Discovering The Graph

Discovering The Graph

You’ve probably heard a version of a quote like this before.

“The world we’re living in today is highly complex, interconnected, and constantly changing. Oh, and it’s only getting faster and more complex by the hour, if not the minute.”

It’s not a new thought that things are changing and that changes are happening faster and faster. It’s an old thought that’s been around for at least the past 200+ years, if not more.

But as our world grows in complexity and computers accelerate our lives, we are finding more and more ways to create data and information and it’s becoming overwhelming. An example: there is so much video being uploaded to YouTube every single day that you can not even watch all the videos that have been uploaded today. The same goes for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and others. The amount of data each of us has is not only constantly growing, but so is the amount that it grows by. In other words, the speed at which we create more information today is in itself already on track to overwhelm us. Companies and startups have dealt with this problem for years and most struggle to handle it at all even today, so just imagine how each of us fairs as we make the problem worse for our selves.

We live in a time of Peak TV, yet it’s not just TV. It’s social media posts, YouTube videos, movies, books, songs, pieces of art, places to visit, and people to meet. Some of those things have been overwhelming far before technology and some have become new issues for us to confront.

With so much data all around us, let alone the data we create ourselves, we must find new ways to understand and grasp it so it doesn’t go to waste and we do not waste our precious time. A lot of effort has been made to understand this data for companies, but very little has been done for the individual. We, as individuals, must develop ways to organize and categorize the information we create or find so we can understand the bigger picture. And once we have the bigger picture we can go deep on what matters to the moment.

The Graph

Luckily, while we live in a time with overwhelming new sources of data, we can use the tools which created that overwhelming feeling to help us get through it all.

Think of what you do for work (or school). Now imagine a word cloud (like you’d see on blogs a few years ago) and think of all the concepts in your work that you know. For me, that’s a bit overwhelming because I’m a developer. Not only is my field a huge field, but I happen to know quite a lot about it so I imagine a huge word cloud and I know that what I’m picturing is still only a fragment of what I could know. Putting all that in my mind or on a screen is very hard the way most people approach organizing what they know.

All these words in that cloud are connected in some way beyond just that they’re in the same industry. JavaScript is related to Chrome. Chrome is related to C++. C++ is related to JavaScript.

I often imagine all the things I know visually as a graph with each idea being a point and lines connecting each related idea together. In a lot of ways all the information we know is connected in similar ways and there are even connections across areas. Computer knowledge is connected to most things these days. Sometimes ideas from biology or physics make it back in to computer science in a completely different context.

I like to take this idea of a graph and extending with an analogy of cities for each major topic where each set of ideas is a place in those cities. In a lot of ways we discover or create new ideas the same way we discover and explore new places. Complex and well understood ideas are the mega cities of our knowledge where many other ideas find their basis. Others are far off in the wilderness and highly underdeveloped.

I believe that figuring out ways to store what we know in parts and linking out thoughts together, like a graph, is the best way for us to understand what we know, save our knowledge for others, and discover new things between topics we hadn’t seen.

This blog

And so, that is the purpose of this blog. I want to figure out how to explore, discover, create, and curate my knowledge graph. And I want to share that with others so that I can help you, the reader, discover the graph of your own knowledge and help you cultivate it.

As with everything these days, there is so much information out there from others with the same thoughts that just needs finding and understanding but there is also a lot to discover and build to make ourselves more productive and creative.

We have a lot of work to do, but, as always, I’m very optimistic that we will find and build the solution we need to learn and grow.