About Knowledge Atlas

What is Knowledge Atlas?

It is a tool for teaching and learning. Knowledge Atlas was created to meet the growing demand for new and better ways for people to learn, share information and solve problems. By showing how any given piece of information is connected to all others, the Atlas provides context to the world's knowledge, helping people to learn faster and understand more.

It is a map of human knowledge. Knowledge Atlas uses individual concepts as informational building blocks. By connecting these concepts together using Knowledge Atlas's unique tools, we aim to create a map of all human knowledge. Individuals can create their own knowledge spaces by connecting individual concepts into concept maps that provide context and indicate the relationships between concepts. Like a traditional map, everything is connected into the larger map of human knowledge and put into context; however, unlike a typical map, its users can add new or different views, explain concepts, ideas or issues, and break them down or rearrange them in new and better ways to bring balance and clarity to any topic.

It is complementary to other tools on the Web. Currently, people rely on tools such as search engines and Wikipedia. Knowledge Atlas does not aim to replace these tools, but to work with them, providing context and structure to the information they provide.

It is a new web-based co-operative. Knowledge Atlas is owned and controlled by the people who contribute to it. Knowledge Atlas Co-op is founded on the principles of equity, transparency, inclusion, collaboration, a love of learning and sharing knowledge, and a genuine concern for the world we live in. Read more about what it means to be a co-op.

It is open to everyone. Browsing Knowledge Atlas does not require a login. Anyone who wishes to contribute to the Atlas can create an account. There is no monetary cost of co-op membership; instead it is earned through contribution of content to the Atlas.

It is a tool for research. Knowledge Atlas has extremely powerful multi-dimensional tools for research and managing references. The more complex and diverse your subject matter, the more these tools will complement your use of traditional linear text documents. To facilitate both individual and collaborative research, individuals have complete control over which information and reference links can be edited amongst their research groups or the general Web community.

It is a higher level of abstraction. Knowledge Atlas allows new concepts to be placed in precise context to existing concepts. Knowledge Atlas will increase the user's understanding of a topic of study and build awareness of disparate, yet related, concepts.


What are the goals of Knowledge Atlas?

Our goals as a social media company as well as a co-op company are:

  • To build a map of human knowledge that is owned forever by its worldwide co-operative community.
  • To help launch the world’s largest cooperative learning project using a very open, inclusive co-op business model.

  • To finance education projects around the world through the Knowledge Atlas Foundation.
  • To help co-ops increase their brand awareness with social media and exclusive sponsorships.

  • To introduce youth and the next generation of entrepreneurs to cooperative models and principles.
  • To give knowledge more context, more scope, and more accessibility on the Web.
  • To remain at the forefront of developing cooperative learning technology and information visualization on the Web.
  • To establish local chapters of contributors that map out issues important to their citizens as well as participate in governance of KA Co-op.

How does Knowledge Atlas work?

You can truly understand a subject matter by mapping it out in the Knowledge Atlas. Your attention is focused on giving structure and linkages to the concepts that you are learning about. Compared to writing a traditional text summary or linear article, the Knowledge Atlas creates a multi-dimensional web of concepts, ideas, abstracts, and references.

The tools used to build this map will grow and evolve with our community as they bring their ideas and expertise to the Atlas. The initial building blocks of the Atlas are:

1. Concepts - are common nouns describing ideas and general categories.

2. Examples - are proper nouns describing specific people, places and things.

3. Trees - are "Type-of" trees which connect individual Concepts in context to each other. In turn, Examples are connected to their respective Concepts.

4. Storylines - are an outline of short abstracts that tell a point-of-view about a particular issue or topic important to the contributor. By adding links to related Concepts, Storylines weave in and out of the branches of the Trees.



Knowledge Atlas connects human ideas together. Each idea in the Atlas is represented by a Concept. A Concept has a carefully chosen name, a short definition, and a date of origin for that idea in human history. Each Concept can be used over again in the Atlas, for example, "stormwater management" would be found in the context of flood control, climate change, and water pollution. Concepts are always common nouns since they name ideas and general categories such as:

  • an invention or technology (e.g. telephone, 3G smartphone)
  • a category or discipline (e.g. Dutch Realism)
  • a classification type (e.g.Homo sapiens)
  • an organized activity (e.g. Global School Lunch Programs)
  • a scientific discovery/concept (e.g. rock cycle, plate tectonics)
  • a legal principle (e.g. Concept of "Duty of Care" that originated in 1916)


