Knowledge? What knowledge?

So, my research is about knowledge, right? Right. Now, go and define it. No really, I mean it. Let’s define knowledge. Isn’t it a great challenge? Have you ever been asked to define knowledge? Because by the way, that’s what I’m expected to do right now – let me show off a bit 😉 Actually I’m not showing off at all, I’m on the contrary humbled (and excited) to find out everything that has been discovered and analysed so far about this concept that is much more concrete (yet very complex) than one could imagine, and that we all need as it is part of ourselves, our world, and our life.

Seriously. To study knowledge “per se” is amazing. Because it can be analysed in so many different ways, viewed and understood from so many different perspectives, that it keeps on opening new horizons of… (inner) knowledge. I would have never imagined that one day, I would have the pleasure and honour to read or (re)discover Plato, Aristotle and some more contemporary philosophers within the context of my work or studies. Each one of them has defined what knowledge is, with its own insights, its own words and experience, and contributed to the overall general and cultural “knowledge” from which we can all benefit from today.

As always, when I try to deepen my understanding of a topic, I start by defining what it is not. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve spent quite some time recently to describe what is information (often mistaken for knowledge and vice versa), and what data is. But it goes way further than that. Indeed, in the knowledge management field, there has been plenty of discussions around these concepts, the way they are related to/differ from each other, their value, their use, and how eventually they get transformed. One of the models that has been widely analysed, valued and criticized, is the DIKW hierarchy (Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom), attributed to Ackoff in 1989, illustrated by the famous diagram below:

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I won’t discuss it any further, as there is so much to be said about it, and will rather stick to the concept of knowledge itself for now, that is broad enough, to say the least. To cut the story short 😉 Knowledge can be, and actually is interpreted in several fields such as information science, cognitive psychology, management, pedagogy, management, social computing and philosophy. All these are needed to grasp this huge, complex nebulous topic that somehow, define ourselves…

More on this topic next time. But any comments or questions are of course, more than welcomed.