"The pursuit of human knowledge has a shape."

leamirella's picture

In my computer science class, we have started to look at data visualizations and my professor showed us this one in class on Thursday:

I thought it looked really cool but when I looked at it for a second time in my dorm room, I realized that there is something crucially wrong with this data visualization.

First of all, the article it appears in begins with "the pursuit of knowledge now has a shape". As a humanist, I found that rather insulting because it does not allow for the recognition of subjects such as English, History, Media Studies etc. which are fields that also build to someone's knowledge.

Secondly, I struggle with the labels or types that they have put on the sciences and the links that they have made between them. Sure, they number-crunched by looking at "more than a billion user interactions on scholarly databases" but showing links between "disciplines" in this way does not take into account interactions that occur outside of scholarly databases and also, off-line. Additionally, it seems really interesting to be that they've drawn such strict boundaries between the disciplines - I'm not quite sure that each individual discipline is quite as clear-cut as this visualization presents.

I also don't know if you can really collect statistical data about "knowledge". Knowledge in and of itself is quite an ambiguous term and I feel as though it seems limiting to attempt to define it by statistical data.

Comments

Ayla's picture

Your offense at the exclusion of humanities

It struck me when reading your post when you said, "As a humanist, I found that rather insulting because it does not allow for the recognition of subjects such as English, History, Media Studies etc. which are fields that also build to someone's knowledge."  I'm sorry you were insulted - and I was surprised as well that some of these fields were not included.  Quickly, though I thought, Oh they mean universal knowledge, or an abstract term "knowledge."  So, I thought exactly what you said - humanities often contribute to building a person and enriching their own knowledge.  While the fields listed in the diagram contribute to the general knowledge sphere.  However, history, I think should be in the diagram.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.