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Subject: Capturing tacit knowledge in conservation

Capturing tacit knowledge in conservation

From: Lisa Mibach <lm<-a>
Date: Thursday, December 20, 2007
Effective Application of Knowledge Management in Evidence-based
Chinese Medicine: A Case Study

  <URL:http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/nem124v1#top>

I have been working in the field of knowledge management (KM) for
some years in the government of Canada. My interest in this area
stemmed from a concern about the loss of knowledge in the field of
conservation: in the early days, "everybody knew" whose work was
reliable, and which materials were not good to use (e.g. soluble
nylon), so this was not written down. As those who "knew" retired,
new students have wasted time going up blind alleys, and we have
seen some unfortunate misapplications of information and materials,
as well as a general loss of creativity as the codification of
information conveys authority to what is written.

Definitions: KM has been adopted as a marketing term by database
vendors and Information Management enthusiasts. Within the KM field,
there is a clear separation between tacit and explicit knowledge,
with "tacit" K being what is in people's heads, and "explicit" K
being what is written down. This was an early definition, which
inadvertently led to more confusion.

My own definition is that "knowledge" is what is in your head that
allows you to make sense of, contextualize, and use "information"
that is written down.

The article linked to above has finally presented a plausible
structure for capturing knowledge as well as information;
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) seems to me to be a plausible
model, as its core has been experience and oral teaching in a way
that parallels the field of conservation.

One of the interesting organizational components is the
classification of information into core, advanced and innovative
categories.

Bob Barclay's retirement and Caroline Keck's death remind me that
our tacit knowledge is imperiled; this model might allow us to
capture some of what is left.

If you think of an organization that could take this on as a
project, please pass this along.


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Received on Thursday, 20 December, 2007

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