It is impossible to overstate the significance of the western scientific method or its impact in driving human innovation. However there is a side effect of this method that is concerning. It’s been called the siloing effect, or the tragedy of the drill holes. You are probably familiar with it, but it looks a little something like this: in order to make tremendous advancements in nano-technology or information technology (just for example), individuals inevitably spend their entire careers drilling down into the silo of one particular discipline. Within this particular field everyone speaks one language- with a certain set of terms and common practices of relating. The tragedy comes as we lose the ability to speak to our friends in neighboring silos. With each academic and professional discipline possessing it’s own language and culture, the deeper down you drill into your own field, the harder it becomes to climb out of the drill hole and communicate with the rest of the world.
Sustainability is forcing us to confront this problem. No single breakthrough will comprehensively address our current sustainability challenge. We need to collaborate and innovate on a scale never seen before, across disciplines, in order to find a new way forward. However the drill-holes in which all of us separately operate make that a tremendous challenge. Often when you try and work across disciplines (for example- an engineer with an economist) the language and cultural barriers become literally insurmountable.
This is a challenge we face daily here at Open-Sustainability. The world of Information Knowledge Management has progressed with leaps and bounds. Those advancing the field are so successful in their efforts, that many of us benefiting are actually unaware of the discipline, and completely oblivious when it comes to the terms and tools driving the field forward. But Information knowledge management is ESSENTIAL to finding a sustainable path forward. In fact, many have argued an inability to share and comprehend all the data at hand is the largest barrier to finding innovative, practical sustainability solutions.
Open-Sustainability is hoping to straddle the divide between the important field of information knowledge management and hard working sustainability practitioners- people who have spent years studying the environmental and social manifestations of unsustainable behavior, and creating frameworks and guidelines for a sustainable path forward. However it’s not an easy task. We’re always exploring new ways of making this resource as rigorous and deep as is needed to be a comprehensive information management framework as well as sustainability framework, without getting lost in the terminology of our separate drill holes.
Any and all suggestions on addressing this challenge are greatly appreciated.