Keith May 23rd, 2007
(A brief breather in between job interviews…) Following on from the “definition of knowledge” debate on actKM, there has now been discussion of the various “linear models” that relate knowledge to data, information and more. One of the classics is:
Data – Information – Knowledge – Wisdom
This is also often shown as a pyramid, and there can be more layers – even including “enlightenment”. The model implies “steps” from somehow inferior states to superior states.
I decided some time ago that I didn’t like the data-info-knowledge-xx hierarchy in any of its various forms. It just doesn’t seem to me to be really helpful for any practical (or philosophical) purpose.
I have had less of a problem with data-information as a first step, but I have been interested to learn from Joe Firestone and others on actKM that even my thinking on this one has been strongly influenced by having studied Computer Science. (Disclaimer – I don’t work in IT any more!)
To me, knowledge by any (useful) definition has a whole range of facets not embodied in data or information – it is qualitatively different, and much more to do with cognitive processes.
It has a lot to do with how we use information, but I also support the position that there are other types of knowledge apart from things we learn from “information” – cultural for one. Then there are skills – when we learn how to drive a car, and then with practice do it automatically – is that knowledge?
The linear model also appears to be inconsistent in other ways – it is interesting to note that “data” is plural and “information” is singular. But as I have said before, I am not really interested in strict definitions of these terms.
As a wild grab for a suitable metaphor, I see D-I-K-W as being as meaningful as:
Points – Plane – Geometry – Architecture
But maybe not – that still allows for an ordering of sets and subsets…