Thursday, January 31, 2008

Knowledge and Information

Other than the ubiquitous classification of knowledge as having tacit and explicit components, there is much talk about codified knowledge, embedded knowledge, and embodied knowledge. Codification essentially implies that knowledge can be documented, embedding holds that knowledge can be built into machines and embodiment means that knowledge can be contained in routines, rituals and the like. This implies that knowledge can exist independently even when there are no humans.

My view is different: knowledge only exists in the human brain. It is created when a person uses information to shape expectations. These expectations provide a tool to predict, influence and make sense of the world. When this knowledge is transferred to someone else by lecturing, documenting or showing, it is converted into information which the receiver must convert back into own knowledge. Without conversion on the receiver side, there is no understanding, no knowledge, but only information acquired in parrot fashion. Books are filled with information, not knowledge.

There is one caveat: perhaps animals or spacemen also have knowledge, but that is not the point.

1 comment:

Ryan Lanham said...

I suppose I would buy that knowledge entails a cultural morality. Otherwise, I'm not sure where you are headed. Nothing special about brains and their structure...and much difference within humans. Do autistic people have knowledge? Severely retarded? Why? Why not?

Ryan Lanham