Thursday, January 31, 2008

Risk and success

One wonders about the following: The most successful people are those willing to risk failure.

Of course such statements focus all attention on the meaning of success and thus become almost tautological. Rather, one would like to say that to be interesting, a learner must engage in areas without clear answers. But there is an arrogance to this statement as well.

One person's clarity...

There is something about evidence and risk that we admire in learning/science. It is also present in moral conundrums. A life well-lived is evidential. Self evident. Obvious? Or is it.

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.