General thinking on knowledge

Knowledge is a tool, we can view knowledge as a scaffolding for people in a community of practitioners, or sometimes a frame for way-finding, or a guide for the road beneath our feet.

The reason I use the word “scaffolding” is that: scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support people, while knowledge is changing, no well defined boundaries esp. in the edge of researches, it is an emerging thing. It is a scaffolding not only for problem-solving, but also for the self organization of the community, in the book Oregon Experiment by Christopher Alexander this idea was well expressed.

Some people may think knowledge is something solid, I will reveal something interesting but contradicted with the idea by the way-finding example.

Nowadays, people use the four words – east, south, west and north – freely in their daily life. But if you take a thorough study for the concepts, you will find the invention of these words need a lot of observation and thinking – the movement of sun and stars during a day and a year. People invented them several thousands or even ten thousands years ago. We can image the skill to find the directions must be mandatory for our ancestors who were hunting in the wild. But several thousands years later, people began to build villages, and then cities. At least in some part of the earth, cities were build with streets arranged in a precise direction of east-west or south-north. These purely ideas from way-finding began to solidify into the artifact by people. For the new generations in the cities, they were in an environment the four direction were well defined, and most of them gradually lost the skills to decide a direction in the wild, but equipped with new skills for way-finding in the jungle of buildings. Same concept, but different personal experience among generations.

About the guide for the road beneath our feet, I mean education and growth. But I leave the topic untouched right now.

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