07 December 2005

The language of knowing

I'm a near-convert to the view which holds that our language creates the worlds we live in. So when it comes to the language of 'knowledge management', I believe the words we use to talk about it and the way we talk about it determine what we know about knowing.

Knowledge managment researcher and consultant Larry Prusak touches very briefly on this in his comments on four Greek terms for knowledge - episteme, techne, phronesis and metis. While this may seen arcane to some, he implies that in the absence of such a sophisticated knowledge about knowing, some businesses have wasted tens of billions of dollars on 'knowledge systems'.

I'm sure he's right, and I also think we could look even further at the way our language in this field presupposes certain assumptions. In particular, talking about the subtle implications and possible illusions of reifying a process of knowing into a substance we call 'knowledge', might be another interesting and useful path.

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