HBR Tuesday February 2, 2010 by David Weinberger
The data-information-knowledge-wisdom hierarchy seemed like a really great idea when it was first proposed. But its rapid acceptance was in fact a sign of how worried we were about the real value of the information systems we had built at such great expense. What looks like a logical progression is actually a desperate cry for help.
I’m catching up on some reading and finding some good stuff as usual from David Weinberger, perhaps best known for his recent book “Everything is Miscellaneous”.
See some of my Tweets for other links to David’s “Everything is Miscellaneous” blog postings and it is his recent article (below) in the Harvard Business Review that seemed to warrant more than a Tweet. And with typical serendipity and synchronicity I find out that my colleagues Harold Jarche and Stephen Downes have also been reading and commenting on this one.
This is all well worth reading an in particular the points Weinberger makes in the last 2 paragraphs:
"But knowledge is not a result merely of filtering or algorithms. It results from a far more complex process that is social, goal-driven, contextual, and culturally-bound.
The real problem with the DIKW pyramid is that it's a pyramid. The image that knowledge (much less wisdom) results from applying finer-grained filters at each level, paints the wrong picture. That view is natural to the Information Age which has been all about filtering noise, reducing the flow to what is clean, clear and manageable. Knowledge is more creative, messier, harder won, and far more discontinuous.”
I think David’s observations that knowledge is much messier and discontinuous will resonate strongly with most of us. The concept of “flow” and “streams” which are becoming more obvious and talked also match up well and I still find great value in the cyclical models such as the SECI model: (see diagram below)
which Nonaka and Takeuchi proposed back in the 90’s remains a very useful one for me, in particular with the constant interchange between tacit and explict knowledge. They also cover the Japanese notion of “Ba” which is a challenging concept to understand but can be defined as “a shared context in which knowledge is shared, created and utilized through interaction.” which matches up well with my experiences and observations.
I don’t expect any sudden outbreak of agreement around these concepts and models, but in our shared pursuit of knowledge and wisdom I’m sure and I hope we will continue to explore and debate them vigorously which these recent articles and postings are doing.