(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘intellectual dark matter

“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten”*…

 

galaxy

 

Many galaxies would fly apart if they had as much mass as estimates based on their visible signature suggest. Although some have posited alternative theories of gravitation to explain this discrepancy, most physicists now hypothesize the existence of mass-bearing particles that are not detectable through emitted radiation such as visible light. We call these particles dark matter, and it is estimated to compose about 85% of all matter in the observable universe.

In analyzing the functional institutions of our society, we are not able to see for ourselves most of the knowledge that created them. Knowledge of this sort includes trade secrets, tacit technical knowledge, private social networks, private intelligence-gathering operations, management and persuasive skill, cooperation and collusion among founders and their allies, and founders’ long-term plans for their institutions.¹

This knowledge has profound effects on the social landscape. We must understand it if we hope to understand society. We therefore must examine intellectual dark matter: knowledge we cannot see publicly, but whose existence we can infer because our institutions would fly apart if the knowledge we see were all there was.² Such intellectual dark matter rests at the foundations of our society, dwarfing in scope and importance the accessible, shareable, visible knowledge on which we normally focus.

There are many forms of intellectual dark matter, but the three principal ones are lost, proprietary, and tacit knowledge…

Knowledge that we can show exists, but cannot directly access, rests at the foundations of society and technology.  Samo Burja explains how– and why it matters: “Intellectual Dark Matter.”

* Marie Antoinette

###

As we contemplate comprehension, we might recall that it was on this date in 1587 that a group led by John White established the Roanoke Colony in what is now Dare County, North Carolina.  It was in fact the second colony there:  in 1585, 107 men had been left to establish a presence on Roanoke Island.  White and his crew were actually sailing to Chesapeake Bay, but stopped to check on the Roanoke group.  When they arrived, they found no one.  The master pilot of the expedition insisted that White and his crew of 115 men and women (re-)found the colony at Roanoke.

After years of difficulty, the group persuaded White to return to England to ask for help.  He did, but was delayed in returning by the on-going war with the Spanish, when he finally returned, in 1590, he found no trace of the colony–all inhabitants, including his grand-daughter, Virginia Dare, the first child born in Roanoke Colony, thus the first England child born in the New World, were gone, leaving behind a single word, “Croatoan,” carved on a tree.  It is believed that they attempted to migrate to Croatoan Island (near Cape Hatteras), and were absorbed into the Croatan tribe there.  In any case the story of the Lost Colony was born…  though it fact, it was the Colony Lost Again.

…one of the chiefe trees or postes at the right side of the entrance had the barke taken off, and 5. foote from the ground in fayre Capitall letters was grauen CROATOAN without any crosse or signe of distresse

-Richard Hakluyt, from his description of the deserted settlement at Roanoke Island, August 18, 1590;  Principal Navigations, Voyages of the English Nation, Vol. III, 1600

White at the tree

 

 

%d bloggers like this: