Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On Imagination and Experience

I posit the following query as a mental exercise.
Consider, if you will, a person, completely blind from birth, never having seen light of any type, knowing only sightlessness.  If asked, how would you describe color to this person?
I will reserve my own answer for it is irrelevant to the point overall however consider yours.  Indeed it would be a difficult task, but why?  Color is a concept familiar to us.  We see color every day and use color to differentiate one thing from another, or one type from another.  Further we can know of colors, their form, absent of their application to matter.  Color may be used in describing a thing known, or in conceiving a thing to be known.  Why then should so familiar a thing be so difficult to portray.

The answer lies in the blind persons lack of experience of color, or of sight at all.  Indeed color is perceived through the sense of sight and we only have experience of color through this sense.  The blind person however has no experience with this sense, no basis on which to know color.  And try as we may, we can only convey an abstraction of color, but can not impart a knowledge of color itself.

Our knowledge is built of our collective experiences, our perception of those experiences, and our rumination thereof.  We can give to our self more knowledge, or deeper knowledge, by building upon that gained by our experience, but we can not give our self knowledge without experience.  That is to say, we can not give our self knowledge from nothing.

What then is left to say of imagination?  For we do certainly contrive those things which do not exist and know them in or mind, and can give to others information about them so that they may know them as well.  But these things which are the objects of our imagination are not brought out of nothing, but are also brought of our own experience.  As an example, consider a dragon, a creature which, in this world, does not exist, but is brought forth from our imagination and made manifest to others.  Even this creature however is not brought fourth from nothing and we can consider its components and their familiarity to our experience (skin like a reptile, facial structure like a horse, wings like a bird, etc).  The objects of our imagination, however far they are from reality, are never so far that they do not extend from our experience.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

On Knowledge and Information


A decent paper focusing on the misuse (and overall meaninglessness) of the phrase "Knowledge Management."  This has given me reason for pause in my own use of the phrase and after some consideration I believe it may be best to cease using the phrase altogether.  

In the interest of definition
Knowledge is that which is known to an individual as gained by the individuals experience and as colored by the individuals perception.  Any attempt to "transfer Knowledge" from one individual to another (as the phrase is used popularly) entails first the transformation of Knowledge into Information via some medium (ie, writing, speaking, etc) and second the consumption of the Information and its interpretation resulting in Knowledge.  It is important to note here however that the Knowledge transferred into Information is not and can not be the same Knowledge known to the consumer of the Information.  It can be similar, and certainly if the Information is clear and the consumer is up to the task of consumption, it will be, but as it is imputed to the individual it will not be the same in two individuals.