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talking to people


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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In a post called, I am fed up with hiding myself, Mita Williams concludes that academic writing removes authors from their work by turning them into ‘sources’ and ‘references’ and that large language models are doing the same, but making authors even further removed from their work.

In writing this post, I’ve come to realize that the concerns here dovetail with a long-standing bugbear of mine: that libraries overemphasize authority from sources, and does not do enough to support bibliography, a format in which authority derives from people and their choices.

In a separate post, Williams states that, “The alternative to AI is talking to other people.” —Mita Williams 2023-09-19

This got me thinking about personal knowledge mastery. It is an alternative to AI. The Seek > Sense > Share framework is based on connections not just with knowledge and information, but most importantly, people. As I wrote in 2022, we are in an information war — one that pits logic and emotion against each other. Two powerful weapons used against us by the social media algorithms are ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’. To counter these influences, we each have a more powerful weapon — our own commentary. This is the power of blogs. A single blog, in a network of peers, can have much influence.

“I keep thinking I should write another book.
I keep thinking I should write poetry.
In the meantime, without any should, I blog.
I am a blogger.
That should be enough.”

Euan Semple

Writing a blog can be an important sensemaking tool and is core to my personal knowledge mastery discipline. PKM and blogging are ways to model the behaviours of an engaged citizen of the world and counter the platform monopolists and forces of agnotologythe study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour. But mostly, blogging is having conversations with other people.

Perhaps this is one of the big challenges that AI presents us — connecting with people, not machines, for our sensemaking.

“I am fed up with hiding myself, an actual human being, behind the conventional anonymity of scholarly authorship.”—Stafford Beer (1995) Platform for Change

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