The web has always been a network of knowledge. From its inception, one of its strongest points has been the ease that the world’s knowledge has become accessible to all—or, as Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia put it, “imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.”
You can stop imagining. The problem now isn’t access to information: it’s curating it, and presenting it in different ways. Google has built one of the richest businesses in the world on organizing the world’s information; it’s a tall task that requires different approaches for different people.
Montreal-based E-180 is a social enterprise that is applying technology to create an innovative approach towards curating knowledge. Instead of having it reside in static text in different locations around the web, E-180 brings the spread of knowledge back to its roots: the oral storytelling that was at the origin of humanity’s accumulation of insights.
E-180 is about vivifying, and personalizing learning. Instead of going to resources tailored to appeal to thousands of people at a time, E-180’s platform facilitates the direct connection between two people looking to learn from one another. Its ultimate vision is to untap all of the locked up knowledge in human beings, and the different ways they use and express that knowledge.
The vast pool of human knowledge is mostly untapped. Only a small minority of people are responsible for publishing the vast majority of what we can access online: lost within that is the personal connection that facilitates learning, but also knowledge that has never been unveiled or accessed before.
By curating human knowledge, and making it easy for those striving to learn from one another to connect, E-180 is slowly creating an individual network of knowledge that contrasts sharply with the broadcast nature of the web.
Imagine learning about cello playing from somebody who just recently went through the struggle of doing the same thing, or learning about local culture from somebody who has lived and breathed it.
Technology has always been a race for more and better—more reach, more influence, more ideas. Sometimes, however, it’s better going back to simplicity: focusing on the connection between two individual human beings rather than the connection between broadcasting source and target.
Within that simplicity can lie incredible power. One E-180 user was going to undergo brain surgery, while still being awake, for a virulent form of brain cancer. Having never lived through the experience, he was scared—but using the E-180 platform, he managed to find somebody who could guide him through meditation to relax him. He was able to bear through chemotherapy after picking up relaxation techniques, and to this day he meditates to relieve stress.
It’s an incredible portrait of the power of individual connection in an age of mass media. It’s the sort of connection, learning, and healing E-180 is great at fostering. Now hard at work on creating a new mobile application to make it easier for people to access this network of vivified knowledge, the startup has received slightly more than $400,000 in funding from the Canada Media Fund to power it along as it extends its network across mobile devices. It aims to change different spaces into spontaneous learning hubs with mobile capability. This, along with a new version of the platform slated for the end of the summer, signals E-180’s ambition to grow.
The platform behind E-180 is aiming to grow even further, gradually unveiling the untapped pools of knowledge that lie within the people around us. As the network that surrounds it grows stronger, so does the vast potential to unite us all to learn—together.