Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Future Risks of Knowledge Acquisition

Anyone who knows me realizes that the ever-present knowledge crisis are key to my messages. Today I want to take a completely different approach...

I want to provide the rationale for NOT developing solutions to address knowledge management. I will address this from two angles: knowledge completeness and knowledge behaviors.


If every person since The Enlightenment (post 18th century...I will not go off on a John Locke, Socrates or Newtonian diatribe) uploaded all their ideas, facts and beliefs into a master database we might have an interesting body of knowledge to work with. I have discussed in previous posts the 4 C's of the knowledge management problem: completeness, currency (temporal), credibility and correctness (Note: I wanted to add semantics but that only had a "C" sound and failed marketing approval. So, how shall we resolve differences of belief and fact? We all know two witnesses to an event (1) perceive things differently (2) retell the facts inconsistently. Do we take the democratic approach and 51% belief = TRUTH? Or perhaps we take a more Madisonian approach and filter out the riff-Raff and only analyze the leaders and people with PhD's? Perhaps survival of the fittest, trust knowledge from people that had least number of car accidents, medical bills and lived to be 100. I let you mull on that later... The key message is that no matter how much knowledge gets captured it will be incomplete, stale the moment its recorded and subject to influence of perception and the inherent human ERORR factor. So the problem we need to tackle is how to get a realistic amount of knowledge captured and readily make it available at the right time and with the right context. The imagery of some blending of the Star Trek Borg with a Stargate SG-1 and Mr. Smith from The Matrix. (I know some Sci-Fi junky out there actually gets what I just said...) come to mind.


AKA lets think about the future, we have no need for:

  • Books...because we will download information on demand from chips hooked into our brains.

  • Writing...because everything will come with some form of keyboard. Cursive will have become a interesting fad of the past.

  • Independent thought...because if information was good enough for the 789.9 trillion people before us.

  • Creativity...because without independent thought we have no new ideas. Ideas are bad, conformance to standard is good.

  • Progress...Walt Disney would have been the most disappointed. There is no "great big beautiful tomorrow..." "it can't any better than this."

  • Competition...the guy next to you and the business across town have access to the same ideas, so by now people and businesses have carved out there unique niche in the world and capitalism was retired with the mini-Ice Age in 90 years.

  • Emails, Blogging, Wikis and newspapers. I mean really, how old school can you get.

  • My favorite: Making mistakes. Humans are presented with knowledge across all there senses. Yes, young children will be told not to touch the stove...and at age 9 they look around and see how quickly they can rebel against their parents to see if they were right...Yeow! Fact is that most people learn the best from mistakes. Me too. I know that if I push too hard on a pencil the tip snaps. I also know we made a big mistake with that whole asbestos as a great insulation idea. Thomas Edison got this one. Making mistakes gets us closer to invention and teachs what to avoid next time. 1 + 1=3. As its been said before me, there is a fine line between genius and stewpid and its only by risking the illogical that we uncover the "new" or the last of my sacrifice list...

  • Innovation. Then again we can always hire consultants.


In the future we will wipe ourselves off the face of the planet. After going through an era of incredibly boring sets of generations becoming of overly logical Vulcans suffering from severe depression and exhausting the capability of the pharmaceutical industry to keep up... one major change in the Earth will wipe us out. We will encounter aliens, a super virus, super addictive drug, experience climate change or get smacked by a N.E.O. and because it wasn't in the forecast models...we did not change, we did not learn, we failed to evolve. The human species will disappear. Some alien race will fool us into helping us by jacking into out central systems, suck out the goodness and leave us like a planet of deflated human balloons reminiscent of Pink Floyd The Wall movie. The sad thing is most will never see it coming. Its a gradual shift every 3-5 years and not a big bang things. If only we had a John Connor or Neo to send forward to save us! Then again, perhap one has been sent...


Blogger James McGovern said...

I bet you haven't noticed that many IT folks don't actually write in cursive and instead use print...

9:08:00 AM  
Blogger JT said...

Great point James.
Then again its easier for the OCR software to scan our post-it-notes and electronic whiteboard narrative.

7:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jakada said...

how to get a realistic amount of knowledge captured and readily make it available at the right time and with the right context:

some straight through rules; a few dynamic checklists; a plan for master data management with an underlying emergent architecture:

"not to get the business to evolve in an architecturally
compliant way, but rather to create an architecture that supports the business evolution"

7:02:00 PM  
Blogger sandy said...

I realize that this is completely the wrong place to post this, but there's no contact link on your blog. Could you update your blog roll to show my current blog location? I moved from ebizQ to my own domain back in June.


4:07:00 PM  
Blogger Top IT Consultant said...

Okay, I get the Borg/Smith reference, but I don't understand the leap you made between knowledge and disappearance of creativity and original thought. I'm not sure we were made to function without independent thought. Not for too long anyway.

In any case, good luck with the software. :)

TopITC Trek Junkie

9:59:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I'd like to take slight exception to the following (although I know where you're coming from):

"Ideas are bad, conformance to standard is good."

I would change it to "Ideas are inefficient, conformance to standard is efficient.

I'm a big believer that a certain amount of inefficiency is good for any organization, as long as it's accounted for in planning.

9:46:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Completely agree with Steve's point. The one thing that really needs to be comtemplated (and I'm not going to go into a Descartian diatribe here either) is what is the purpose of human life?

Surely, it's not to efficiently perform some type of process.

I think what's missing is that we frequently get confused between the purpose of the things we've created to "help" us and our own purpose.

I'm fine with computers not having independent thought - just not with me losing independent thought.

On another note, you misspelled their in your mistakes section... Thought it was a funny/ironic place to make that mistake.. or was it.

3:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Indiguru said...

I agree with you about writing. Here comes the tough one; you seem to be using there instead of "their" at least in 2places within this post! I see this a lot in US (from all sources of communications!). Oh well! Thanks for listening.

4:28:00 PM  

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