Monday, June 23, 2008

Knowledge Management: Emerging Ideas On Knowledge Types

The wide popularity and adoption of Web 2.0 applications, with the information sharing, repository development, social bookmarking, community tagging, community-build information bases makes an understanding of information, knowledge, and knowledge development vital. Otherwise, the information and knowledge collected and combined can collapse into chaos. Perhaps the most obvious knowledge management concept when looking at social networks (wikis, bookmarking, etc.) is to look at knowledge as a social construct. However, this may not be the most useful for purposes of classification for retrieval, and for ranking knowledge from the point of view of usefulness or commercial viability.


So, as a result, several ideas about knowledge and knowledge management have emerged. A brief overview may be helpful, along with a list of useful references for further study. In a recent article, Maria Jakubik (2007) discusses knowledge and knowledge management ideas. Further, her article, which was published in the Journal of Knowledge Management, includes flowcharts that trace the evolution of ideas, as well as a diagram that relates the four emerging ideas to each other.

Jakubik identifies four categories of knowledge management ideas: ontological, epistemological, commodity, and community.

Ontological: The ontological perspective suggests that knowledge is concerned with the nature of reality. Criteria of measurement and evaluation have to do with understanding the nature of the knowledge and the "reality." Is it external? Objective? Ontological views of knowledge look at two subcategories:
a. social
b. individual

Epistemological: The epistemological view looks at knowledge management from a scientific perspective, and seeks to develop systems of classification that incorporate the logic(s) of science, including a "grammar" of science. Is the knowledge explicit? Is it tacit?

Commodity: In this case, knowledge is an asset. As such, its value depends on its utility. In this case, instead of relying on the logic(s) of science, one would look at economics, particularly microeconomics.

Community: Perhaps the most commonly addressed in contemporary discussions of knowledge and knowledge management, this view suggests that knowledge is a function of community interactions. The underpinning concept is the social construction of reality, and the notion that knowledge is socially determined. While this is undoubtedly useful as a knowledge management philosophy, there are limitations, particularly when needing to create classification schemes that respond to an object's usefulness.

Knowledge Management (KM) is a dynamic, quickly evolving field. As collaboration, peer review, sharing, and modification occur in web applications and information manipulation and retrieval, then it will be necessary to develop more schemes and to refine them in an ongoing way.


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