Re: Emergent Learning LO2023

Jim Michmerhuizen (
Mon, 10 Jul 1995 20:13:14 +0059 (EDT)

Replying to LO1944 --

On Wed, 5 Jul 1995, Michael McMaster wrote:

> Tacit (implicit) knowledge cannot be converted into explicit
> knowledge. I make this as an absolute statement for its power in
> declaring it that way. I'm sure some will find exception but the
> exception do not invalidate the statement because it is a pragmatic
> one. When you can show that what I declared is *frequently* not the
> case, then you have something of interest - to me at least.
> One thing I will stand on. This type of knowledge cannot be stored
> in a database. But it can be stored and made accesible.

Oh my. It's impossible not to respond to this. I can even suspect you
of trolling the group.

My position: tacit knowledge is _always_ in process of conversion to
explicit knowledge. That in fact is what happens in the story itself,
and that is the _point_ of the story. In the other direction - from
explicit to tacit - there's also movement, but not always.

- now hold on just a minute, Michmerhuizen. What are you claiming about
- the story when you say that it is a story of tacit becoming explicit?

At the beginning of the story the fleece-evaluation method is implicit.
At the end, it's explicit.

- is that what Michael was talking about? At the end of the story, what
- is _known_ is only that a certain tacit knowledge _exists_ and plays a
- role in the fleece-tester's decisions. The knowledge itself - the feel
- of the wool and how to use that feel - has not been communicated to any-
- one else.

Well, uh. Well, maybe that's what Michael was talking about, ok.

- In fact that's about the only interpretation that could justify the strong
- statement he made.

Ok, let's say you're right. I still want to rummage around a bit. I think
there have got to be examples of tacit knowledge becoming explicit.

- I'm waiting...

Hold your horses. I'm still thinking. ... How about something like
musical knowledge? I mean, not just the technique, but the wisdom of an
old and experienced performer and teacher being communicated to a student.

- Well, ok, that might do, but couldn't it at least reasonably be argued
- that in such a case the communication is still not what we'd call
- "explicit"? And isn't it in fact the case that every example of this
- that we've seen has succeeded _exactly_ because the teacher was able to
- communicate some of this wisdom _without ever rendering it explicit_?

That's hard. I'm going to go on rummaging...

     Jim Michmerhuizen
     web residence at
. . . . There are far *fewer* things in heaven and earth, Horatio,  . . . .
 . . . . .       than are dreamt of in your philosophy...        . . | _ .