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Lunch metaphor

The bottleneck is very close to the top.

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Writing and acting

It is sure important to write things down. But sometimes we think writing down things will make the things we write down come true. My favorite example is TQM-systems implemented in a mechanical way in knowledge organizations. Sure some people get a kick (and quite a few some money) out of doing that exercise, but I think the most clever of them do realize that it is just a theater as long as they are dealing with a complex system.

Here is a nice note on the matter, by Chris Collinson:

We know more than we can ever tell,
we tell more than we can ever write down,
and we write down more than we ever act upon.

And all of us who don’t only live in a fantasy world know that it’s action that counts.

The first two rows are borrowed, from Polanyi and Snowden, the third is Collinson’s own.

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Hey – that’s me!

Harold Jarche is one of my primary sieves when it comes to capture useful viewpoints expressed somewhere on the (anglophone) web. And then he usually adds value to these by commenting on them.

Yesterday he pointed to a list by Neal Gorenflo that contains the main attributes of a knowledge worker. It was almost scary to read – I recognize myself in every aspect.

  • Knowledge workers understand information as currency. Sharing is a core strategy for success even in a corporate context. This can bring knowledge workers to the commons. 
  • Their worldview is informed by systems thinking or is polyglot. It’s not informed by a single political ideology.
  • They understand that influence depends on the ability to persuade, and that choice of language is important. They will not use political language that has been marginalized. They’re all in this sense salespeople.
  • Knowledge workers can become moderate radicals, meaning they believe that fundamental change is needed but are politically a mixed bag, they borrow ideas from left and right, from religion, from science. And they have friends and relatives on both side of the political spectrum.
  • They do not have stable identities or their identities are not wrapped up in a single belief system. They are always wondering who they are. This is a source of angst.  But what they lack in identity, they make up for in opportunity. They have options.

And in Swedish I would like to call a knowledge worker ”kunskapare”.

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Change11 and 7 primitives of scholarship

I participate (or rather lurk at this stage) in Change11, a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) organized by the eminent canadiens George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier. I also participated in the first MOOC ever, CCK08, together with 2000+ other people. Quite an experience. This course will continue for 36 weeks (!) and each week is hosted by a different person. This week it’s Martin Weller, who bases his input on a book he just has published, ”The Digital Scholar”. The book is available for free on the internet, and while browsing around I found this useful checklist:

Before we consider definitions of digital scholarship, we should look at concepts of scholarship which they build upon. Unsworth (2000) suggested seven ‘scholarly primitives’. His work was focused around humanities, but he argues that

Primitives refer to some basic functions common to scholarly activity across disciplines, over time, and independent of theoretical orientation … These primitives are the irreducible currency of scholarship, so it should, in principal, be possible to exchange them across all manner of boundaries of type or token. (Unsworth 2000)

His list of primitives is as follows:

  1. discovering – knowledge either through archives or research;
  2. annotating – adding layers of interpretation;
  3. comparing – for example, texts across languages, data sets;
  4. referring – referencing and acknowledging;
  5. sampling – selecting appropriate samples;
  6. illustrating – clarifying, elucidating, explaining; and
  7. representing – publishing or communicating.

A good and practical list. I wonder if there would need to be any changes if you would be describing non-academic knowledge production? It would work as a checklist for journalist too, it seems.

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Look, the Emperor has no clothes!

Wonderful hypothetical conversation between an employer and a prospective employee putting late 20th century working life into perspective.

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On thinking

A good quote from Cognitive Edge’s guest blog:

Thinking that sees its function as making conscious lived experience adds genuine value. It does so by introducing useful distinctions into the undifferentiated mass of experience, thereby giving us influence over what we do. On a second level, thinking allows us to test our distinctions against reality with experiments, which produce second order experience and provide additional food for further refinement through reflection in a trial and error process of conscious evolution.


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There is no solution

There is no solution. Seek it lovingly.

– George Thompson

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Mannen och julgubben

Hörde idag ett talesätt jag av nån anledning inte hört förut: "Mannen har tre åldrar, först tror han på julgubben, sedan tror han inte på julgubben, sist är han själv julgubbe".

Undrar om det samma gäller mannen och Gud?

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Kunskapande – ett definitionsförsök

Kunskapande, är som jag tidigare skrivit ett nygammalt begrepp som det inte finns någon överenskommen definition för även om det under de senaste åren börjat användas mer och mer i svenskan.

Göran Goldkuhl var en av de första som använde begreppet i vetenskaplig text, och senare har bl.a. Bengt Gustavsson och andra aktivt använt det. Goldkuhls definition låter så här:

Kunskapande är målinriktad kunskapsproduktion avsedd att inte bara betjäna en själv utan också andra, och skiljer sig däremot i viss mån från t.ex. lärandet och problemlösandet. I kunskapandet ingår ändå naturligt både lärande och problemlösande.

Det är en utmärkt början. Frågan är dock om kunskapsproduktionen måste vara målinriktad? Är det inte det vi har forskning – vetenskaplig och annan – respektive utvecklingsarbete för? Jag tycker det vore synd att sätta likhetstecken mellan kunskapande och FoU. Jag tycker kunskapandet borde förstås ännu bredare, kanske så här:

Kunskapande är ett aktivt, kommunicerbart lärande med nyttopotential för andra.

Mycket värdefull kunskap uppstår också utan en klar målinriktning, bara genom att förhålla sig nyfiket till livet och ha en viss reflektionsförmåga. I många fall kan kunskapsproduktion inte planeras på förhand, utan man lär sig "serendipitetiskt" genom reflekterade erfarenheter. Viktigt är däremot generositeten, kunskapandet blir inte mer än lärande om det inte delas.

Om vi tittar på den ursprungliga, historiska användningen av begreppet kunskapare ser vi att det användes för militär spaningsverksamhet. I spaningsverksamhet vet man ju inte vad man skall hitta, all information av värde för uppdragsgivaren samlas in och rapporteras vidare. Men om Goldkuhl med målinriktning snarare menar en bred söksektor än svaret på en viss fråga så kan jag acceptera att kunskapandet är målinriktat.

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I varje ögonblick måste människan på gott och ont bestämma det minnesmärke som skall bestå över hennes liv.

– Viktor Frankl

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