I’ve been putting together the second issue of our quarterly newsletter, the Berkshire Savant, and thinking about why we do things that don’t pay (I should probably think about this more often). Sometimes we do things as public service, and sometimes it’s part of what I claim is a marketing strategy (I am having increasing doubts about my skills as a marketer: everyone tells me I’m good at this, but I am certain that there are people who are much, much better, and I’m trying to hire one of them). But I have put together the new issue of the Savant with another goal: it seems important right now to pull together some ideas about the relationship between technology and knowledge. So this Savant is a kind of dinner party on paper: some stories, some history, and a lot of discussion.
The marketing part of this effort is that it includes extracts from a number of our encyclopedias. The encyclopedia articles take us back in time, to early libraries and all the way back to the development of human communication. And one considers the nature of knowledge. Other pieces–original writing by a variety of experts–bring us to the present with some thoughts about the communications renaissance created by blogs, wikis, RSS, and other collaborative technologies.
A terrific new book that ties into this discussion arrived recently from Dan Burstein. I’ve been reading Blog!, which Dan coauthored, and highly recommend it. Details at BlogRevolt.com. I was especially intrigued by the chapter on Publishers Marketplace, a bloggish website that is taking over, it seems, from the traditional publishing media.