I believe we make sense of the world…

January 27, 2009 — Leave a comment

…instead of the other way around: the world makes sense.  It’s a question of philosophy, but one that’s essential when it comes to knowledge management, at least where I work.  

It’s been a crazy week, and all signs point to it continuing, but I wanted to get a post out on this topic because this difference in philosophy is something I feel strongly about.  

The title and opening sentences of this post are brought on by this article.  For me, the opening and ending sections are the real eye-openers.  The reason it hits home is because we have some ontological efforts going on at work, and as I was reading this article a simple phrase kept popping into my head…’YES!’

Even without a lot of thought (unfortunately, that happens all to frequently with me), it only makes sense that the effort required to classify  the different types of electronic ‘objects’ that exist at work would be monumental.  Seems like a never ending task, akin to a dog chasing its tail.  Is it worth it?  Does it make business sense?  I’m not sure; it seems like over-engineering or over-architecting from where I’m standing.  

Why would a company do this?  I’ve been using the example of the drill vs. the hole in the wall a lot lately.  Makes sense to use it in this case as well.  What are we really getting after with all of this classification?  what’s our hole in the wall?  I’m pretty sure I know what it is and I don’t think we need the ontology-drill to get at it.  

I like the solution the author, Clay Shirkey, provides:  let the users classify the data through tags.  I’m a social media guy, so I guess I’d choose a social media drill.  But it just seems like a lot less work and risk that would give you the same result.  The difference in philosophy here is really dictatorship vs. democracy, command & control vs. power to the edge , the individual vs. the market, and the side you fall on dictates the drill you will use.

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