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State of Year Of Understanding.

I have a dream of being able to help organise a Year Of Understanding. Here is my pitch document at this early stage, mostly for internal use.




The Year Of Understanding, 2014



If there is one single thing the world needs today it’s increased understanding of the issue facing us in science, finance, culture, technology, medicine, environmental and faith and spirituality. We believe that focus on ‘understanding’, in itself – not just information, can have a marked positive effect.

There is enough selling of positions and beliefs, there is too much of defending of current understanding without the freedom to expand and increase understanding and wash away misunderstanding.

The goal would be to end the year with a measurable increase in the public’s understanding of the world and of each other.

Exactly what would happen and how is very much up for discussion with the partner organizations but here is an outline of suggestions and possibilities.

The inspiration was the Olympics and Paralympics, particularly the opening and closing ceremonies. The celebration of striving and victory was beautiful and inspiring. Why not celebrate understanding the same way? Why not have a full year of understanding with ceremonies, exhibitions, talks and dialog, all based around the goal of increasing our understanding of each other and our world!

We aim to get government to declare 2014 the Year Of Understanding and to institutions all over the world to focus their events and exhibitions with the aim of increasing understanding. 



Themes can include science, technology, nature, health, environment, faith, cultures & art.

Showing off is one thing. Learning dry material in a classroom can be uninspiring. Having a full year where the theme is Understanding can be enlivening.


Seminars & Exhibitions

The program would include a series of seminars from notable, well known individuals each based around a theme. Candidates we will approach include Stephen Fry and Brian Cox.

Events should all be available to the public in person as well as over the internet.

Exhibitions at major institutions will be tuned to support the themes.

Both high and low technology will be employed as appropriate, including innovative use of Augmented Reality and other novel ways to help people see their world in new ways to deepen their understanding.


Technology Enhanced Dialog : Understand

The promise of the internet and the web to deliver large scale dialog systems remains largely untapped. Comment systems break under the weight of dozens of comments and cannot function with hundreds. Commercial services deliver what suits their commercial needs. An open, user co-developed system which supports real dialog will be a powerful force in supporting democratic dialog.

This promise can be realized and it should be realized in an open way and that is a constituent proposal for the Year Of Understanding: To research and compile the issues of large scale collaboration systems in order to build real-world set of requirements, to specify a flexible technical solution, to build and test a system which will continue to be modified with use. We simply call it Understand.

There is nothing designed for Understand at this point. The process of gathering real requirements will be a key part of building this system. Fundamental criteria include, but are not limited to:

User Experience

Basic Tenets

Shallow learning curve for basic use.

Opportunity for further learning for more powerful interaction.

Functional Requirements

Clean and clear reading.

Ability to navigate along many criteria (authors, regions, keywords…)

Multiple threading of dialog.

Annotation, tagging and rating.



Decentralized architecture.

Open Source Components and contributions of all code back to the Open Source community.


Large scale online dialog will either be open or owned by the next Facebook. It’s up to us to decide what we prioritize.



There are no confirmed partners at this early stage, though we plan to start with organizations in London, including The Natural History Museum, The British Library, the Royal Society, The Science Museum and The British Museum, as well as educational institutions.

The hope is for a global initiative with a British origin and heart, continuing from the 2012 olympic spirit. We will also talk to US institutions and TED, the global lecture series.



The initiative was conceived by and is organized by Frode Hegland of the Liquid Information Company, London:  Contact: Frode Hegland :

The structure and direction of The Year Of Understanding is open, transparent and democratic. Neither Frode Hegland nor anyone else associated with the program owns any intellectual property associated with the initiative.

The organizing committee will be non-profit and registered, with no remit beyond bringing partners together to create a wondrous year of understanding.


Published inFuture Of Text

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