Semmy: Social knowledge fabrics

Combining Fediverse and Wiki’s

In follow-up to discussion with Mike Hales, @bashrc and @bhaugen as well as Exploring semantic knowledge base solutions some thoughts / brainstorm of what a wiki-like semantic knowledge base might offer that’d add value that existing tools don’t have. Just brainstorming and trying to stay away from the technical parts. Let’s imagine a federated app based on new concepts. called Semmy

What Semmy offers is a: Social Knowledge Fabric

Semmy should be a best-of-both-worlds combination of what makes Wiki’s great, and the social fabric offered by the Fediverse:

  • Wiki: Offers easy navigation through large bodies of information (hyperlinked content)
  • Fediverse: Offers easy social interaction between large amounts of people (federated messages)

(note: that’d be ‘easy’ from an end-user perspective i.e. people and their communities)

Semmy should not compete with Wikipedia, one of the most successful online collaborative projects:

  • Wikipedia: Is an online encyclopedia to document as accurately as possible common human knowledge.
  • Semmy: I imagine this is a social knowledge representation tool. And I want to explore what that means.

Semmy has a number of characteristics:

  • Personal: When I use the tool it represents my view of the world i.e. the stuff that I am most interested in.
  • Collective: My social network of family, friends, acquaintances relate to who I am, and my personal interests.
  • Collaborative: My worldview, my interests, my skills, my wisdom. They all evolve with help of others.
  • Social: The more people meet and anticipate each other’s needs the richer their interaction and ‘yield’.

Semmy is used in the following way:

  • As a personal tool that makes you part of a collective where you collaboratively deepen social bonds.

What you do with Semmy is ‘weaving information’ such that it adds value to your life and connects you to others.


Now I’ll look at some things I do, some needs I have, and problems I encounter …

  • I like the concept of Learning in public. And it is a practice that might benefit others. Life-long learning. Teach and be taught.
  • I practice “weaving in public”: making people aware of each other’s work and on topics that interest me. Encourage collab.
  • I practice “dreamwalking”: pursuing impossible-seeming life goals, but I am content with just progress, Nothing more needed.

As to what I need to make these 3 ever ongoing activities easier:

  • A way to keep track of the ‘fabric’ I’ve already woven, and all the areas where I want to weave some more.
  • Ideally this should be connected to my life goals and aspirations, both short and long-term, and I’d like to see where I am with that.

The most prominent problems I encounter, the hurdles I need to overcome to ease my quest and make more progress:

  • A gobsmacking amount of info overload. I walk a narrow “focus alley” collecting piles of “interest backlogs” along the way.
  • A shattered attention span by all the stimulus thrown at me, that makes reflection and doing deep work harder and harder.
  • A metric ton of wasted time and effort by endlessly copying information around from one channel to the next.

Lastly some observations on things I see around me …

  • The info overload, attention issues, wasted time on menial tasks are universal. Everyone suffers this to certain extent.
  • Numerous initiatives try to tackle this. Note-taking tools, knowledge bases, personal or shared, are popping up daily.

Hauling back to the first two bullets in this post, my feeling is that Wiki’s and Fediverse offer the perfect mix for supportive tools:

  • That are able to scale and include large amounts of people.
  • That are still able to be tailored to the needs of individuals.
  • That can be seamlessly integrated in a large amount of channels.
  • And that can be still intuitive to use on a day-by-day basis.

With all of the above from here I could drill down into more of a use case level. But I rather keep it higher-level for a bit …

  • Knowledge should start ‘reaching out to me’ based on my activities and my social network.
  • I can interact with the knowledge that ‘floats’ around other people in my network, and together we enrich it.
  • Based on my interest for new knowledge I will find new friends that become part of my network.
  • The tools themself don’t matter. They are selected based on personal preference.

As to delving into specific features and functionality it should be clear now that the concepts here open an endless space for all different kinds of tools to exist, and that can integrate and build on top of each other. Just like with the Fediverse in general (and I presume so too in the wiki world) it is the “substrate” that is below these apps that will be the enabler that unlocks all the potential.

So hence I won’t go into specific use cases, but leave it at this for now :hugs:

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IMO that’s still too ambigous to me. Such goal seems to me something that a good social network should be able to satisfy.

I would put it more in the term of organizing/curate (personal or communty) knowledge that may emerge directly in the wiki or in any other (federated) digital tool.
And btw I love how you framed your needs.
I wonder how powerful would be backlinks, hashtags , taxonomies, bookmarks, forking in a growing and diverse federated environment. Being able to create a graph of knowledge that span the single platform/environment to embrace the whole fediverse where conversations may arise and proliferate.
So I can still have conversations on different channels that I find appropriate (forum, chat, social) but I can easily subscribe / participate / reference / bookmark / fork them from my wiki and then curate / organize / structure them - without being lost in eternal copy - paste.

that sounds very digital gardening XD

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You are right. It is missing the part where it says this is in context of ‘weaving knowledge fabrics’. So you might end the sentence with “… while they are ‘gardening’ together”. The idea being that like-minded people with shared interests have natural overlap in their own personal digital gardens. They are neighbors. When they prune a ‘tree of knowledge’ on a subject dear to their heart, they also help me. And if they know me personally they can shape it even better in a way we both like.

Mastodon is a “good social network” but it doesn’t provide any of that. We have interesting discussion, and 4 days later I cannot find it any longer. It is manual labour on all interested parties to copy/paste to ‘mindspace’ elsewhere and follow-up later. Probably in renewed ‘loose-end’ discussion, followed by more manual curation afterwards. On microblogging fedi much (most?) stuff of long-term interest sinks into oblivion really fast.

Yes, this notion is crucial, and also what you mention next, i.e. wiki technologies and federation protocols. As the tools themselves matter much less anymore. The knowledge fabric exists below the tools themself, abstracted away from the tool itself. A wiki software is only a very particular way to present the information that exists in the fabric. The tool helps only to present appropriate UX/UI that surfaces information to you at the right moment and in the proper format to be most useful.

It is digital gardening all the way :smiley:

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Thanks, this is much clearer now esp. this bit:

it sounds like such fabric is made of all the formal/informal agreements of those patterns that may be useful to nurture and grow the fabric itself (eg. protocols like AP, or features like hashtags, classification, forking, liking, voting, etc)
Platform may implement a subset of those patterns to interact with the social fabric according to the platform goals… (just trying to wrap my head around it, I may be totally out of context)

Yes, exactly. And how to bring this Knowledge domain at this protocol level would be a specification effort mostly, where AS/AP vocab extensions come around the corner to. Unlike FEP’s that propose ‘small-ish’ universal protocol extensions (but vital for broad interop) this would be a broader effort that gradually open Fediverse to a new domain.

Very similar to how ForgeFed was intended to open up Fediverse to Code Forges domain (which is not truly a ‘business domain’, but more of an application domain, kind of. In forgefriends community I have proposed we expand the specification effort to encompass the entire Free Software Development Lifecycle, with Forgefriends FSDL).

Note: I have transferred the “Semmy” idea to Discuss Social Coding as its primary location, but further discussion here is fine.