Saturday, July 5, 2014

McNeely and Wolverton, 2008, Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet (education)

This is a fascinating read about the evolution of the institutions that preserved and expanded knowledge from Ptolemy’s time to the present. The major institutions were: the library; the monastery; the university; the Republic of Letters; the disciplines; and the laboratory.  McNeely and Wolverton argue that each of these institutions fundamentally re-invented knowledge - the way it was conceived, developed, stored, and transmitted.  I don’t think the lines between the institutions are as sharp as they make them in the successive chapters, but the distinctions are useful.  The ascendancy of the laboratory in the 20th Century is only true for the experimental disciplines, and the university department (combining the “discipline” with a university home) became the institution that generated and promulgated new knowledge (and still serves as gatekeeper to publication) in the social sciences and humanities.  My primary interest in this relates to the emergence of security knowledge and the role of university-like security institutions, including staff colleges, and military and police academies, which have to assemble and deliver curricula for professional development.  
(also posted on Amazon)
David Last, 15 Feb 2013

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