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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rethinking Quality of Knowledge

The other day Joe said, “I like your posts. I was there when some of the events you write about happened, and the others fit my philosophy. People need a philosophy to understand what they learn.”

Stoat told me about a study that showed that a high percentage of Marine Corps officers never achieve the same level of responsibility and compensation as their final positions in the Corps. They had a framework for the Corps that didn’t transfer to civilian life.

An IDE (Integrated Development Environment – Software where programmers build code) costs about as much as a car and lasts about as long.

I step in front of education as much as I can. I find I get the most value when it is practical and when it is something I care about.

Saint Bumpersticker had two pronouncements on knowledge. First, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” followed by, “The problem with ignorant people is not that they don’t know enough, but that they know too much that is not true.”

I think we are in a time when our roles and responsibilities are changing at a speed we have never seen before. Think about what it means when your last name is Carpenter, Fisher, Mason, or Farmer. Families were doing the same jobs for generations.

We may be working more hours than we imagined, but there is so little physical exercise, we have to schedule that separately or lose health and mobility.

We have to rethink our acquisition and use of knowledge.

What are the best parts of your knowledge strategy?


  1. Are we still as defined by our jobs as we were hundreds of years ago? If not, what defines us to the world today?

  2. Good point!

    I read that the French think Americans defined themselves by their jobs, er calling, er occupation.

    What is interesting to me is, let's say you are a doctor. Look at how much new information is available that could really help your patients, and getting it is beyond the time you can spend. That goes in many (or most?) jobs today. That damned internet is gonna wreak havoc on cocktail hour!

  3. Knowledge is great but knowing people who have specific knowledge is better. You don't have to know everything (even some think they do). You just have to know people who have the knowledge that will share.

    This goes back to something my father told me when I was young. I asked him if he knew how to do something. I can't remember what. He told me that no he didn't know but he knew people that knew exactly how to do it and could hire them to do the job. Money isn't the root of evil - it allows to freedom to hire experts who they know to get the job done right the first time. The heartstone of good management.

  4. I think you're all wrong...

    Well - that is too harsh; however, you're are discussing knowledge and information interchangeably (which they are not) and wisdom not at all.

    The internet provides us with a lot of information but very little knowledge. The people I really want to have around me are those with wisdom. Information technology has done nothing to increase wisdom that I can see (or at least, very little).

    If we concentrated on increasing our wisdom, then we might all do less stupid things with our knowledge chasing ever more information thinking it is the route to money!

    - AJ

  5. Hi Alex!

    Thank you for your comment!

    I do use Russell Ackoff's Data/Information/Knowledge/Wisdom model elsewhere.

    What really got me started on this post was Joe's observing that a philosophical framework made information more understandable, and seeing that when the philospohical framework was removed, ugliness ensued.

    I am honored to hear from an "It's a COBOL World" reader! *grin*

  6. Ah - you are saying that without at least one structured epistemology, one has no true ontology. Agreed! Common sense is not enough.

    I feel this goes to my point on computer modelling (see we, as a 'western' culture are loosing sight of the importance of philosophy.

    Indeed, I would go further and state that the largest problems of our time are now philosophical, not scientific (or theological for that matter).

    Most people 'know' that there is a god or that there is not (people don't have to know things that agree!).

    Most educated people 'know' that pollution and environmental degradation are not good things.

    Most scientists will spout off a lot of informative stuff about both the subjects above .

    But - IMHO - it is philosophy which can lead us to understand what we should do about all this stuff we know.

    More discussions like this one! Please :)

  7. To look at it another way, as Stephan Sagmeister discussed in a lecture at the Corcoran last night,

    Job: Done for money, 9-5.

    Career: Advancement and promotion.

    Calling: Intrinsically fulfilling.

    So the question is, if one is seeking knowledge, is it just to get ahead, or is it because you enjoy searching for the knowledge itself?

    And, yes, having an ethos helps than use that knowledge.

  8. Hi Deane!

    Okay, that's two frameworks that have come from the comments on this post! Comments are the bigger value of the discussion for the author! This is neat!

    Thank you!

  9. Knowledge (education) in itself is not the answer. It is how you use the knowledge.

    Philosophy is to use knowledge. The wise will deduct a conclusion, whether he/she knows a lot or little may have little impact of the quality of the decision.

    Granted, wast knowledge scales your ability to draw conclusions. But it does not imply conclusions are right.

    The wise, but humble will recognize the significance of listening, that there is always another side.

    The wise, but ignorant will dismiss others.

    In this, you can mix in personal desire, which will cloud the judgment.

    There is no simple answer.

  10. maybe there is:

    simple and effective...