David Weinberger has written What's wrong with being right in the March 2008 KM World. This is a familiar topic for him, and he's distilled it to five points without making reference to that online, collaborative encyclopedia that starts with a W.
In essence, while it is probably going to be valuable to be an authority for some time to come, there are a number of areas where authority is being challenged. Accessing an authority is no longer the only path to learning about something. Here are David's five points:
- Knowledge is becoming commoditized.
- Authoritative knowledge sounds neutral but is always political.
- Stamping knowledge as authoritative decreases our information.
- Authoritative knowledge doesn't take us far enough down the path to understanding.
- Authoritative knowledge gets its metaphysics wrong.
To make my own connection to knowledge management here, this line of thinking can help explain why we are seeing a shift in KM from the collect-and-control viewpoint to the connect-and-collaborate viewpoint. The nature of collecting documents and information into a central repository assumes that it's possible to create an authoritative repository of information, when everyone involved knows that is not the case. Sure, the information can be helpful, but it needs that acknowledgment that there were other things happening as well. There were people involved. Collaboration, on the other hand, points to the need for people to learn from one another and pick up the clues that authority might not acknowledge.