Knowledge Theory

From: Rod Welch (
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 21:23:31 PST


Congratulations on tackling an important subject in your course curriculum. On
000716 Professor Joseph Ransdell, Texas Tech, advised that developing a useful
theory of knowledge that accounts for communication and human experience has
eluded academics and practitioners since the 17th century.

This past year Doug Engelbart has led an ad hoc team meeting at SRI in a project
to develop a Dynamic Knowledge Repository (DKR), based on a tool set being
called an OHS. This effort draws on Doug's life's work to use technology and
systems that provide continual advance in the competency of people and
organizations to solve complex problems.

Doug has been awarded the National Medal of Technology and will received this
recognition, along with other honorees, at an event hosted by President Clinton
in Washington D.C. on 001201....

An issue that comes up in the DKR project is distinguishing KM from IT. For
example, on 000518 Peirce's work in semiotics was presented at SRI, and a theory
of knowledge and meaning was discussed....

Later, on 000615 the team was less certain about how to distinguish knowledge
from traditional information technology for meetings, email, data mining, AI,
cell phones, Palm Pilots, Lotus Notes, paper piled on the desk, etc....

It appears that KMCI's curriculum can provide guidance. Has KMCI settled on a
definition that distinguishes knowledge from information, and can you suggest an
example of work being done that illustrates this idea? This comes up because
ontology is thought by some to be a distinguishing feature of KM. Some people
call this categories or subjects, and some speak of an evolutionary
epistemology, while others point to the idea of taxonomy.

On 000113 I asked the president of KMCI, Ed Swanstrom, about these matters, and
he indicated that KMCI is working hard to formalize KM, but has not yet
resolved the foundational matters that Doug's DKR team is addressing....

Doubtless, KMCI has made a lot of progress since last January. Will all this be
covered in the course you are offering that explains a theory of knowledge?

Any help is greatly appreciated. By copy, I am alerting the OHS/DKR team about
your important work, and look forward to hearing from you.



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