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Defining the Knowledge Economy

Defining the Knowledge Economy: “In broad terms, we know that the knowledge economy is what you get when organisations bring together powerful computers and well-educated minds to create wealth. And we also know that this combination is a new thing in the history of the world: firms in the knowledge economy compete on their ability to exploit scientific, technical and creative knowledge bases and networks.
“The difficulty is coming up with a measurable definition that allows the hype to be tested against hard facts. Around the world, governments talk about the future belonging to ‘knowledge-based industries’ and ‘knowledge workers’ without bothering to question which firms and individuals are in and which are out of these categories…If, as virtually every serious economic commentator believes, the productivity of knowledge-based work is critically important to our future, then it is essential to try and measure knowledge accurately and logically. The slovenly thinking about what constitutes ‘knowledge work’ needs to be challenged.”
The article links to a 31 page .pdf report covering the state of the knowledge economy. I have some concerns with ongoing attempts to define things. Definitions are valuable in that they provide a shared understanding of elements. They are difficult when applied to fast moving targets. By the time we’ve agreed on a definition, the entity has changed. This notion is particularly challenging (as the report does acknowledge in the conclusion) in subject areas as broad as “knowledge”. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to define knowledge. We can define a certain type of knowledge at a certain level…by exploring the context. The more broadly we attempt to define knowledge, the less valuable clear/concise definitions will apply. In the end, it becomes a context-game (sorry to Wittgenstein). Our real challenge today is not to define knowledge specifically, but to spend our efforts in context-games as we seek to explore and identify key elements of the context that impact a particular knowledge interaction. We can know context (though we may not always know the nature of knowledge until we consider it in the form of history).