A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Paths to the e-Knowledge Future   © SCUP 2003
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The e-Knowledge Imperative (continued)



Chapter 3

Paths to the
e-Knowledge Future

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  • Communities of practice create, capture and, share tacit knowledge. The World Bank is sometimes now known as “the Knowledge Bank” in recognition of a successful restructure during the 1990s to become a knowledge-based institution, involving stakeholders, staff, and clients from all over the world in knowledge sharing aimed at new efficiencies.
  • Harvesting the judgment of experts. In his book, World Without Secrets, Richard Hunter uses the term “Mentat,” originally coined by Frank Herbert in Dune, to describe human experts who serve as synthesizers of what is important in particular areas of expertise. Over the next five to ten years, Hunter reckons that the limitations of search engines will create a valuable niche for such synthesizing sages. Typically, communities of practice are where Mentats can be found.


migrations graphic


In a World Without Secrets . . . Mentats will increasingly be measured not by their ability to provide more information, but by their ability to make accurate predictions, give concise data, and reduce the amount of information their clients must handle. Of course, this increases the hidden power of the Mentat . . . (who) do what computers can’t and won’t do for the next ten years: make decisions and predictions based on qualitative figures like judgment, benefits, values and emotions.

Mentats fill a number of increasingly important rolls in the World Without Secrets:

  • Mentats tell us what matters and how. They provide the frameworks we use to interpret the world or a piece of it.
  • A framework is based on values, so it’s one of the things that defines a community. In other words, a Mentat leads a community.
  • Like other leaders, Mentats make decisions or assist us in doing so.
  • Mentats filter out as much information as possible, so what remains is the good stuff.
  • Mentats inform us when something important has changed that requires us to reconsider our ideas and frameworks.
  • Mentats provide a basis for personal trust to resolve the claims of competing information.

Richard Hunter

So the e-knowledge imperative is impelling leading-edge enterprises to develop new approaches to their acquisition, managing, and sharing of knowledge. Let us consider the migration paths they are charting.


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  The time is past for leaders in higher education to recognize and respond to the emerging realities of the information age. The new sociotechnological context for working and learning (even for "playing") calls for new ways of conceptualizing the learning and decision-making environments of colleges and universities today. Change at such a fundamental level is transformative and disruptive but also ultimately essential if the powerful and socially positive though not necessarily profitable values of higher education are to persist in the information age.
Carole Barone