Managing Knowledge – or not

I think we’ve pretty much established that the management of knowledge depends a lot on how you define knowledge. If you define knowledge as some type of commodity rather than a dynamic flow, management is much more plausible. It just makes sense that if you regard knowledge as a dynamic flow, any plan to manage it becomes much more involved.

Over the course of this semester, I’ve reached my own conclusion that knowledge is a dynamic thing that is dependent upon there being a knower, is completely unique to that knower, and cannot be managed in traditional classification schemes. After reading the article about Communities of Practice by Wenger and Snyder, however, I think it’s much more realistic to talk about managing the creation of knowledge. As knowledge is created, so can new data sets be gathered and new information made available. This information can, in turn, be managed in all those ways that information professionals espouse.

The concept of knowledge management has a certain air of micromanagement to it. Wenger talked about not being able to tug on a cornstalk to make it grow faster or yanking a marigold out of the ground to see if it has roots. In the same way, you can’t dictate the creation of knowledge. It just happens. You can add a little fertilizer, make sure there’s access to sunlight and water, and you can pull out the weeds. All of those things may make everything grow better but they don’t make anything grow.

I may be one of the few people that are actually glad that we can’t do everything. Knowledge gets to take its place with dark matter and the “theory of everything” and God; existing without our complete comprehension and outside our control.


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