Knowledge Databases LO1957

Gary and Lilly Evans (
06 Jul 95 09:29:08 EDT

Replying to LO1933 --

How your past has a habit of catching up with you! The term knowledge
bases immediately transports me back into early 1980's and heady days of
expert systems. However, we have all "expanded our horizons" since, so I
can safely leave this baggage behind.

Mike McMaster says in his message (in reply to LO1888):
> ... It's not the respository nor the content but the process. Groupware
> is going to sweep this field for a significant while because, it seems to
> me, it puts knowledge into a dynamic process rather than focussing
> on a database.

This raises an interesting connection with networks and living systems in
general. Contrary to what we have thought for a very long time, it now
turns out that the strength of a network is not in its nodes but in the
wealth of its connections. Equally, the ability to recover certain brain
functions, once specific regions have been damaged, critically depends in
the richness of the paths that have been in existence prior to the injury.
So, knowledge, as ability to manipulate information for purposeful
decision making, is not static but flowing. Hence, I contend that no
"database" (in the traditional sense) can really capture more than
underlying information.

>And, even better, using groupware both demands that we work
>differently and provides the means for working differently. I think
>there's more gold in these hills for corporate culture change than
>most of our other development efforts.

This bit reminds me of a suggestion offered to us when we visited Prof. Ed
Schein at MIT. When asked how to approach changing the organisational
culture in a sustainable way, he suggested "Put easy to use, networked
PC's on people's desks." People will then discover for themselves the
opportunities this presents. So, we got all in the corporate center at BP
Group in 1990 on Apple Macs.

However, this was just a start - somehow the established IT priesthood was
not going to let go and allow simple groupware type applications. The
case of vested interest in developing a "corporate repository" with 200
people fully employed (we had over 500 to find jobs for at the time), vs
five people helping to support users in communicating through groupware.

What kind of a knowledge base does this forum represent? Or is it a form
of a virtual organisation?


lilly evans

_____________________________________________________________________ "Mentalities cannot be changed by decree, because they are based on memories, which are almost impossible to kill. But it is possible to expand one's memories by expanding one's horizons, and when that happens, there is less chance that one will go on playing the same old tunes for ever and repeating the same mistakes." Theodore Zeldin