Connections Are Everything

George Siemens, elearnspace, Apr 30, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Strictly speaking, the suggestion that "connections are everything" is incorrect. Connective knowledge is just one type of knowledge. I have in the past compared it to other types of knowledge as follows:

- qualitative knowledge - our perceptions and understandings about the sensory properties of things - colours, shapes, weights, tastes, and the like. "Qualitative knowledge" includes knowledge of relations (bigger than, closer than), etc.)
- quantitative knowledge - our perceptions and understandings about numbers of things, including simple counting, but also measurement, algebra, set theory, and ratios.
- connective knowledge - our perceptions and understandings about patterns and similarities that result from the connection of objects with each other, through association.

In society, our networks of connections instantiate the third type of knowledge, by creating patterns of information flow, which results in social knowledge (much of it implicit, as it is very difficult to be in a position to recognize such knowledge). Simply knowing who to call to get an answer to a question is a very basic instance of this, and it would be a disservice to say either that (a) other types of knowledge are unimportant, and (b) this type of knowledge is 'everything'.
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