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What Knowledge Looks Like

Defining knowledge is a pain. Perspective is everything…but only to the extent that it aligns to the use intended. David Weinberger provides an illustration of how we come to “know” that a beetle is a member of a particular species: What knowledge looks like: “No one part of this system — ranging from pins and red labels to an institutional commitment that’s spanned generations — is knowledge. All of it together is.”
One of the elements missing in this view (though perhaps it is implicit) is how the fields and aspects of knowledge link and connect…and how the knowledge itself was created through social interactions and dialogue. The end product of knowledge is nice…but the process of acquiring (I like “connecting” better) knowledge is where all the fun stuff happens (i.e. where knowledge gets “life”). The hierarchy of knowledge is much less intriguing than the life of knoweldge. For example, it may be nice to know how beetles are classified…but for knowledge to be useful, I’m interested more in watching a live beetle do what live beetles do. Classifying is an example of what is wrong with our views of knowledge…actionability is critical.