440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 21:23:31 -0800

04 00067 61 00111701

Mr. Mark McElroy
Governing Council
Knowledge Management Consortium, International
312 Fairgrove Terrace, Suite 200
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Subject:   Theory of Knowledge

Dear Mark,

Congratulations on tackling an important subject in KMCI course curriculum referenced in your letter today.

On July 16, 2000 Professor Joseph Ransdell, Texas Tech, advised that developing a useful theory of management that accounts for communication and human experience has eluded academics and practitioners since the 17th century.

This past year Doug Engelbart has led an ad hoc team meeting at SRI in a project to develop a Dynamic Knowledge Repository (DKR), based on a tool set being called an OHS. This effort draws on Doug's life's work to use technology and systems that provide continual advance in the competency of people and organizations to solve complex problems.

Doug has been awarded the National Medal of Technology and will received this recognition, along with other honorees, at an event hosted by President Clinton in Washington D.C. on 001201.

An issue that comes up in the DKR project is distinguishing KM from IT. For example, on May 18, 2000 Peirce's work in semiotics was presented at SRI, and a theory of knowledge and meaning was discussed....

Later, on June 15, the team was less certain about how to distinguish knowledge from traditional information technology for meetings, email, data mining, AI, cell phones, Palm Pilots, Lotus Notes, paper piled on the desk, etc.

It appears that KMCI's curriculum can provide guidance. Has KMCI settled on a definition that distinguishes knowledge from information, and can you suggest an example of work being done that illustrates this idea? This comes up because ontology is thought by some to be a distinguishing feature of KM. Some people call this categories or subjects, and some speak of an evolutionary epistemology, while others point to the idea of taxonomy.

On January 13, 2000 I asked the president of KMCI, Ed Swanstrom, about these matters, and he indicated that KMCI is working hard to formalize KM, but has not yet resolved the foundational matters that Doug's DKR team is addressing.

Doubtless, KMCI has made a lot of progress since last January. Will all this be covered in the course you are offering that explains a theory of knowledge?

Any help is greatly appreciated. By copy, I am alerting the OHS/DKR team about your important work, and look forward to hearing from you.




Rod Welch

Copy to:

  3. John T. Maloney