This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Knowledge is something in context

In response to my posting Knowledgeline's list of Guiding Principles of Knowledge, Dale Emery comments that "Knowledge is information in context" is troubling, particularly when in combination with "information is data in context."  The crux of his problem is

To me, the essence of information is that it informs. More particularly, it informs someone about something relevant to the person. I usually construe that to mean that in order for data to be information, it must help a person to make a decision (or a kind of decision, or a suite of decisions). That is, the person's desire to decide something is exactly the kind of context that turns (relevant) data into information. (Perhaps this is too limited, and there are also other ways in which information could inform someone.)

This isn't rigorous, but I like to think of information as being separate from people or person - it is stuff that is written down or otherwise recorded.  Information is data that has been coalesced around a topic or filtered in some way.  And, of course, there are many levels to how much abstraction one can do with this information and data - a wide variety of contexts can be employed to examine the data (and the information for that matter). 

Where knowledge comes into the picture is in how people make use of the information and the underlying data.  Essentially, it is all about what a person (or group of people) do with the information that results from the above coalescing process.  How does this stuff affect what they do - how does it inform their decisions and behaviors.  Of course, knowledge is also discussed as a body of knowledge, which could be thought of as the result of collecting a lot of information around a given topic and building a larger understanding of the topic. 

Essentially, I am trying to differentiate between raw facts; the compilation of those facts through some filter; and the use and employment of that filtered stuff to help make decisions and direct one's behavior.

Here's what the wikipedia thinks of knowledge (from a much longer entry):

Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or information gained in the form of experience or learning. Knowledge is an appreciation of the possession of interconnected details which, in isolation, are of lesser value.

Not a bad place to stop. 

Caterpillar's knowledge networks at KM Chicago

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