Re: Hierarchy Wisdom...Data LO3849

Gordon Housworth (
Sat, 25 Nov 1995 15:32:34 -0500

Replying to LO3805 --


At 12:30 22/11/1995 -0500, you wrote:
>Replying to LO3734 --

>I enjoyed your discussion of "point-sensitive knowledge," "agile
>providers," and the current political situation as it relates. It seems
>to me, however, that nearly all of your comments dealt with the
>acquisition of quickie information, while the quote with which you
>concluded makes much of "deeper" matters--general knowledge, the
>relativity of values, the contextual nature of meaning, etc.

I'd wager that the majority of today's commercial seekers would actually
be thrilled to get "quickie information" in response to their reply, in
that most of the tools on offer today give them "quickie data" -- and
barely differentiated data at that. I am speaking about a migration that,
under technology push and market pull, that can, and will, move to the
delivery of "quickie knowledge." The providers that lead that migration
will make a bloody packet, regardless of the interests of the likes of you
and I who treasure a more fulsome seeking of broader knowledge.

My original post spoke to an educational-industrial environment already in
a state of flux, a rising pressure to show relevance in the products on
offer to the commercial consumer, individual and company, and an enormous
convergence towards the provision of immediately applicable guidance (call
it point knowledge if you wish).

I live with industrial firms, and one automotive OEM in particular, that
speaks of knowledge gathering but whose middle and upper middle management
desperately wants playbooks of immediately practical/tactical "stuff."
"Don't speak to me of next year, or next quarter," they say, "but what can
I get today to help me with today's problems." I had the opportunity to
ask the two most senior individuals responsible for the career development
of the firm's executive ranks that if they "could wave a magic wand, what
would they ask for to revolutionize their educational needs?" The answer
took me aback for what I felt was a lack of vision, but their reply was
immediate: "Make it take less time (with the presumption of less cost),
make it more immediate, and make it so that we don't have to bring them
together so often."

I doubt that their definition of knowledge is the same one that you and I
would converge around, but they are the buyer, and not ourselves. Any
seller has a winner on their hands regardless of industry segment, if they
can "sell the dream" and then step-wise implement that dream with a series
of products and services that continue to meet and, better yet, anticipate
the needs of the customer. If data/information/knowledge providers can
tap the need for actionable, point sensitive ("quickie") information, they
can secure the opportunity to work towards the provision of those as yet
unattainable goals of the __"deeper" matters -- general knowledge, the
relativity of values, the contextual nature of meaning, etc.__

Let me leave you with a simple example -- the current Net search engines
on offer. I've been finding that many of the best source hits are not the
first items served up but really start after the first 20 or 30 hits and
then drops off after 100 or 150. A discussion with older colleagues
unearthed very similar results from college library data scans in the
1960s. The first hits were either spot on or were "cute," almost designed
by their key words to pop up. Then came the really relevant hits, which a
thoughtful reader could mentally connect. After that the inevitable
decline of relevance set in. (The "search algorithms" of some of these
engines are simplistic in the extreme.) By my definition, these search
engines give me data and not knowledge -- and I pity the impatient that
check the first 25 hits and move on. But surely as I pen this, we will be
able to create PsychoBots that can mimic my reasoning and interests, can
anticipate and prioritize things of interest to me, and can even "reason"
with me to encourage me to look at certain things "for which I currently
have no time."

And I shall be pleased to check in with your home page.

Best regards, Gordon

Gordon Housworth <>