Information vs. Knowledge

PKaipa at PKaipa at
Sun Oct 3 23:23:36 PDT 1999

I have been researching on learning and knowledge management for a while.
Here are my perspectives on the knowledge and information.

I do look at knowledge to be very different from information. Knowledge
addresses how to (know-how). Information addresses what, where, when and who.
Russ Ackoff gives an example of information being movies being played in your
town. Knowledge being the directions to the movie theatre. To give a bit more
detail, information is structured, ordered data. It gives functionality to
data. Data is like facts, observations and does not have any meaning by
itself. Letters of the alphabet are data points. Words on a page are
information. The instruction or design or recipe that is described by those
words is knowledge. Knowledge has five main characteristics as I see it. It
is subjective, has a collective component, has a tacit component, limited
shelf life and it is a human interpretation.
When knowledge creates meaning or understanding, it is beginning to connect
with values and assumptions. Discriminating and discerning right knowledge
from wrong knowledge is wisdom. Meaning and wisdom begin to answer 'why'
questions whereas knowledge answers 'how' questions.
Stories, metaphors and anologies are knowledge. When to share which story to
whom is wisdom. Wisdom deals with spirit and is deeply connected with spirit.
Knowledge may be about the spirit but might not connect with spirit.
Knowledge could be a left over from a spiritual experience. Intelligence is
dynamic and alive and connected with spirit whereas knowledge is frozen
intellect and might be disconnected from spirit.
We are dealing mostly with information in organizations. We manage
information and search for information and get back information. Knowledge
management involves people, involves tacit as well as explicit knowledge. It
could involve awareness and at its best self-knowledge.
There are very few people who really understand knowledge management.

Finally, open space does create space for knowledge to evolve, flow, get
created and shared meaningfully. When framed appropriately and managed
meaningfully, open space could be very powerful knowledge management

Let me also say, most of the open spaces have become more rigid and
formulaic. I have not seen a good opening in past three four years.

Hope my reflections are useful.

Prasad Kaipa
Mithya Institute for Learning and Knowledge Architecture

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