management and Instructional Design. Knowledge
repositories are not the driving problem in knowledge management.
H.G. Wells on
Knowledge Management. H.G.
Wells recognized the need for KM as early as 1937. He advocated for
World Encyclopaedia in a speech that included this quotation:
An immense and ever-increasing wealth of knowledge is scattered about
the world today; knowledge that would probably suffice to solve all the
mighty difficulties of our age, but it is dispersed and unorganized. We
need a sort of mental clearing house for the mind: a depot where knowledge
and ideas are received, sorted, summarized, digested, clarified and compared.
The Brain: Organization of the Modern World
Gordon Dickson offered a similar vision in his book The
Final Encyclopedia. He offered a notion of a single repository of all
human knowledge as a route to understanding what was "at the back of the
human head." Actually, it's a fairly common concept in a number of good
science fiction novels.
What's good in a fictional setting, however, only serves to confuse the
issue when you're trying to make something practical happen in the real
world. The myth that all these stories perpetuate is that the relevant problem
is collecting and organizing the knowledge. As important as library science
is to coping with a world of information overload and data glut, it's not
the most important, or even the first, problem in knowledge management that
needs to be solved.
The first problem that needs to be solved is helping knowledge workers
understand how knowledge they don't already possess from experience might
be relevant to solving their problem at hand. All the well-organized repositories
in the world won't be relevant until an individual knowledge worker decides
they need to turn somewhere else for help.
The goal of knowledge management is "what?" It seems to me that the goal
of knowledge management is to change knowledge into information. It is possible
to manage knowledge, and it is possible to use information. I have no problem
with the ideas of knowledge management and KLogs. In fact, I kind of like
them. My question, maybe someone can send me a link to help, is how do you
turn the knowledge into information via learning? My background is in instructional
design, so maybe this is a natural question for me to ask. I see the instructional
design process as having a large potential impact on the issues of knowledge
management. I am still trying to wrap my head around this intersection of
knowledge, information, learning, and instruction. I see them together complimenting
each other, but I am working on how to produce clarity at this intersection.
Adams: Instructional Design]
I really need more time to sit down and write than I have at the moment, so
I'll post a reminder to myself and try to get back to this later. The distinction
may be trivial, but my understanding is that knowledge management attempts to
turn information (fairly raw data) into knowledge (applicable learning). I,
too, come to knowledge management from an instructional design background. In
some ways, I've begun to believe that as important as the tools of knowledge
management are, the most important (and most challenging) hurdle to jump is
getting a "knowledge worker"(someone whose job it is to filter complex
arrays of information, extract relevant chunks, combine them with other chunks
(or new ideas) to create "value") into the mindset that any knowledge
management tool requires. Figuring out how to capture, annotate, and store chunks
of information so as to increase its potential energy is a huge endeavor. A
system or tool may have its own workflow, but unless the individual has internalized
the process, the following of a script will fail to extract deep value.
Any system that is flexible enough to deal with unexpected queries in the future
must be fairly messy on the front end. If you knew exactly what you were going
to do with each "chunk" as you recorded it, building a cataloging
system would probably be straightforward. I believe the value of a dynamic knowledge
management system comes from the ability to look back over past entries for
"meaningful" data, where the value is defined by the ever-changing
OK, I've got to run help put my kids to bed, so I'll have to come back to this
later. Also, I hate cluttering up people's aggregator with such a long message.
Maybe I'll have to look into providing a truncated RSS feed...