As some people already know, I have for many years indulged a rather unhealthy interest in higher education. In the last year, this interest has found its way into a number of conversations with people who have made it their business, so to speak, to provide post-graduate educational offerings to working professionals. Their pursuit, I was quick to declare, is something that is desperately needed and long overdue. In these exchanges, it did not take long for my enthusiasm to head in directions that my colleagues were reluctant to follow. In retrospect, my rationale, and the way I used to... Read more →

Well now that I have thrown down the gauntlet in my previous post about the Trials and Tribulations of Content Management, I feel that I should take the next step and posit some core definitions for terms such as content, information, data, publishing and even knowledge. Hopefully, others will contribute superior alternatives or hack these contributions to pieces so as to expose something better. And why not start with the term content. There is an entire industry dedicated to its management so we would hope that it is a term for which we have a ready definition. In reality this... Read more →

While this contribution comes a full decade after the topic was being debated more generally, for some reason I have found myself musing over the question of who should be declared the most influential person of the last millennium. Allowing for the fact that evaluating the influence of any one individual on history is impossible and comparing the influence of different individuals even more so, I cannot help but to venture a proposition. I would put forward Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603). From the list of candidates, we find the names of scientists, artists, thinkers, inventors, activists and political... Read more →

This reflection is drawn from a long time ago. Twenty-five years ago to be exact. I was attending a talk by a then (and still) famous Canadian author with this event being held in Grant Hall at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. The gathering was very well attended and Grant Hall was in fact packed to the rafters. It was something of a celebration of the success achieved by this author and it should be added that the celebration was well deserved. There was one part of this particular evening that remains with me and it has ultimately prompted this... Read more →

As any trip into a bookstore will confirm, history has become, of all things, sexy. Of course, this might be wishful thinking on my part and it might really reflect a smoldering need within me to see a subject that has absorbed so much of my energy become fashionable. But these trips into book stores do seem to indicate that the presses are churning out a significant number of historical works with some of these even becoming bestsellers. Now, as confessed above, I am quite pleased with this trend. I have been able to pick up a great number of... Read more →

During a Knowledge Management (KM) working group meeting at the Federal Government of Canada, I could not help but notice the length to which KM initiatives must go to justify their existence. KM initiatives will typically seek to make an improvement in how knowledge is acquired, shared and evolved within the organization. It is true that all organizational investments, or one would hope, have to follow some manner of formal process to declare their objectives and how they will know they have arrived at success. These processes usually travel, in larger institutions, under the name of an ‘accountability framework’. In... Read more →

During a recent stay in Oxford, I found myself thinking about Roger Bacon (1214-1294). At least some of my strolls were loosely designed to retrace some of the pathways he may have followed. One reason he comes to mind is that I find his example to be particularly relevant these days. What this example might be can be a little challenging to delineate simply because he has become a figure enshrouded with legends. Since the time of this Doctor Mirabilis (wonderful teacher), he has become many things ranging, in order of increasing defensibility, across magician, Faustian alchemist, and forbearer of... Read more →

For some strange reason, I have been thinking about, of all people, Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-1574). In particular, I have been thinking about a specific portrait by Giorgio Vasari entitled "Duke Cosimo I and his Artists" (located in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence). To my mind, what makes this portrait interesting is its depiction of the interaction between an executive (the Duke), responsible ultimately for doing, and the artists, responsible for knowing and creating. What I especially like about the portrait is that it depicts, quite intentionally to his favour, Cosimo's interest in the arts. He is depicted holding... Read more →

To my surprise, in two books that I have read recently, the authors went out of their way to denigrate Aristotle and to do so with almost puerile glee. In both cases, Aristotle was "the Man" to be overthrown and the teacher at whom we can thumb our noses while we run from the classroom. It strikes me as odd because Aristotle, we must remind ourselves, has been dead for 2330 years. The impulse to denigrate Aristotle of course has a long pedigree. With the rediscovery of many of Aristotle's works in Spain in the 12th century, thanks to the... Read more →

Following a thread of references from an article on Knowledge Management (KM), I happened upon a blog entry that took as its focus the definition of what we mean by "knowledge". This is quite a common occurrence. Any article on KM will, as a rule, be only one click away from some epistemological statement of position. This particular entry repeated the familiar history of KM wherein the earlier dark ages where dominated by an exclusive focus on technology and on an understanding of knowledge that seemed to limit it to what can be managed using computing technology. This dark age... Read more →