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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Knowledge : Horizontal & Vertical

I read somewhere that vertical knowledge is quickly assimilated; horizontal knowledge takes a lifetime
of dedication. Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes on a very interesting area : horizontal knowledge. He compares the old method of learning things by means like going to libraries and most of the time the knowledge there was spent most of its time on a shelf. He points out that Guinness became a publishing sensation by cashing in on that ignorance. Things are different today where most of human knowledge are at fingertips. One can co-ordinate that sort of information with other people with enormous speed. With email, weblogs, bulletin boards, etc., communities, - a flash constituency can be grouped together with some efforts. He points out that deep down if we assess it is indeed evolutionary in ways that would have defied prediction even a decade ago. Then universal access to practically all information - from all over the place - all for free would not have been even thinkable. Through vertical knowledge, If we had started planning in 1993, we probably wouldn't have gotten here by now. The Web, Wi-Fi, and Google didn't develop and spread because of planning( Vertical Knowledge). They developed, in large part, from the uncoordinated activities of individuals. Wi-Fi is springing up the same way: not as part of a national plan by the Responsible Authorities, but as part of a ground-up movement composed of millions of people who just want it. Lots of smart people, loosely coordinating their actions with each other, have accomplished an extra-ordinary set of things - by applying horizontal knowledge to action. Glen is right in calling this as the power of horizontal, as opposed to vertical knowledge. I agree that this way in this age of discontinuity the next ten years will see revolutions that make Wi-Fi and Google look tame, and that in short order we'll take those for granted, too. It's a safe bet that horizontal knowledge will be in demand for many years to come. .

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