Re: Emergent Learning LO2118

Jim Michmerhuizen (
Sat, 15 Jul 1995 16:30:21 +0059 (EDT)

Replying to LO2110 --

On Fri, 14 Jul 1995 wrote:

> Replying to LO2072 --
> "Fleece fondling," as Michael colorfully puts it, comes in different
> flavors. When I was controller of a manufacturing division, I routinely
> would give various financial reports to the division general manager.
> These reports were, of course, mostly generated by some computer-based
> information system or personal computer spreadsheet.
> Whenever, this GM got a report for the first time, and then occasionally
> thereafter, he insisted on manually reconstructing the report himself. In
> this way, he "fondled" the data and the data-digestion process and gained
> a real "feel" (i.e., tacit understanding) for what the numbers represented
> and for the reality that the report symbolized. We were pretty good at
> avoiding outright arithmetic mistakes, but I hate to admit the number of
> times he found significant logical "misrepresentations." I, quickly,
> learned to do this myself and, therefore, became a much better advisor to
> the GM and his staff, but even so, his "fondling" always brought out some
> important insight that came from his unique experience and viewpoint.

This is an exciting post. The story of the fleece inspector that Bernard
originally posted is on its way to mythical status: it has become an icon
of what we mean by "tacit" knowledge. Podolsky, in this post, makes an
astonishing generalization from this. In his story, the role of the
fleece is played by computer-generated data reports!

If we agree that this too is an instance of tacit knowledge - I vote yes,
but it might take some discussion to settle that - then it follows that:

a) tacit knowledge is not necessarily sensory. I'd assumed, when I first
thought about it in the "fondling" post, that it was;
b) tacit knowledge can relate to explicit in far more complex ways than I
had realized. In this story, for example, the tacit knowledge
_follows_ the explicit, rather than preceding it.

Are there any other comparable stories out there?

     Jim Michmerhuizen
     web residence at
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