Each instance of a Concept is represented by an Example. Like a Concept, an Example has a carefully chosen name, a short definition, and a date of origin. Each Concept can have an unlimited number of Examples. An Example can also be linked to a large number of different Concepts, for example, "Leonardo da Vinci" would be found in art, medicine, and warfare-related Concepts. Examples are proper nouns describing specific people, places and things such as:

  • a product name (e.g. iPhone)
  • a painting (e.g. Girl with a Pearl Earring -1665)
  • a person (e.g. Johannes Vermeer 1632-1675)
  • a specific organization (e.g. The McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program)
  • a place (e.g. Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon)
  • an individual legal decision (e.g. Donoghue v. Stevenson in 1932)


In the Atlas, Concepts and Examples are connected together into Trees which resemble maps of knowledge. Like a geographical map, direction and location have meaning in the tree structure. Concepts are arranged in relation to each other in "type-of" trees, horizontally according to time, and vertically according to complexity. This results in a predictable knowledge structure for ease of browsing and discovery learning - earliest ideas are on the left, latest ideas are on the right, most general category concepts are on top, and more specific category concepts are below.

Using wiki-like editing and mapping tools, contributors add Concepts and Examples to existing Trees or they can create new Trees. As Concepts and Trees are connected and rearranged through this collaborative process, the map takes shape.

Similar to a map, the context and relationships between Concepts reveal themselves as the Trees are assembled. It becomes obvious where you lack understanding by observing the visual gaps in the knowledge structures you are building. And it becomes easy to drop new pieces of information precisely into place because they immediately acquire the context of all the surrounding knowledge. This is not possible with the linear format of word documents and wikis.

There is symmetry to the activity of building Trees. Like writing a good outline, your goal for a well-designed Tree is to be able to easily compare and contrast concepts and ideas on any given level of the Tree. The Knowledge Atlas also allows you to build different Trees using the same concepts - in essence you are authoring a different "type-of" classification for each separate tree.



In the Atlas, a Storyline can be a narrative, an outline of a book, a chronology of events, or a point of view. The intent of a Storyline is to write a particular perspective about a subject matter using information from research articles, books, documentaries, and blogs. As individuals, researchers, authors, co-ops, non-profits, community groups, etc. map out issues important to them, they are also adding links to reference material, creating a "fabric on the web" for that subject matter.

Using editing tools similar to building slide deck presentations, Storylines are a robust tool for organizing your thoughts and creating powerful outlines. Storylines break down complicated ideas and perspectives into brief, well-defined abstracts called 'plot points'. In turn, each plot point becomes a precise piece of knowledge to which references can be attached.

Analogous to tourist maps that show suggested walks through a city, Storylines allow contributors to create suggested routes through the knowledge Trees. At the bottom of each summary 'plot point', the contributors can add the most relevant Concept from the Tree which captures the central idea of the plot point. By adding Tree concepts as anchors to the Storylines, this will connect together related Trees and connect together related Storylines. Through these visual connections, it now becomes possible to "connect the dots" between very broad topics.

These anchor Concepts can become intersection points for an unlimited number of Storylines. This powerful mechanism enables the Knowledge Atlas community to interconnect even seemingly unrelated Storylines together by their common Concepts. Finding one Storyline or Tree concept of interest will allow all other related Storylines to be found.

For group work, this multi-dimensional mapping tool allows contributors to see all the threads of discussion related to their topic. Each storyline can be selected for 'individual', 'friends', or 'community' editing. This flexibility gives contributors complete control over which information and reference links can be edited.


Summary - A learning and discovery tool for students, researchers, organizations, and life-long learners.

The process of building Storylines and Trees encourages learners to consider a wide range of perspectives and sources of information. When we organize information visually, like a map, the uncharted areas quickly become apparent and you become aware of disparate, yet related, concepts and ideas. As more related information is provided, a greater understanding takes form. The visual structure itself is a powerful catalyst to help build your own mental model/cognitive structure of the topic you are learning.

Once your information is in the Knowledge Atlas, other researchers and the general public have powerful new browsing and discovery tools to easily find your precise information and reference links. At a glance, the cognitive and visual pathways allow the user to navigate across large swaths of information. You just need to find one concept, or idea, of interest, and all other related ones become accessible. Fast and complex queries, critical thinking, and the ability to synthesize a much larger breadth of subject matter becomes second nature.