Knowledge is the all elusive complex concept. And visuals help represent complex concepts.
So for a change I thought I’d give a commented visit on a number of images about knowledge, found on the net. I don’t necessarily agree with what these images convey, but I have chosen to comment these ones because they seem to be popular on the web and generally in common knowledge.
This first one (the KM phrenology) is one picture that I used in the past – an interesting image because it depicts a lot of issues related to knowledge in the field of knowledge management. But of course it’s not meant to really represent knowledge and the picture is dated (over emphasis on ‘best practices’, looking at portals etc.).
This second picture is much more related to knowledge itself and represents the diversity of attributes associated (the coffee cup) with knowledge, with a higher emphasis on know-how/what/who/why and the definition of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’. It’s a useful image to remember all the angles that people associate knowledge with. A mine field indeed, or a rather spicy cup of coffee.
This third picture is a mini mind map of knowledge from a KM perspective again. It brings together four concepts typically associated with knowledge: tacit knowledge, knowledge conversion, explicit knowledge and information. I have my doubts about a few of these nodes – information and explicit knowledge are the same for me, and the graph itself seems to have been around for a while.
But this graph again puts knowledge at the centre of KM attention and is useful to understand what are some of the key KM concepts associated with it.
The next one (the tree on the world) I quite like, as it represents the proverbial knowledge tree while also resting on the entire world. Somehow the idea that our knowledge is growing as a tree on the basis of global and local interactions is compelling. Let’s just hope that the branches (the results of knowledge) are not outpacing the roots of that knowledge tree (the sources that lead to develop knowledge results).
The next one is the unavoidable depictions of knowledge: knowledge as part of the DIKW pyramid.
It is no less wrong at that though – and I already blogged about this. But here you go: old established fallacies die at long last.
The next selected image (Superman) is another very commonplace portrayal of knowledge and its associations: knowledge is power.
I think this image does true justice to question (by stupidity) this saying which deserves additional caution. Sharing knowledge is more powerful in the age of networks…
Next (the blue face) is one new entry for knowledge which mirrors the first of these images but really focuses on all the insights that lay inside our head and are ready to be called and acted upon.
To me this is perhaps the closest depiction of what knowledge is – insights that can be invoked and used as and when. The image still misses the dimension of the capacity that knowledge brings to use these insights, as I blogged about it earlier, but it’s getting there in my eyes.
And finally, building upon the previous image, what – really – is knowledge without action? A former boss of mine used to always ask ‘knowledge to do what?’ and that’s a bang on question. For that matter, knowledge management has been useless in many cases for failing to answer this simple question. So from this gallery of images, perhaps the most important to retain is that without using knowledge we are not better off with it.
If you have other personal ‘knowledge visualisation favourites’, please share them with me and I will feature them here with due credits!
Related blog posts:
- What the heck is knowledge anyways: from commodity to capacity and insights
- Settling the eternal semantic debate: what is knowledge, what is information?
- Portrait of the modern knowledge worker
- The constant knowledge gardener