What do we define knowledge as? This is a good starting place before we get into the topics of Knowledge Management and Collaborative Technologies.
I feel knowledge is something that we know. Maybe this is not completely correct either, as how do I know that I know something? In this sense knowledge could mean perception or belief. There are many times in history when a belief was sold to many and changed events thereafter. Knowledge is truth for the group that believes it to be the truth at the time. It does not have to be knowledge of the truth as it can be knowledge of fraudulent assumptions. It is concepts of anything really, as long as we believe them to be concepts. Knowledge is something that is accepted as factual for us or for our point of reference in the world.
OK, I have visited the thesaurus. Knowledge is not just facts, but can also correlate to ability. We often sell our ability in the job market based on what we know. Knowledge can also come in the form of doctrine, dogma, education, facts, philosophy, science, and other more tangible and measurable definitions. The last thing hitting me out of this thesaurus is wisdom and education. I’m now seeing perhaps 3 types of knowledge: what we can offer, what we possess, and what we have learned. These are all parts of the same thing which boil down to knowledge being something of value, at least to the business world.
I have honed my definition to be shorter and more generic: “Knowledge is something of value to someone at some time”. My brother is perhaps the best authority in the world on Napoleon, but how do we assess value on this? I’m not sure it has as much value these days at it once did, but this probably would apply to the mass and not the select. The same may be said of studying the literary greats like Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chaucer, or Milton … Knowles, Salinger, Twain or Steinbeck. How many of the younger generation are actively pursuing from this list? The value may go up or down depending upon the group you are applying the question to. Whatever our interests or beliefs, are they not of some value to us if we hold them within our thoughts and memory? The aspect of value may increase or decrease but it still is part of my definition. So I again turn to my definition of knowledge as “something of value to someone at some time.”