VIII.6 Knowledge Web

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James Burke

Patrick McKercher

Michael Stamper

What do postcards have in common with private detectives? How is an African explorer connected to your breakfast this morning? Author and TV host James Burke, writer and educator Patrick McKercher, and graphic designer Michael J. Stamper depicted a small yet important portion of the Knowledge Web (K-Web) here. K-Web is the digital incarnation of Burke's award-winning books and television series on the history of innovation used in high schools and universities in fifty countries. It is a powerful, interactive, and intuitive exploratory time machine—a learning and teaching tool fostering multiple intelligences and complex thinking in more systemic ways. Using K-Web, anybody can understand knowledge in context, generate new ideas, and explore a universe of data to discover how seemingly unrelated people, events, and ideas are connected across time and space. It allows students to traverse human knowledge in a compelling way, to follow Burke on his unique guided tours of history, and to visit historical immersive interactive environments—e.g., talk to Galileo and experiment with his inventions. K-Web facilitates a new kind of education that is tailored to the interests and abilities of the learner. Join the collaborative K-Web and its virtual communities at


Burke, James, Patrick McKercher, and Michael J. Stamper. 2012. Knowledge Web. Courtesy of the James Burke Institute. In “8th Iteration (2012): Science Maps for Kids,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper.

Burke, James. 1996. The Pinball Effect: How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible—and Other Journeys Through Knowledge. New York: Little, Brown & Company.

Burke, James. 1999. The Knowledge Web: From Electronic Agents to Stonehenge and Back—and Other Journeys Through Knowledge. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Burke, James. 2000. Circles—Fifty Round Trips Through History Technology Science Culture. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Burke, James. 2003. Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the Modern World. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Burke, James. 2007. American Connections: The Founding Fathers. Networked. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Explore making alternative pathways available to kids, e.g.,;jsessionid=85E689F531729B4B4928BC54B8309106 via the online web site or map description.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.