Saturday, June 30, 2007

Update and rambling

I mentioned a while ago that I was thinking of just taking notes on a day's work on the knowledge base and wandering through it. This represents the kind of work I do on it in a day, and illustrates how this organization connects a hierarchical organization, but also gives the user of this knowledge base freedom to ramble. Where I've gone, others may follow. Suggestions from anyone who uses the knowledge base may well influence the decisions I make in developing it.

I started in science, and connected to the Royal Society, one of the oldest learned societies, and a major influence in the development of modern science, which led to a reconsideration of history. For this subject, I decided to go into particular groups and connect to the World History association, which led back to history. I decided to look at material culture, and connect a particular page that I had developed, Communications technology. This, I decided, has roots in science so I went back there. There, I decided that studies of material culture have progressed enough since I wrote that section that I needed to revise the application of it to science entirely. This led to revisiting material culture, and I reached an important development point by adding a page for clothing and dress. I decided material culture had a connection to physical anthropology. This has some connection to geohistory, which I connected to solar system, history, which is so undeveloped that it led back up to science. Continuing the development of science lad to language, which I have hardly looked at for a while. This needed some development of personal studies. I decided to look at its history and push that back to late classical times. I wasn't quite sure how to go about developing that, so I skipped to early medieval times. This led me to considering Pakistan, which let to human geography. Human geography had an almost complete set of subdivision, so to finish it, I added Oceanic Geography. To more fully incorporate this, I went to the next higher level to consider Anthropology. Review of the fundamentals of that subject led to Geohistory. Here, saw that I had another almost complete set of subdivisions and I could add Precambrian geology. This led back up to Geology, which needed a connection to the structure of matter, which needed a connection to quantum physics, which needed a connection to nonrigid mechanics, which I connected to Sociology. I decided to approach this by examining some of its early roots in middle preahistory. This led back into physical anthropology, which this time I pursued into its roots in study of the human body. The human body has a partial set of subdivisions, so I stopped to add human disease, and back up to personal studies again. This time, I decided to push the connections to history back further into early classical, which led into biographies. I had decided earlier that I needed to start adding more biographies, so I added a page for Napoleon. Biographies connect somewhat to social foundations, and here I added a new page for social control. This led back up to Anthropology, which this time I connected to ecology, and I added a new page for system ecology. Taking this back up to biology, I decided that I could start pushing its history a little but further back, and connected to the 18th century, which I referred back to biography. The next entry to be added to that list was Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Here I decided to start checking Late medieval history to be sure that everyone who should have been added by now has been. This led to Martin Luther. Luther I connected to the social institutions, and here I decided to go back to the beginnings and connect this to middle prehistory. Middle prehistory could be connected to human ecology as the next logical step, and here things begin to get a bit tricky, because I really don't like the way I had divided human ecology anymore. This page was old enough and my general approach has changed since I last worked on it, so I rewrote the biology section again. This let back to biology, and I took this back to the 17th century, which led back to biography and the addition of a page for William Morton. I decided that since I'm using the application of history to biography as a method of searching the biographical list, I don't need to link biography directly to either history or classical and medieval history, since these now no longer have direct connections to individuals. Historical individuals have long been distributed to the particular periods, and now, so have classical and medieval individuals. Early classical, late classical, early medieval, and late medieval history now each have a set of prominent individuals. That wound up the day's work.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Site upgrade, which hosts the Sapience Knowledge Base, just offered a deal for full service that was too good to pass up, which is going to let me add some features that should make it more interesting. Before I publish the current version, I want to get the site map current.
I've started to revive my other active blog, From the Ground as a political/current events blog, so I've been doing a little work on that, somewhat at the expense of this one, but I haven't dropped work on it.

I decided that no version of the planned approach was working well, so for now, I'm just going to let the SKB just grow naturally and see what happens. So far, that's resulting in more developments in science, in areas that I have neglected, and it's occurred to me that, rather than providing dry summaries, it may be more interesting to any potential readers to describe some of my meandering progress.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I keep experimenting with different approaches to building and expanding the knowledge base, because no one of them works all the time. I had about given up on a bottom-up approach, but I thought I'd give it another try.

There is a lot to be said for simple appreciation of nature. Going for a walk outdoors, seeking the sky clouds, sun, moon (if it's up), trees, grass, birds, bugs, and small animals, the breeze... All these are ways of experiencing and appreciating nature. Every day, even every hour, brings its own new experiences. All the various parts and facets of nature seem to be woven together, almost in one seamless web., and this overall, or holistic view, is an important part of understanding and appreciating nature.
But, for the purposes of science, it's necessary to focus on one thing at a time, and by convention it's useful to group things that are similar in some way together. The trees, grass, birds, bugs, and small animals, we recognize as living things. Even the sticks of wood that have fallen from the trees, we recognize as once having been living, and for a time we focus on them and call the subject biology.
The ground we walk on, the clouds, the breeze, and any streams that may happen to be flowing nearby, we recognize as nonliving, and are part of earth science.
The sun and moon belong to astronomy.
There are two more branches of science, which are less obvious: The substances things are made of is considered as part of chemistry, and heat and warmth, and light and darkness, and sound are considered to belong to physics.
What's often missing in education is the ability, once we have isolated and analyzed all these things and taken them apart, is bringing them back together and appreciating the whole.

