the structure of knowledge

27 03 2009

Structure of Science
Via Kevin Kelly, a rather nifty map of scientific knowledge, as determined by citations within journal articles.   And here’s a (slightly less readable) map of knowledge relationships as determined by “clickage,” or clicks from one reference source to another:

MapofScience

What I find striking about these two maps – aside from their innate coolness – is the fact that neither of them links into any of the liberal arts.  There is plenty of linkage to the social sciences – more, in fact, than I might have expected – but nothing regarding literature or the visual arts.  As far as the “maps” are concerned, art and science exist in completely different worlds.

“Art is the tree of life,” said William Blake, “science is the tree of death.”  That’s not a widely held belief these days.  And the Internet, for example, is nothing if not an amalgam of technology, literature, and graphic art.

C. P. Snow’s observations about the “two cultures” aren’t considered relevant by too many people these days.  Even Snow backed off them quite a bit.  Yet here’s a map that suggests he may not have been too far off the mark, at least in terms of the intersection of two academic worlds.  Some of my favorite art works take place where these two worlds collide.

“It is not down in any map,” Herman Melville wrote.  “True places never are.”

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