Monday, July 8, 2013

Knowledge's Tradition: Blog Banter #47

Knowledge is its own currency. Some call it power. Other's may call it a right. It may be a responsibility. Or for another, knowledge may be a gift. It is an interesting currency. In some ways anyone can gain it and in other's it can be locked away, taken, hidden, controlled, or even lost. It can be given, shared, expanded upon, refined, improved, and recorded. It can become contemptuously common or frightfully rare.

Eve has a rich history of oral tradition. The game itself is often times almost a feudal society where information is passed down through the small, island cultures inside of the game. A new player learns from a mentor and as an apprentice. A corporation invests in its new players with the goal to educate and raise them with the long term payoff of that person becoming a loyal and productive member of the corporation's society. The concepts of youth exist because they function inside the understanding of age and the reflected ignorance of youth converted to not mean the physical age of the player but the actual in game age of that person.

Eve's history of oral tradition has functioned as its main educator since its existence. Documents have been written, drawn, and recorded. Vast swaths of information are created and presented. I have read mathematical formulas that explain the complexity of missile mechanics. Formulas that are transparently easy to some and a wall of pure, hazy impermeability to others. Things that people have figured out through their own experiences and education and brought down to a level of possible explanation for others.

Blog Banter #47 is focused on knowledge.
Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?" -Kirith Kodachi
It is easy to wonder if Eve is well documented. Is there a Library of New Eden? A place where information is stored and made accessible for accessibility sake? Is that Library well known? Is it accessible? Does it store the complete and total knowledge of New Eden as we know it?

While mulling over the basics questions of the blog banter I was reminded of  a quote at work. It hangs on the wall of a particular training room in a particular building where a particular task is taught. On that white board it says, "I hear I forget. I see I remember. I do I understand." That quote enraged me when I first read it and it still activates a simmering level of rage due to its blatant disregard for the individuality of people's learning styles. But, as I thought about the concept of knowledge and the accessibility of knowledge in Eve I came to realize that the answer to everything involving knowledge in Eve is always "yes" and always "no" because it will always be viewed through the filtered lenses of refracted opinion.

"The game really isn't that complex. You put stuff in a ship, you fly around and use it. I think EVE players just like to think it's more complex than it is so they can pat themselves on the back."
Last night, I read the above from a new player. It was an interesting discussing full of smugness from him. The discussion of what can be learned in game and can I learn it could not be reached because it did not exist. For some people there is no knowledge to be gained. While they can be called ignorant and the self righteous can call them out and point to their error it speaks of something deeper down.

Before someone can be taught they must be able to learn. There is no amount of knowledge that can be gathered, stores, shared, refined, accessed, or interacted with if the target cannot even comprehend its existence. Every question this blog banter asks cannot be answered, asked, or comprehended without the acceptance of its existence beforehand.

After that, it is easy enough to answer. Those who seek knowledge will continue to seek knowledge. Knowledge does not exist in a static, solid state. The acquisition of it causes it to fragment into fragments of individual bits of understanding that reform into a complete understanding. Knowledge is a loose, flexible whole that always exists within itself.

I believe that CCP could do better with documenting information on Eve. But documenting knowledge and information is not a simple task. Many people are very good at creation but not good at explanation. I often wonder how much of Eve's own self is lost to its creators because that information existed inside of the original creator who is no longer an active member of the game. I do believe that wikis and websites help files and notations would be tremendous to have but at the same time they would be a tremendous undertaking to create. It is easy enough to lean back in my chair while my fingers flicker over the keyboard and suggest that CCP create a better system of internal documentation and determination to players for the game mechanics. I don't think it is a bad idea but it may not be an obtainable idea.

Very often the phrase, in various forms, "I didn't know" presents itself. This happens when people die in Low Sec. We all know there is a warning but one hears, "I did not see it." That knowledge is almost jabbed into the players eye and it is still missed.

You cannot feed knowledge to those that do not want it. You can present information and have people reject the format. How often do people ask for the TL;DR? Or a summary of the patch notes when they return to the game? I can explain and write a technical detail on how to anchor a POS but until they do it the knowledge is not complete.

Consumption, perception, desire are all parts of obtaining knowledge. Retention is going to be determined by the individual. Understanding can be tested by others and known or not known to the possessor. There is no easy answer of how to educate someone in Eve or how to reeducate them. Even the dissemination of knowledge requires more than one medium and one of those mediums, the most volatile of them all, is the player.

CCP can create all day but the player has to take what is given. In a place where knowledge is needed but rejected on a daily basis there is nothing but individual paths and actions. It is why we have so much information beyond CCP. It is why sometimes the only way to learn things is to curl up at the feet of a veteran on coms for they will not type in chat or write to a forum.

My answer to the banter: To gain knowledge in Eve, one must take knowledge in Eve. To learn everything in Eve one must spread the weight across more than one individual. To maintain knowledge in Eve flexibility is a vital tool. To sink into the mire of one mode of communication is to lose the very thing being preserved. Humanity must be accepted and pride used as a tool and not as a hindrance. Eve is the game, the history, the code, the company, the players, the forums and the endless moments of its every day existence. I do not think that one person can know all because one person cannot know what every other person knows, sees, or feels.

The sky may be blue, but what shade of blue is it? So stands my feelings for knowledge in Eve.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I enjoyed the angles you came at this from, very thought provoking. Especially the dangers of perception, something I also debate, is Eve actually complex? Or is this a self-constructed mechanic we've devised to justify the time sink? Or whatever we each happen to be compensating for. Fascinating debate.