Re: Emergent Learning LO2073

Doug Blair (
Wed, 12 Jul 1995 23:35:29 -0700

Replying to LO2051 --

Grant said:

>I have to lean in Michael's direction. I would venture to say that
>knowledge is something that happens in a person's mind. Information is
>something that you store in a database. Such information may help to
>create knowledge, but I have yet to see a database system that does
>anything more 'knowledgeable' than store and manipulate symbols.

Well I'm not sure if it's that important whether or not a database
contains knowledge or information, as long as it *triggers* knowledge in
the reader's mind.

The psych world has some interesting doc on patterns in the mind, and
firing up these patterns for creative purposes.

As an example, a flight instructor was reviewing an emergency checklist
with me years ago. These checklists are basic information. (Achieve
optimum glide slope, choose a place to land, switch fuel tanks, start
backup fuel pump, etc.) Very dry and objective information. Then he asked,
What inputs are required for an engine to operate? Fuel, air, and
ignition. Wow, a light turned on in my head! In an emergency, once the
checklist is complete, I now had an organized outline for problem
determination. With a background in internal combustion engines, this one
simple Q&A triggered knowledge: I could start relating symptoms to my
available controls for each/all of the three inputs, and modify the
knowledge on the fly. And the advice was a simple piece of information
formattable for a database. (Whether anyone would is another matter.)

And think of conversations you've had with friends. There are some in
which the two of you have high "bandwidth" because you know simple words
or phrases which generate complex thoughts and ideas in the other's head.

My point: What difference is it if the database *contains* knowledge or
information, as long as the contents trigger the intended knowledge. The
objective afterall is to get it in the mind of the recepient.

BTW, as this discussion is getting close to semantics I decided to review
the dictionary. These points were included in reference to knowledge:

- Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or
- The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned.
- Specific information about something.
- Knowledge includes facts and ideas, understanding, and the totality
of what is known.

It also mentioned "carnal knowledge," but I think we'll all concede that's
tough to format in a database. :)

It's been nice knowing you guys.

Doug Blair, Houston,