Collective Intelligence at the Knowledge Graph Conference

Lounge Table at KGC 2021 with Conor White Sullivan from Roam Research
Lounge Table at KGC 2021

Blockchain and Consensus Mechanisms

Conor is interested in the space, however, acknowledges it’s early days…

What is Roam focussed on now?

Matei Canavra, a power user of Roam, was interested to find out what stage Roam is at. Below are some quotes from Conor and this for me was an interesting learning from the conversation on Doug Engelbart and Bootstrapping…

“We shape our tools thereafter our tools shape us”

Another interesting reference, though attribution of this quote is disputed.


“Design is breaking things into atomic reusable pieces…Roam is world class at breaking a belief into its atomic pieces and we have good line of attack on other primitives…”

Product Roadmaps

Larry asked about the Roam product roadmap, Conor is a skeptic on roadmaps and here we had another interesting reference to Hoftstadter’s Law.

Roam for Problem Solving

Ellie Young, Head of Community at The Knowledge Graph Conference had a brief discussion with Conor about the driving force behind Roam, using Roam for mapping climate information, and thinking beyond RDF

COVID 19 and Governance, Mass Media

Conor referenced the Covid-19 crisis as an example of the issue with mass media today.

Validating Claims and Change Propagation

“It would be good to get a push notification if knowledge you have based a belief on has changed…


Ellie asked Conor about Climate and how much that drives Roam.

“Map of your mind”

Conor continued…

Thoughts on RDF

Conor is a fan of 5 tuple aspect, seen in databases like datanomic data model and DataLog where additions and subtractions are recorded and with timestamps you have provenance

How will “anointing” happen in the future

Larry asked how Conor sees the process of anointing experts or spokespeople happening in the future.

Recommended Reading

“How people change their narrative, cognitive dissonance/surprise occurs when bottom up senses conflict with top down perspective and beliefs…this is what happens when people to lose faith in institutions…”

Technology and Human Behavior

Conor spoke about thresholds require for something to become a behavior.

Collective Intelligence vs Google Page Rank

“What is order of magnitude between collective intelligence and Google’s page ranking algorithm?” asked Larry, Chair of the KGC Networking track.

Open Standards

“Should we have open standards?”

Parting Thoughts from Conor…

“Checkout hypergraphs and hyperarcs…we have the schemas for it now…important for convergent thinking and how to track provenance”

Next Year

So there it is, we had originally invited Conor to participate in a workshop on Paths to More Personal and Collaborative Knowledge Graphs by Alan Morrison.



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Thomas Deely

Thomas Deely

Co Founder The Knowledge Graph Conference & Community. Customer Sucess, Stack Overflow. Investing in the human supercomputer. Raising kids