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Perspective on Knowledge

Writing as empathy

Communication is about revealing something about the world that the other person hasn't noticed—and often hasn't been able to notice because their ideas get in the way.

A little eternal knowledge is a dangerous thing

Even if our business knowledge were as eternal and omnipresent as Newton's laws, we'd still have to apply that knowledge to a world that is unfathomably complex and ever-changing.

Data is never just data

As with all tools, data has uses because of complex contexts that include other objects, physics, social norms, social institutions, and human intentions.

Links then and now

Broken links used to be like potholes. Now there are entire neighborhoods that are gone.

Approximately causal

Science will not give up on hypotheses. But it already is becoming more willing to accept results based on the sorts of statistical analyses performed by machine learning. And it may be thatwhen science does rely on theories and laws, we will recognize that no matter how ironclad they are as generalizations, their application to a world of confetti will always and necessarily render them approximate and probabilistic.

250 Columns later

Knowledge management has indeed become a multi-threaded discipline, embracing just about everything related to knowledge.

The challenge of emergence

Traditionally, we humans have succeeded at building complex structures by breaking plans down into a multitude of simple, predictable, knowable causes and effects.

Journalism’s new landscape

What's happening to news is a microcosm of what's happening to knowledge overall.

Bring back blogging

The case for internal blogging within a corporate environment is strong and the risk is far lower because the participants are vetted and known.

Behind the scenes of Everyday Chaos

Machine learning builds up a model that connects data points in complex, multi-dimensional ways, usu­ally without yielding the sort of general principles we're accustomed to reason­ing from.

Rewriting the world

Tra­ditional computing upholds the traditional method of applying general rules to particulars. With machine learning, you skip the generalized abstraction and feed in the particulars.

Tools, senses, and machine learning

Machine learning sometimes extends our cognitive abilities in ways that are alien to our minds.

Without a doubt

Given that the future is deeply uncertain, from the tiniest of decisions to the largest, we should love carefully calculated probabilities, for they are the way we deal with a world that has no interest in conforming to our projections or desires. They let us rationally prepare for things not going our way. Any strategist or planner worth her salt is getting as good a read as she can on the nature and magnitude of what she cannot predict.

When knowledge isn’t enough

If knowledge is a tool intended to enable us to make decisions that are more likely to protect us and advance our shared interests, then it is clear that knowledge can fail us. Each domain has at least informal rules about what counts as evidence.

Computers, Internet, AI

If the early computers reinforced the existing world-view, the Internet upended worldview after worldview. We learned that control doesn't scale: If you want to build something really, really big, you have to get rid of the centralized management functions. We learned that customers joined in conversational networks know more about a business' products than the business does. We learned what a democracy is like when everyone truly has a voice, even when those voices are telling lies and tearing down democratic institutions.

Signs, causes and machine learning

Machine learning systems can look at data without instructions about how we think the pieces go together. The AI finds correlations and assembles them into webs of connection.

The good, the bad, the networked

Most would agree that their perception of the Net, along with the general public's, is far darker than it was even just a few years ago.

Knowledge is a tool

There's some knowledge you know you need, but there's far more knowledge you don't know you'll need.

The search for explanations

We got to here-wherever we are-because of innumerable things that happened and a larger number of things that did not.

Local values of a global net

Even in regressive regimes that block sites and ideas, Internet apps are implicitly showing people the value of the free—or at least relatively free—flow of information.