When trying to introduce the Information 4.0 Consortium to a friend, I had problems explaining the who, what and why of its creation.
It is difficult, partially, because it is a very new concept, related to industry 4.0, another term that is still being built around the new industrial revolution. Information 4.0 is still in the process of fixing a definition and a clear objective that can be transmitted with a single, precise sentence. Intuitively, it is an evolution of information 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, even if we don’t really know what these figures mean, or when they started and finished in a diachronic sequence.
Beyond the counting issue, it is a complex problem to explain the notions of function and intention of the Consortium. I finally told my friend that it is a group of expert colleagues who have a strong vision for the future of technology, communication, and human evolution, related to what data, information, and knowledge means for social development. It might sound too vague and abstract, but it is very simple if we realise what colleagues mean, and where this word comes from. It is ultimately related to COL-LEGERE (reading together) and COL-LIGARE (gathering together), from Medieval Latin, two words that bring to mind the long Middle Age period of information secrecy, silent learning, and hidden research.
I cannot stop seeing a certain parallelism between the late medieval communities of writers, copyists and archive curators, and our modern colleagues from the Information 4.0 Consortium. They are somehow cofounders of a new co-working society at the dawn of a great expansion of emerging concepts without precedent. They are interested in bringing clarity to difficult, diffuse ideas, exploring deep learning and smart solutions for complex problems. Colleagues participate both in collegere and colligare, in an empirical exploration of an incipient new world: knowledge and community, concepts and society, techniques and ethics.
I see us in collegere, as in collective reading sessions in ancient monasteries, when communities devoted silent periods of profound reflection to studying secret texts and holy documents together, building knowledge and wisdom. And I admire the group when we work in colligare, coordinating in networks that tie communities together to create a sense of pertinence and engaged belonging. I envision the consortium in an immediate future as planning, organising, and structuring the discourse around Information 4.0, for common problem-solving, and working toward a globally sustainable implementation. In the process, knowledge grows in parallel with the building of social cohesion and collective identity.
What is the Information 4.0 Consortium? As I see it, the Consortium is both a knowledge building team and a community building process, explored by engaged colleagues.