Thursday, August 19, 2004
Commentary on nothing
It turns out there is plenty to say about nothing. Take any encyclopedia. Although the articles all seem to be about things, or identifiable entities (I use the term in its information engineering sense), really they amount to extended attempts to define these entities through drawing boundaries and suggesting relationships with other entities. All these descriptions modularize knowledge and make it portable, but at the cost of losing a lot of information. Imagine an encyclopedia that started rebuilding all the categories from the ground up, such that what you had in the end was a completely alternative explanation of everything in the world that had very little in common with traditional descriptions. What if everyone were educated, not in the details of the received standardized knowledge, but in techniques of compiling their own encyclopedia? Then everyone's lives would be dedicated to writing a commentary on nothing (because they would define for themselves what things existed), and it is quite likely no one's versions of reality would agree. Wouldn't that make for a lot more interesting conversation?