allenc allencheung

Knowledge Rot

I just came across a fascinating observation on the nature of knowledge over time, how it rots and fades despite the rigorous recording, publishing, and indexing of information.

This is a familiar story on a personal level. Pieces of half-completed writings; coding projects that consist of a handful of config files and base functions; musical manuscripts with a few bars of notes defined but otherwise empty lines. The potential may be there to create and to build, but efforts to resume such projects is often defeated by the allure of something new, or at least something that doesn’t require time to re-contextualize.

This sentiment is applicable to areas that feel less like work or self-improvement as well. The Giant Bombcast – a video games podcast – talked recently about how tough it was for the hosts to continue playing through the Witcher 3 (an expansive and deep RPG that boasts over 80 hours of gameplay) after putting it down mid-game. Games, books, and TV series all fall prey to these forces of momentum and knowledge rot, even if they rate less on the discovery or creative axes.

Back to the macro phenomenon suffering advanced mathematics, the irony is that math is considered to be one of the few areas of human knowledge that is universally understood, so much so that spacecraft exiting the solar system have primers that try to create a base level of communications based on mathematics. That math itself faces the ontological problems of communication goes to show perhaps just how complicated these advanced theories have become, or just the imperfection of trying to transcribe abstract ideas into words and equations.

Onward, then, to find that mythological vessel of perfect knowledge transfer.

By allen
allenc allencheung