Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
T.S. Eliot, Choruses from “The Rock”. 1934.
This line from T.S. Eliot’s The Rock, seems to perfectly frame the question facing many organizations. We live in an era of unprecedented information access (quantity and choices of source) and yet access alone does not result in the creation of knowledge. To the contrary, in some ways, it might be impeding the recognition of knowledge and it’s transfer. It’s the proverbial signal versus noise problem. More is more, but more is not better.
This is a human challenge. People are critical to the process of converting information into intelligence and knowledge. This may sound esoteric but consider the practical implications. Co-workers struggle to keep up with the information generated by their teams let alone relevant information from outside their organizations that is widely recognized as the most critical for innovation. Communicators struggle to get their messages through the noise to the people who care.
Having worked on these problems for a few years, my impression is that it is changing. That the foundation is being laid for tools for discernment and engagement. I believe the most effective tools are built to augment human expertise rather than replace it. For a pragmatic example consider solutions that allow subject matter experts to efficiently identify and communicate highly relevant information to narrow audiences with particular information needs. This creates multiple layers of value by enhancing the capability of both the subject matter expert as well as those in the audience. It allows them to say — here is the knowledge in that information.