Tyranny and Democracy of Knowledge
Gordon Baylis, VP for Research, speaking at the 2nd annual
Open Access Week, Oct. 21, 2010
Dr. Baylis stated that research is essential to teaching. He then traced historical components of teaching formed by content (corpus) and the 7 skill sets of the Trivium and Quadrivium in fascinating highlights of the development of knowledge from breakthroughs of hypertext and connectivity (with LOL being the very first letters ever transmitted) to the fact that data is now stored in exabytes. He characterized the initial corpus of knowledge as that which has been balkanized and sub-balkanized over the decades, if not centuries. The amount of data we are faced with leads to a tyranny of access, as in Wikipedia. That site is openly accessible and highly democratic, but questionable in content at times, particularly during election seasons. Google indexes .04% of available content. As educators, we can focus on 4 elements of knowledge: the body of knowledge (corpus); production of knowledge; assessment; and application (how it bears on society’s issues). Peer review takes care of the assessment; beyond that we have to teach people how to assess. His conclusion paved the way for challenging questions and future conversations.