[unrev-II] Fw: Knowledge Theory

From: Jack Park (jackpark@verticalnet.com)
Date: Mon Nov 27 2000 - 07:29:33 PST

  • Next message: Jack Park: "[unrev-II] Fw: Knowledge Theory"

    This post, in case it hasn't already been forwarded, warrents forwarding to
    Unrev. John Maloney speaks to the need for nonlinearity in the creative
    process. That is what Gelernter speaks of in _The Muse in the Machine_. I
    recommend that book as well.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: John Maloney <jmaloney@collaboratory.com>
    To: Rod Welch <rowelch@attglobal.net>
    Cc: <institute@kmci.org>; <ohs-dev@bootstrap.org>; Mark W. McElroy
    Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2000 8:34 AM
    Subject: RE: Knowledge Theory

    > Rod,
    > Thanks for copying me on this exchange. I have followed it with interest.
    > Mark, you've done a nice job of capturing and leading a lot of the thought
    > in this area.
    > While I don't have a problem with the principles in general, I think it is
    > only fair to state some of the predicates of the "knowledge theory."
    > If the 'knowledge theory' is simply an academic exercise or ontology, then
    > fine.
    > However, from my review it seems as if there is a belief or predicate in
    > large-scale, unbounded, and mechanized production of useful knowledge.
    > is a false & dangerous presupposition.
    > Michael Porter defines "innovation" simply as productivity growth.
    > the lifecycle approach, systems thinking, quality management, Collective
    > etc., are all proven mechanisms to advance productivity and productivity
    > growth (innovation).
    > The refinement and continuous pursuit of these methods is honorable and
    > valuable.
    > The danger is these methods are linear and deterministic.
    > True creativity is neither. In fact, structured, robotic, 'production'
    > settings as described, most often stifle randomness, chaos, agility and
    > true context of creativity. Complexity science & OL simply do not provide
    > adequate explanation or methodology for the highly erratic and capricious
    > nature of dazzling originality and spectacular invention.
    > Today, most business activity and thinking is still concerned with linear
    > mechanical habit. Thus, these "production" offerings have an important
    > in today's lexicon and toolkit.
    > However, new wealth-producing processes require a much higher degree of
    > individual intellectual & creative effort. In this environment, knowledge
    > management must strive to enhance & expand zones of collaboration,
    > learning, play, context, content, expression and community for
    > It does not involve rigid, cybernetic processes of identification,
    > codification, control, production and maximization, for example. The KM
    > pursuit is an environment of effortless sharing and unconscious
    > collaboration. The objective is to maximize the efficiencies &
    > of mental concentration, cognition and imagination, not "production" of
    > knowledge.
    > In the future, "knowledge theory" will be quite simply and directly about
    > the state of knowing. It will have less and less to do with control,
    > systems, production, processes, mechanics or methodologies.
    > Another example is agriculture. By far, the vast majority of the earth's
    > population concerns themselves from dawn 'til dusk with producing
    > We don't. Because of this, and the extremely low probability that I will
    > starve, allows me to write this message. You'll agree that our society has
    > totally mastered the production of food. We never think about the
    > of food. It is the envy of the world. Yet, >60% of Americans are morbidly
    > obese. This excess accounts for the vast 'disease care' system that could
    > bankrupt our economy. 800,000 Americans die prematurely each -year-
    > of obesity. If this was by war or by accident, it would be a national
    > catastrophe. These are just examples of the side effects of a "production"
    > system that has run amok. Close parallels can be drawn to this
    > production process and enterprise excess of "knowledge production." Quite
    > honestly, it is more important to create meaning than to "produce
    > knowledge." More companies suffer from knowledge indigestion than
    > starvation. A "production" system exacerbates this problem.
    > Look at how lean, lightning-fast start-ups whip their far larger
    > mostly because they enjoy an open, fast moving culture of close
    > collaboration, urgency, *customers* and collective goal seeking, for
    > example. Knowledge production isn't on their radar.
    > Anyway, thanks again for this message and this important work, research
    > thought. It is a real contribution. As this work evolves, the following
    > quote from the great Nobel Laureate economist Friedrich August Von Hayek
    > even more prescient:
    > "Every individual has some advantage over all others because he possesses
    > unique information of which beneficial use might be made only if the
    > decisions depending on it are left to him."
    > It is from "The Use of Knowledge in Society," which I recommend.
    > Cheers,
    > John
    > -----Original Message-----
    > Sent: Saturday, November 18, 2000 7:45 AM
    > To: Rod Welch
    > Cc: institute@kmci.org; ohs-dev@bootstrap.org; Maloney, John T.
    > Subject: Re: Knowledge Theory
    > Rod:
    > My name is Mark W. McElroy. I'm Chairman of the KMCI Institute's
    > Council
    > (its board). Thank you for your response to our broadcast announcement.
    > Please see
    > my comments below in response to your queries.
    > Rod Welch wrote:
    > > It appears that KMCI's curriculum can provide guidance. Has KMCI
    > 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.
    > Rod, a core team of KMCI principals, myself included, developed an
    > ontological model
    > of knowledge over a year ago. Since then we have enhanced it slightly,
    > its
    > composition and use have changed little. We refer to it as the KMCI
    > knowledge life
    > cycle model, or KLC model. You can obtain a copy of this model at my own
    > website at
    > the following URL:
    > http://www.macroinnovation.com/images/KMCILifeCycleModel.pdf
    > In general, the KMCI perspective on knowledge versus information is deeply
    > rooted in
    > the KLC model and hinges heavily on the notion of validation as performed
    > self-organized communities of knowledge (aka, communities of interest,
    > practice,
    > etc.). Knowledge by our definition is information that has been validated
    > by a
    > social system; information, on the other hand, is invalidated and can be
    > thought of
    > as "knowledge claims" only -- potential knowledge -- but not knowledge,
    > se.
    > Knowledge is also, therefore, relative to its holders. Knowledge to me
    > only be
    > information to you, because I've validated it but you haven't.
    > Organizational
    > knowledge evolves in the same fashion. This is where communities of
    > knowledge come
    > into play. Communities create new knowledge and serve as the validating
    > intermediaries between individually-held knowledge and
    > knowledge. This is why communities play such an important role in our KLC
    > (we call
    > them "groups").
    > As for work being done in this area, there's lots of it. First of all,
    > perspective is strongly aligned with attempts to aplly systems thinking to
    > organizational learning, including Peter Senge's efforts, and the separate
    > but
    > related work being done in the complexity science arena (i.e., complex
    > adpaptive
    > systems theory). For example, in my case I have been developing a
    > methodology
    > designed to enhance organizational knowledge production using principles
    > taken from
    > the KMLC model and complexity theory. This includes construction of an
    > on-line
    > simulator developed using system dynamics tools from High Performance
    > Systems and
    > which, again, can be found on my website:
    > http://www.macroinnovation.com/simulation.htm I would also point to all
    > the work
    > being done my may others in the community building arena such as Etienne
    > Wenger and
    > others.
    > > 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....
    > >
    > > http://www.welchco.com/sd/08/00101/02/00/01/13/115201.HTM#3098
    > >
    > > 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?
    > Yes, that is our intent. It's all bundled under the heading of "2nd
    > generation KM."
    > > Any help is greatly appreciated. By copy, I am alerting the OHS/DKR
    > about
    > > your important work, and look forward to hearing from you.
    > Thank you, Rod.
    > Regards,
    > Mark

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