Cosma is an initiative to create an inventory of the best knowledge resources in the world with neat ways to navigate and explore them.1
Content is King
Cosma provides structured access to a systematic, top-down inventory of some of the world’s most valuable, interesting and entertaining Knowledge Resources. There are hundreds of pages, and each one features many hand picked links to subject specific resources. There are also customized links to database driven resources that can be accessed with URLs that use consistent search strings (e.g. Webster, Roget’s, Britannica, WorldCat, Open Courseware etc.). All of the links on the pages are organized by a unique classification scheme named Knowledge Forms that was developed exclusively for Cosma.
Toy Worlds are the newest interface to Cosma. They are literally “Toy Worlds” because they are dioramas created with dollhouse furniture and miniature toys that are photographed with a RICOH THETA S 360° Camera. The resulting 360° photos are posted on the RoundMe 360° photo sharing service in order to overlay links to this and other Web sites.
Here is the first in a series of twelve Toy Worlds that are serving as an interface to this site now. There are many other Toy Worlds distributed across this site. You can read more about them and their fun backstory on this post.
Click the 360° image below to explore this Toy World, click the menu in the upper right for controls and click “i” buttons on/off for links to experiences. Use “portals” to visit other Toy Worlds.
You can also explore this on RoundMe.
There is also a much older 3D interface that is hosted in the virtual worlds called Second Life.
It is named Knowledge Places (K-Places), and it all that remains of a much more extensive project that began in 2006. At the height of the project in 2010, there were many sites that covered more than a million square meters in Second Life. The sites were made up of thematically organized spaces designed around inviting spatial metaphors (Parks, Palace, Paradise, etc.). You can find out more about the project on the K-Places page.
The above examples are just the latest experiments with creating 3D interfaces. The first prototype was created with Apple’s HyperCard that ran in color on an Apple IIGS with ProDOS in the 1980s. There have been many others created using a variety of platforms over the years since then. You can find out more about them on the Worlds Challenge page.
More to see and do!
There are a number of other ways of exploring Cosma. For example, you can browse a visual menu of some popular Categories of content.
Finally, Cosma also uses a “embedded and distributed” Documentation approach. There are passages and footnotes about the project distributed across the pages on this site in the context where they are relevant. In addition, they are also gathered together in one place on the Notes page, so that page is a cumulative and evolving collection of clippings about the history, theory and structure of Cosma.
Thank you for your interest, and please share Cosma with your friends! It is free, and there is something for everybody. There is far more to see and do than anyone can see in a single visit, and more things are added all of the time, so visit often and wander the Web!
1. Cosma is only the most recent iteration of a project that has been evolving for decades. It is based upon over thirty years of research and development in information, knowledge and communication systems. It’s been a long road, and quite the journey! Here are just a few references to some stops along the way…
Hopper, M. E. (2009, April). Cosma: Constructing a Kingdom of Knowledge. Media in Transition 6 Conference: Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Hopper, M. E. (2007, April). The Knowledge Gates to SecondLife. Media in Transition 5 Conference: Creativity, Ownership and Collaboration in the Digital Age, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Hopper, M. E. (2000, January). Knowledge systems 101: From Alexandria to Hitchhiker’s Guide. Independent Activity Period, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Hopper, M. E. (1999, October). A Project About Projects: Watching Academic E-Media Projects Evolve [Presentation]. Media in Transition: An International Conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Hopper, M. E. (1998, October). Hypertext in historical context: Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson revisited. Media-in-Transition Project / Communications Forum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Hopper, M. E. (1993). Expert’s views about courseware development in advanced computing environments [Abstract]. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 93 – Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 607.
Hopper, M. E. (1993). Educational courseware production in advanced computing environments. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.