Also, there is the fact that the study of nature is a human activity, performed by people, acting in society. The tools, ideas, and occupations that scientists use and follow, the social institutions, the communities and peoples that produce them, and the history of the whole scientific enterprise are also connected, so that the whole can be overwhelming to contemplate. So, I go back to looking at one small piece at a time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Slow grind

For some times I've been frustrated with the emphasis on the form of history and sociology, but limited content, and I've been looking for a way to balance out the developments. For instance, history depends rather heavily on biographies, but I've been doing fine divisions of history and now working on biographies at all. So, I've mades some adjustments, and the situation seens to be improving.

Apparently *someone* is reading this blog...I got a comment from a reader. I'm just going to raise an eyebrow at the apparent claim of superiority of Hard Knocks U. to any other. (Speaking as an alumnus of HKU myself). And wonder which "we" he is speaking of that no longer sees any value in sociology. And wonder what the use or non-use of guns has to do with anything I've been writing about.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Global society

It's been something of a frustrating week, as my various possible schemes for developing the knowledge base keep conflicting with each other. But I am making progress, of a sort: the top-down approach is penetrating into the middle levels.
There still isn't much new in history at any level. The problem is principally that at this stage, I'm still connecting to fairly high-level abstract topics instead of getting down to the details that make a subject more interesting and colorful.
Likewise, there isn't a great deal new in the subject of sociology. In order to make real progress in considering peoples of the world, I need to bring particular nations back into the development guide. In the area of social structure and change, I have managed to get started on the general theme of the industrial revolution and its various subdivisions and associated movements.
Most of the progress has come in institutions, enough that I'm starting to see the outlines of global society. At this point, there is limited progress on the major religions of the world, since these have already been developed to a certain extent. There has been a little bit more progress in government, particularly international government. Economics has been progressing more slowly, but I'm starting to bring in some major corporations. I've also begun to identify major universities. I haven't identified any families of worldwide scope or influence.
There still hasn't been as much noteworthy development in other areas, but there has been some progress.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


As well as trying to be comprehensive, I also mean my knowledge base to be useful. A couple of times lately, I've tried taking a particular news story and analyzed it a bit. Take, for instance, the story of the bombing a mosque in Baghdad, Iraq, by suspected al-Qaeda members. This item might have been filed under History-Modern History-20th century-Early 21st century-Late 2000s-2007-2nd quarter-June. It might have also been filed under Sociology-Peoples-Asiatic Peoples-Middle East, or Sociology-Peoples-Nations-Iraq, or Sociology-Communities-Baghdad. Or, Institutions-Religion-Particular Religion-Abrahamic Religion-Islam. Or Culture-Behavioral culture-Cultural events=Disasters. Or, Culture-Material culture-Buildings. Or, Anthropology-Particular groups-al Qaeda. But most of these subjects are not quite developed this far, and if they are, they aren't yet well enough connected to each other.
A great deal of the development of the knowledge base has been driven more or less internally and more or less mechanically. However, in the interest of making it more useful, I'm going to be using more external cues.
I don't have a specific report on what new pages have been added or developed recently, but there have been some. For instance, I now have a page on the United Nations, which is something I've been aiming for for a while.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back again

No, there haven't been any disasters. I've just been sidetracked for the past couple of weeks.
For one, I got in a debate with some feminists on a mailing list, which ate practically a whole weekend. and then I decided that my development guide wasn't working the way I wanted it to, and started it over. It's still not entirely caught up to where I had it, but it's close enough that I'm generating new links, as well as getting around to some topics that have been waiting forever for me to even touch.

History is not greatly changed. There is still a distinct emphasis on modern history with a secondary emphasis on classical and medieval history. Within modern history, there is a significant emphasis on the last two centuries, and in the last century, mostly on the last 30 years. I am giving a bit more attention to the future.
The emphasis on what I call sociology is being shifted. I've put a lot of emphasis on development of particular nations in the past few months, until I found that the nations I was most interested were too recently added and too far down the list for me to get to, and plan for developing them was too rigid and inflexible. So, now, I have fewer nations scheduled for development, but more emphasis on the major groups of people. Western civilization and Asiatic peoples, are the predominant groups. I also decided that my list of cities wasn't adding much, so this has been rather toned down. On the other hand, the investigation of social structure and change has developed well in the last few months, so It's getting a more prominent role.
I'm also giving more attention to the institutional areas; more religion and government that I had. I'd like to flatten this out a bit more, with attention to economics, education, and families, but that should begin to happen as more areas are better developed.
One of the developments I'm most pleased with is that some long-dormant areas are starting to be reactivated. Sports is a subject I've been avoiding, since I have no great personal interest in them. Quite some time ago a friend who is an engineer asked where I was going to put a section on that: Now I have a more specific answer. Math is another area I've been avoiding, for a different reason, in spite of the fact that I am very much interested in it, and that's showed up on my development list. Literature promises to show up soon, and various forms of physical objects should also start appearing.
Another area I've neglected for a while, simply because I didn't know much about it, is various parts of what I call anthropology, but that's about to be fully included.
Personal studies are also being brought in. I consider this to be one of the more interesting developments, because a lot of history, society, institutions, culture, and so forth is linked to biography. When I started working on this version of the Knowledge base, I build a lot of it on biographies, and then I shifted away from that approach, so I will be glad to get these worked back in.
Science is another area I am anxious to get included, because I have a lot of personal interest in it. However, I've found that there is a whole lot more to the world (at least, the human world) than science accounts for, and I've been scrambling to catch up in everything else. But that, too, is getting worked in.