Friday, May 15, 2009

I love my job

Even though it doesn't pay a dime, and never has.

My principal job, or hobby if you prefer, is a self-imposed one of bringing together a compilation of knowledge in a digestible form. I've been working at least a little bit on the Knowledge Base six days a week for the last couple of years. Although a lot of it has seemed boring and mechanical, there are times when I can glimpse enough of the vision to keep me going.

Recently, on my Independent Learning Blog, I've been keeping track of my work on the base, just in case anyone is interested in seeing what I'm doing. From what I can tell, that doesn't amount to very many people. On days like today, however, I feel like telling the world what I'm doing.

One subject that has absorbed a great deal of my attention is world history. That's from the beginning of humankind to today, and into the future. Even thought he beginning is not clearly known and the future hasn't happened yet. I have it divided into slices, because you can't cover everything at once, but it's really one continuous tale. I have a general outline, and my progress consists of filling in the gaps and the details. Those gaps and details are important, because sometimes a single moment can change a larger part of history than we can predict, so there's always a need for more work.

One of the things that's been holding me back, oddly enough is a self-imposed limitation. I've been adding nations to the knowledge base in fairly strict order of present population, which works well for recent history, but increasingly badly as I go back in time. Just for an example, Greece and Portugal are fairly close in population and fairly far down the list. Neither one is especially prominent in world affairs today. But, go back five centuries, and Portugal ruled the first modern colonial empire, and its absence creates a gaping hole in the 16th century. Go back two thousand years, and you can hardly mention the classical period without discussing Greece. Just getting to the point of including them is an achievement.
(Just so long as you don't ask the Knowledge Base what was going on in Portugal in 1509 or Greece, in 9 AD...I haven't gotten that far yet, which sort of deflates the bubble of euphoria). Just having the link is a big step. As another for instance, I now have an outline of how Western Europe is linked to modern nations of Africa. (Again, just don't ask which African Colonies were French and which were British, and when they became independent, let alone why, I haven't gotten that fair yet).

There have been lots of moments of achievement like this, and there will certainly be many more. Sometimes, just enough to keep me slogging ahead.

I still don't have a clear answer to the question of what this is all good for.
(shsh), But I believe there are answers and I'm getting closer to them.

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