A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge  
TABLE OF CONTENTS     What is e-Knowledge?
© SCUP 2003
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Understanding e-Knowledge


Chapter 1

What is e-Knowledge?

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We begin with a definition of knowledge. In simple terms, knowledge is information and insight understood in a particular context. Its dynamic and contextual nature has led Peter Drucker, the creator of the term “knowledge worker,” to assert that “ the nature of knowledge is that it makes itself obsolete” (Ruggles and Holtshouse, 1999). Because the combination of knowledge and its context are continuously changing, common sense suggests it must be linked with processes of perpetual learning.

The context of knowledge is especially critical in today’s global marketplace. Individuals and organizations must deal with multiple contextual meanings to an extent that would have seemed obsessive only ten years ago. Our approach to knowledge and learning draws from contexts and settings from across the globe. For example, consider the Chinese context where the term guanxi focuses on the importance of relationships or networks between people rather than organizations. Knowledge management and learning in such a setting expresses different dynamics than mainstream Western approaches.

In this book, we use a diversity of lenses through which to understand the facets of knowledge and its interaction with learning. The first lens is the simple value chain that represents the relationships between data, information, and knowledge. Other lenses make use of the relationships between knowledge and strategy, organizational change, networks, and economics (including supply chains and demand chains for knowledge).

Networked information and communications technology (ICT) has put the “e” in e-knowledge.


But e-knowledge involves much more than merely digitizing and passing around everything we know using present concepts, structures, and protocols. As it develops, e-knowledge is creating new standards, structures, processes, best practices, business models, and strategies for creating and exchanging data, information, and knowledge.

Books, manuals, process descriptions, and detailed operating procedures have long served as repositories of what organizations know and what they do. In addition, the associated procedures and insights historically have been shared with others through education, training, and apprenticeship programs, both formal and informal.


Digitization of resources and sharing through computer and telecommunications networks are making a wide range of repositories of potential knowledge available and accessible in ways never before possible.

Every day brings technical advances that make it easier to store, transmit, and share many kinds of information in digital form and at high speed. It becomes increasingly feasible to routinely capture one’s daily experiences and their contexts for later analysis and perhaps incorporation in organizational processes. In principle, most, if not all, of that information could be a source of knowledge for others.


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The Value Chain of Knowledge  
  Data is a collection of unorganized facts and/or figures.  
  Information is data that has been organized in such a way that it achieves meaning, in a generalized way.  
  Knowledge is information that is presented within a particular context, yielding insight on application in that context.  
  Wisdom is the reflective or realized insight resulting from successful application and/or synthesis of knowledge. It is a higher plane of understanding that exists beyond the “simple value chain of knowledge.” However, there is no agreement among the knowledge management community on what truly constitutes wisdom.  


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