Friday, October 15, 2004
Non-Linear Knowledge Management
Most of the world's computer users store electronic information in linear hierarchies - files stored in folders, folders within folders. To find something you take a linear path, usually starting out at "My Documents," and drilling down through folders to find a document you want. Network files, favorites, music files, etc. also follow this linear pattern. You can certainly create shortcuts to quickly jump from one location to another but it's still inside the overall linear system.
The World Wide Web has introduced us to non-linear information retrieval patterns. A company at www.thebrain.com would like to introduce us to the concept of of non-linear file storage. The field is only in its infancy, but it offers intriguing possibilities. In addition to a personal brain for individuals, thebrain.com is really targeting enterprise-level management of knowledge for institutions. It aims to bring the nonlinear nature of the web to the way information gets stored on an institution's intranet. If you've ever visited the visual thesaurus, thebrain is a similar interface. There are spheres of related items floating in space. When you select an item, it comes to the forefront, and links that relate to it float closer to you.