Diane Berry
SVP, Market Strategy

Any discussion of evolving the definition of Knowledge Management should include — as Mary Adams points out — a definition of Knowledge.  I am not claiming authorship here; nor am I negating other definitions of knowledge (certainly I would have some difficulty arguing with Plato that knowledge is not “justified true belief;” rather, I am paraphrasing published definitions):

Knowledge is a human capacity to take action under conditions of uncertainty.

I’ve seen (and in some cases participated in) some interesting discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere about the nature of knowledge recently, particularly related to IBM’s Watson, or even the Borg of Star-trek fame–one of which presented machine information as knowledge. I might argue that machine-generated “knowledge” is really machine-generated information, or even mashups of information, which may be correlated, and had logic applied to it — but I tend to agree with Peter Drucker that knowledge, as he said so long ago, is “between the ears and only between the ears.”

There are three types of knowledge usually referenced; I would say that explicit knowledge may be better termed as information but will include it here:

Explicit: That which is set out in tangible form—codified in documents, books, files, databases, spreadsheets, web, social media.

Implicit: That which is not set out in tangible form but could be made explicit. Lessons learned databases cater to the capture and storage of implicit knowledge.

Tacit or expert: That which one would have extreme difficulty operationally setting out in tangible form. It is woven inside the mind and gained through experience.

How would you define Knowledge?  Would you agree that explicit knowledge is really information? How do you think about machine generated information?

About Diane Berry

Diane Berry is Senior Vice President of Market Strategy at Coveo. Diane seeks out and analyzes market, industry and economic opportunities for growth; works with the analyst community as well as media; and acts as a spokesperson and industry voice to help organizations understand how to leverage advanced search-based apps to transform the nature of work.

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