The Fractal Nature of Knowledge

Here is the question posed by Arnold King (

I am interested in the phenomenon of knowledge specialization.For example, in medicine, there are many more specialties and sub-specialties than there were 30 years ago. My guess is that if libraries are still using classification systems, there should be a lot more categories. My guess is that major universities have many more departments than they did 30 years ago.

I think this is important in economics because I think that businesses and economic systems have become harder to manage as a result. In short, the leaders tend to know less about the specialized information that is further down in the organization, because the amount of the latter is increasing (I conjecture).

I would like some quantitative indicators of the rate at which new knowledge categories or sub-categories are being developed. Do you know how to even go about searching for such indicators?

I spent some time thinking this over. I may have ranged too far from the question and I know I am preaching to the choir here, but thought the issue of economic value creation and knowledge categorization would benefit from a bigger picture perspective.

The problem with the question is that knowledge is fractal in nature. It is endlessly complex and classification depends on scale and perspective. It’s not a matter of “there should be more categories… “; there are more. It simply depends on where you look and your perspective. Continue reading