We are seeing the transformation of knowledge from something that is primarily conveyed in paper formats into something else: a computable graph, in which the knowledge is written in formats that computers can understand and interconnect.

We are seeing the transformation of knowledge from something that is primarily conveyed in paper formats into something else: a computable graph, in which the knowledge is written in formats that computers can understand and interconnect, based on the same technologies that underlie the internet and web. Paper technology simply contains expressions of ideas, but the very technology of paper makes integration of ideas very difficult, if not impossible.

Graphs allow ideas to ‘snap’ together into larger and larger networks, which can in turn allow computers to help us interrogate the knowledge more effectively. There are competing technologies to achieve this, but the idea of ‘the paper’ as the core container for knowledge is dying, and technology will be the killer. This transformation is happening first, like the transformation of documents to the Web, in the sciences.

But this is ‘uncommon knowledge’ – we’ve never dealt with knowledge this way, and it shows. There is a significant amount of legal and technical infrastructure failure to be addressed. And there’s a lot of barn raising to be done.