We blogged about our mission a couple years ago, and it has been fascinating to see how our understanding has grown over time.
All that we do in this company is motivated by our mission, which is:
To open up the knowledge of the world, so that light and understanding will be more accessible to everyone.
We live in the information age. Why does knowledge need to be opened up?
Knowledge is trapped right now in books, on the Web, and in people’s heads. If our goal is to make light and understanding more accessible to everyone, we need more than access to books, libraries and other repositories of knowledge. We need to lower or remove barriers to the transfer of knowledge from one person to another. Transferring knowledge is harder than it needs to be, often requiring a lot of explanatory background information because the connections in logic of a particular nugget of knowledge are not linear. Research, at its essence, is simply structured learning, and is the process of connecting pieces of information together to create a new nugget of knowledge. We need easier ways to share these nuggets of knowledge. We also need to be able to share knowledge in more open, personal ways. Knowledge needs to be accessible in whatever way people think.
A library in France is a good metaphor for how knowledge is trapped and inaccessible right now. If you look at the picture below, you notice that this library, officially named La Tête au Carré (The Square Head), looks like a well-formed classical bust, up to the bottom lip. The rest is obscured by the opaque aluminum block that is the top four stories of the library. Because it is covered with finely perforated aluminum mesh, nobody can see into the library from the outside, but the people inside can see out. It’s hard to tell whether the library is depicting someone male or female, old or young, happy or sad. Neither can you tell what is in his or her mind, nor what he or she is thinking.