The Failure of Knowledge Management

How a misunderstanding about logic dominates IT thinking, when we should be thinking space and time…

Mark Burgess
15 min readJan 2, 2023

Knowing things, as an individual, is the most important part of being alive. Where do we get food and find kin? How do we navigate the terrain? How can we repeat procedures that are successful and avoid repeated others that aren't? We learn, and learning is often a lengthy process. The more times we rehearse or learn a lesson, the better it sits with us and the more we trust its validity. But how does knowledge scale to a group, a company, an institution, even a country? In a world of database thinking and URLs, this is one of the least well understood questions in modern IT.

Knowledge is formed from memories — that much is clear. It can exist within us, and it can be encoded into the environment around us as representations of learning, as hardware (writing or books, roads, and structures) or as software (processes, habits and culture). Memories are everywhere, not only in our brains — indeed, the bulk of memory is outside our minds; but having memories at hand is not the same as knowing something. This is the great misunderstanding about knowledge and its management. A memory has to be assigned meaning — was it something to trust or a note to distrust? Is this literal or metaphorical? Is it a personal experience or a second hand rumour?

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Mark Burgess

@markburgess_osl on Twitter and Instagram. Science, research, technology advisor and author - see Http://markburgess.org and Https://chitek-i.org