Search’ function retrieves entries linked to the Topic and ranks them accordingly.

Additional Topics can be added to an entry at any time.

The dR/dT value allows identification and retrieval of trending Entries and Topics

It’s envisaged that knews.io might directly be populated through Twitter via Tweets labelled with the #knews tag.

 

Funding

theknews.org is a website of the not-for-profit organisation Distilled Knowledge Foundation, registered in Australia: ABN 47652296924. The Foundation  is in the process of registering with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Its aim is to facilitate the sharing and generation of ‘distilled knowledge and persistent wisdom’. Probably the best, most immediate source of this is from people in our community. Following this, local libraries are pretty incredible, as are the varied online resources – Wikipedia is the first, most relevant, website that springs to mind.  Reddit also. But in addition to this are the providers of education and generators of community – both local and global.

In light of this, theknews.org is supported in the first instance by donations, and subsequently, targeted advertising from:

Libraries, Wikimedia projects, Open-Source projects, Education providers and Community organisations, as determined by the Distilled Knowledge Foundation.

This is not to say that for-profit activities are all evil – they’re obviously not. But we feel theknews.org is best suited to give not-for-profit sources of information and education a plug.

Proceeds beyond (publicly-published) operating costs, will be distributed to knowledge sharing organisations as determined by the Distilled Knowledge Foundation.

 

__

Niraj Lal’s launching speech at Falling Walls Lab Australia

Australian Academy of Science, 24 August 2016

Hello everyone, my name is Nij, I’m a physicist working on making solar panels more efficient, but my idea for Falling Walls is different.

It was sparked by me reading a News article that said eating Dark Chocolate might prevent me getting Cancer which sounded great!, but was followed by another that said eating Kinder chocolate might cause cancer.  Which was less good. Or similarly the feature in this week’s Women’s Day that told me drinking wine is actually good for my health, which’d be awesome. But was followed by an article in the Independent that drinking wine is bad for my health.

All of these articles were communicating New findings and New studies, if not complete, at least recent. But I thought, if we were going to communicate 100 words about being healthy, what might we say?

Instead of the news article that announces ‘Chocolate may prevent cancer’, perhaps more useful might be the advice from author Michael Pollan to “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much. “  Or Exercise regularly. Drink plenty of water. Enjoy things in moderation.

And not just on health, but any topic.  Growing tomatoes, or understanding the middle east, or nourishing friendships? What might be the best bits of advice?

It’s hard to find this information distilled.   The internet is awash with the latest opinions and soundbytes and findings. In the torrent of constant New information, what of yesterday’s analysis? Or last week’s thoughtful opinion? On a broader timescale: what of the accumulated wisdom of centuries of human existence?

It is the wall of the Constantly New that we aim bring down, and we’ll do it, not with the New, but The Knews (with a k), things we once Knew. Our startup is Knews.io, not-for-profit, in support of distilled knowledge and persistent wisdom.  It presents a place to find the best information on any topic as rated by the world, accumulated over time.

The way the site works is through the contribution of a knugget of wisdom tagged with its related topics. Searching for ‘health’ brings up knuggets that can be voted up or down.

This is for health, but the same would be for any topic: Appreciating science, accelerating a business, bringing down walls, living a good life. What would we in this room say, what would anyone say?

I’m happy to say that as of this morning, thanks to our CTO Nick Binnington, the website is live – so we in this room have the chance to be amongst the first contributors to the world’s future store of accumulated wisdom, helping to bring down the wall of the Constantly New.

So thank you, and over to you.


 

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