Ubiquitous Computing, Periphery, and Knowledge Management

This link to an article on Micah's weblog came to me via Bruce Landon's Weblog for Students. The summary is a nice overview of how peripheral knowledge (i.e., not "core") helps us to understand our way through the world.

First, the more the periphery is engaged, the smarter we are . No amount of conscious working out can replace the intuitions of the expert. The smartest people are the ones who have built up the thickest periphery, and can apply it quickly to new problems. A fully engaged periphery also goes by the name of "flow state", familiar to athletes.

Second, we are constantly moving items into and out of the periphery . Millisecond by millisecond what was just periphery becomes center, and then back again. To move perception in and out quickly is a source of great power and comfort.

Third, take the periphery away and we are crippled . Imagine looking at the world through narrow tubes taped to our eyes, blocking peripheral vision: you would stumble, and be constantly surprised, and tire quickly. Digital technology in the PC is like those tubes: it presents a view excessively stripped of periphery.

Now, for me, that gives some perspective on the value of things like "code smells" and intuition - it's just my periphery kicking in and helping me (subconsciously?) add context to what I'm seeing/doing/reading/... Beefing up your periphery would enable you to access a broader range of contexts - intuition kicks in more often.

The other interesting thing that popped into my head is this: A weblog may be a way for me to manage my peripheral knowledge. Note, I didn't say share my peripheral knowledge, since I firmly believe that knowledge can't be shared, but I can use a weblog as an external personal tool to internally manage my own knowledge (core, peripheral, superfluous, ....)

ps. check out the linked article for some great diagrams of the spread of messages, genes, etc...

See Also