Our Aims

Guidelines should do what their name states: outline guiding principles to support given aims. With this in mind, we formulated the following guidelines that underpin our work:


1) Locating and Accessing Knowledge

Knowledge is only valuable if it is discoverable. As knowledge becomes increasingly concentrated on the Internet, it must be universally accessible to everyone. The tools used to access the world's information are subjected to continuous change. Currently, search engines and social networks act as the main "gateways" to the Internet. As such, they must be designed and programmed in away that enables everybody to find all knowledge, regardless of how hidden it might be.

Locating and accessing knowledge must not be unduly restricted by any legal claims.

2) Access to Knowledge under Adherence with Freedom of Information and Protection Against Crime

Access to knowledge must be designed in a way that simultaneously protects users' right to freedom of information and prevents criminal attacks. As part of the Freedom of Information Act, no user profiles should be generated from a user's web interactions without their authorisation. In addition, user data must not be used in any way that is not transparent.

Protection against cyber crime must not be cited as an argument to build structures to censor content.

3) Transparent Evaluation and Presentation of Knowledge

The perceived value of search results is determined by their ranking: by default, the first results are considered most important. In reality, ranking criteria always reflect the particular judgments, values and interests of knowledge providers (e.g. currently mainly search engines). If knowledge providers come to establish a de facto monopoly, their ranking criteria must be made clear and democratically legitimised institutions must be able to review them.

4) Pluralism of Access to Knowledge

Industry measures for controlling free access to knowledge are widely revoked by existing quasi-monopolistic structures. Such established quasi-monopolies prevent the rise of new competitors through their current market power. This might be achieved through acquiring potential competitors - or their most talented staff, monopolizing basic sources for income (e.g online-advertising) or cross-financing numerous free services for the purpose of customer retention.

In order to ensure free and transparent access to knowledge, a pluralistic knowledge access infrastructure must be created and maintained.

5) Support of Information Literacy

Information resources, their structures and the way they are presented can represent knowledge but can also represent the owner*s interests. Both are justifiable. However, structures which conceal this difference will never be eradicated. Therefore, it is critical that schemes which promote information literacy, i.e. users? ability to critically judge information, are supported. Here, educational institutions and training facilities play an important role as well as critical journalism.

What is Knowledge?

We don't pretend to be able to answer this age old philosophic question. The following comments only aim to describe the concept sufficiently enough to understand the guidelines, goals and aims of the "SUMA-EV - Association for Free Access to Knowledge".

First of all the terms 'knowledge' and 'information' have to be distinguished. 'Knowledge' always relates to living beings; we can understand it as organized, structured and intelligently linked information in neurons and brain cells.

'Information' by contrast is everything (existing in a philosophical sense) out of which knowledge can be created. This might be letters in a book, tree's growth rings, sediment layers in the ground and much more. Only when information is organized, structured and linked to other available information in the brain of a living being we call it 'knowledge'. Plenty of information can also be found in places without any living being - knowledge however only exists where life exists. Obvious follow up queries such as if plants, which are undoubtedly living, carry knowledge, shall not be discussed here.

Knowledge may be only a subset of information in terms of set theory, but this subset is essential because it represents information in a higher complexity that is indispensible to our existence.

Finally we should realise that all we know about knowledge can only be recursive as it is part of knowledge itself.

Concrete Actions of SUMA-EV:
  • Anual award of the SUMA AWARDS and SUMA-Congress
  • Developement, support and promotion of search engines:
    • in develpopment: SUMA-LAB,
    • running: SUMA-EV search engines.
  • for more see activities of SUMA-EV.

The goals of SUMA-EV are also described in the statutes (currently available in German only), and in the 22 Theses of SUMA-EV.

In order to minimize potential misunderstanding it is also useful to describe what SuMa-eV does not want: a state-owned search engine replacing private or commercial monopolies. Only variety and pluralism can prevent the interests of few - either commercial or governmental - from controlling free access to the world's digitally knowledge network.