On Knowledge

Knowledge. The original reason for this blog. I need not say anything about knowledge because the word itself completes its sentence. What I however need to write about, is free, the purpose of this blog. Put the two together, and what you get, is free knowledge. It all started in a very small way, back in 2002. There was a couplet of Bartruhari in our Sanskrit textbook, that left a lasting impression on my mind. I cannot obviously type the Devanagri version here properly, and so I make do with providing the simplest English translation of it;

“Oh Goddess of Knowledge, how wonderful is your wealth,
It multiplies on spending, and perishes when hoarded.”

It left me thinking of the nature of knowledge as a commodity, being an Economics student then. I found that the concept of spending leading to increased economic activity held more truth for knowledge than economics.This kindled in me the desire to make sure that whatever knowledge I had gained was passed on freely to anyone who was interested in the same. After all, almost all of the knowledge I got was almost for free, and just because I paid for the rest of it doesn’t mean everybody else has to. I probably paid for that portion of my knowledge because I could afford to, what of those who cannot afford to, should they be denied the knowledge because they are too poor for it?

Is knowledge a privilege of the rich? Is knowledge an asset only of those creative? These thoughts led me to determine to spend some part of my life advocating the cause of spreading knowledge freely to all that seek it. A knowledge without ownership, a knowledge without cost.

For society to improve and develop, there are two things that fundamentally hinder progress. The lack of new developments, and the lack of awareness of existent knowledge. It is my belief that if the second is worked upon, it most often leads to improvement in the first. That way both improve, leading to an improvement of society as a whole. Unfortunately, the people who can impart the existent knowledge have put many a barriers, some of them formidable, between knowledge and the common man. I was at a loss, about how to counter the tide.

It was then that I heard of the OSI and FOSS. Needless to say, I began to try and replace every piece of software I used with an Open Source alternative, and began recommending(actually forcibly pushing) ones that I had used to a lot of my friends and acquaintances. I began converting a lot of my friends to atleast try out OS-OS(Open Source – Operating Systems) and then take a decision. Some have, some haven’t, but atleast the effort was worth it.

The reason I went about doing this was quite simple. Freedom and Development. Having the source that makes an application frees you from having to wait for the original developer to release patches and fix bugs, something you could yourself do if you knew how. Having the source lets you make improvements to the code yourself, to suit your requirements and sensibilities, and helps bring in more advanced customisations to he product itself. Having the source, helps bring in a thousand more people to work on the project, thus bringing in far better features and improvisations, ultimately leading to the benefit of every user.

While I still continue this effort even today, I was feeling bad that all this had to do with software. All this talk about open source, was for programs that could be only run on pieces of silicon. What about that vast ocean of knowledge that isn’t in the domain called software? What about setting it all free? This fire was specially kindled, when from time to time, recently I happened to come across many of my friends’ blogs that stated terms like ‘Creative Commons‘ and ‘CopyScape‘. I did my usual search on them and found them to be theoretically free, almost to the last bit, but then, not completely. They still had those last vestiges of restraints on them.

It was at such a juncture, that I happened to come across LibreKnowledge a few days back. In fact it was this discovery that turned my procrastination into action. I immediately set about designing a logo for all those who were free, those who wished to spread knowledge freely without any shackles, something that those who support LibreKnowledge would be proud to display, proud to be a part of. And so began this blog. A place for all those who wish to give away, the fruits of their efforts, because they feel the work itself was the reward.

More details about the logo or concept itself can be found on the Seekers page.

3 thoughts on “On Knowledge

  1. Knowledge when shared free to those people who value it and if it can add value to their lives in what ever terms is really good… But not every time it is possible to share it for free unless we have more and more people into philanthropy, to support the cause.

  2. Point taken.

    Firstly yes, only when people value knowledge can it be properly put to use, irrespective of whether the acquisition was free or otherwise. there have been many cases of free education that has been improperly imparted or imparted to people who do not value it enough, resulting in zilch or in some cases anti-socialism. A case in point is the “free” primary education system run by the Government of India and the various State Governments.

    Secondly, yes it is not possible to support the burgeoning school-going population as well as maintain quality, when the revenue is nil, unless like you said, more and more people get into philanthropy.

    However, I would like to put forward the following thoughts on this matter;

    Firstly, I was not referring to the education system anywhere in this post. I have referred to the education-system being free elsewhere on this page http://onesinglecandle.wordpress.com/about/

    and have specifically not mentioned it in this post for the simple reason that though I have received free education, I don’t believe with all my heart that the quality of education I have been lucky to receive can be matched if the same is provided on a much larger scale, after all teachers don’t come off a factory assembly line.

    Having said that, let me point that although the Government has failed in its task, it is not too much of a fantasy to suggest that large corporations adopt a certain number of schools in every district and maintain and run them, free of cost, in return for certain tax concessions(i.e. upto the amount that the Government itself would have spent on such an exercise). While it would ensure that education remained free, it would also bring into picture the quality of education, because of the image of the corporations concerned.

    Secondly, I was only referring to the free knowledge of works authored by people. Meaning the many sites where people post their views, opinions, stories, poems, research work etc. I wanted this to be movement where even things like stories and research work can be free for everybody to replicate or reproduce in whatever form they want.

  3. Hi,

    I agree that knowledge should be spread and the daat should be transferred from mind to mind to generate some prodcutive impulse and will help every individual to grow individually for their own goals etc this is my version when i am talking from a learner point of view. But to be business concern apart from knowledge sharring products that are churrned out after a creative fight from a group of talents. Simply copying such type of creative wrok for dupliccation for small amount of revenue is that should be appreciated.

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