The Challenge of Fluid Knowledge

Fluid Context of Knowledge

As time and technology have progressed, a new challenge facing knowledge management practices has become increasingly apparent; namely, the fact that context has become more fluid than ever before. With information readily available at our fingertips has come a new culture of learning, requiring a shift in paradigms of knowledge management. New methods of viewing and solving problems are being developed rapidly, and it has become difficult to keep up.

Applying new methods of knowledge management has become increasingly necessary over the past few years. In his book Too Big to Know, David Weinberger said,

“We used to know how to know. We got our answers from books or experts. We’d nail down the facts and move on. But in the internet age, knowledge has moved onto networks. There’s more knowledge than ever, but it’s different. Topics have no boundaries, and nobody agrees on anything.”

This has resulted in context becoming a lot more fluid, presenting a new challenge to the world of knowledge management, namely, how to capture not only content, but also context.

Challenge of Tacit Knowledge

The other difficulty presented is that knowledge has become much more tacit, and is no longer just about facts, but rather about experience. Knowledge is not just passed on through documents and manuals, but through social constructs, such as stories. One advantage is that, in this manner, knowledge is continually refined through experience and through hearing others speak about their experiences. A downside:  it becomes increasingly difficult to capture and pass on this type of knowledge to a much larger group of people, who may benefit greatly.

What About Best Practices?

Another challenge facing knowledge management with the arrival of more fluid context is that it has become more difficult to implement “best practices” as they don’t transfer well. Because context is so rapidly changing, it has become increasingly difficult to transplant knowledge of best practices. This is due in large part to the nature of knowledge being tacit rather than explicit.

With rapidly changing contexts, it is a challenge to apply best practices, therefore introducing a need to implement new technology and methods in order to capture and share knowledge.   Our next post will address these concepts in more detail.

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