Dave's Notes (July 2007)
Some further reflections on the Knowledge Sharing Synergies Workshop
Some interesting ideas were formulated during discussion with other Languaging group members Anette and Lisa.
We made some useful sketches, which would be good to scan in and put up here.
I think (please correct/edit/add) the main points were:
- When transferred between two people, does knowledge temporarily become information until the recipient converts it to knowledge once more?
- To become effective, knowledge requires embodiment in some form, conceptual, emotional or physical.
- To what extent is it possible to use your own language in knowledge-oriented academic settings?
- The possibility of a symbolic language to communicate groups of basic human concepts.
Knowledge of social behaviour through embodiment
We also discussed how social behaviour is learned through embodiment, or through the empathic observation of embodied responses (e.g. I'm learning how they do things here...).
We explored cultural variations in this behaviour, using personal examples based on how people interact with strangers in public places in the following countries: Norway, Japan, France and the UK.
Based on this small sample, the denser populations seem to have evolved more 'polite' social codes covering accidental interaction (e.g. bumping into someone in the street, or entering a shop) than those more sparsely-populated.
Not the kind of thing that can be learned by information in guidebooks, this knowledge of etiquette is perhaps an example of the need for embodiment.
Symbols that represent knowledge
Road signs were taken as an example of information symbols, which prompted a discussion about using symbols to communicate or identify more complex chunks of knowledge. We also identified that most symbols are visual, and discussed the possibilities of scent, sound, touch and other senses.
Scent, in particular, has a highly evolved descriptive language, yet the English vocabulary for colour fails to distinguish, say, between various kinds of red. And before anyone mentions 'Eskimos' or 'Inuit', here is a concise explanation concerning the many words for snow.
The boundary between information and knowledge
At the end-of-day discussion, I made a comment about data and information not requiring a human medium (i.e. they can be stored mechanically), whereas knowledge and wisdom require human embodiment; this suggests a 'veil' or permeable membrane somewhere between information and knowledge.
This membrane is apparent (for example) in the interaction between machine information and human knowledge - the information cannot become knowledge without human cognition (the argument that it may become knowledge in a machine sense implies a debate about artificial consciousness).