Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom And The Difference Between Information Exchange & Knowledge Mobilization

Information Exchange is a term that is mistakenly applied to Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) – particularly in social media. Unfortunately, despite the developing use of the term Knowledge Mobilization, the KMb concept is misunderstood and misapplied, as are the terms Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.

A helpful web posting on the visualization-blog Information Is Beautiful presented a “think-piece” by David McCandless titled Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom? McCandless created an impressive visual pyramid to help distinguish each category as a Hierarchy Of Visual Understanding. Although McCandless points out it’s by no means original thought, his display provides a clear categorization of each concept.

On Twitter, I recently posted a link to this visual pyramid and a popular quote from American astronomer Cliff Stoll and author Gary Schubert. Both the link and quote have relevance to understanding the difference between Information Exchange and Knowledge Mobilization.

The quote from Cliff Stoll and Gary Schubert:

Data is not information,
Information is not knowledge,
Knowledge is not understanding,
Understanding is not wisdom.

In short – just because you have some “facts” and share them doesn’t mean you’re informed, or the “facts” are useful. Nevertheless, the concepts are connected, and one needs to “know” how.

Let’s take this very example to demonstrate: I spent upwards of almost 30 minutes searching the web (from Google to Wikipedia) to find out who Gary Schubert – and which Gary Schubert – is connected to Cliff Stoll in this quote. This quote is extremely popular (3620 results on a Google Search), but all of the many webpages I searched still couldn’t tell me who Gary Schubert is and why he is connected to Cliff Stoll and this particular quote. All of the many websites and blogs that used this quote only attributed it to these two individuals by name only, and no other information. At least Wikipedia listed Cliff Stoll and it was there that I found out who he is and why he is connected to the quote – but no mention of Gary Schubert. Apart from emailing Cliff Stoll directly to find out, Gary Schubert is still a mystery to me.

Now back to McCandless’ visual pyramid to further demonstrate.

Data: The discrete elements like names, words, and numbers that categorise, calculate or quantify – like Gary Schubert’s name and the words of the quote. I have the data but I still don’t have the information about who Gary Schubert is.

Information: The linked elements like concepts, ideas, and questions that contextualize, compare, connect, filter or frame – like connecting Gary Schubert’s name to the quote and asking the question “who is Gary Schubert?” and “which Gary Schubert?” (There are 19 profiles of Gary Schubert on LinkdIn). Simply linking names with a quote and not knowing who exactly these people are is not knowledge, it’s just information.

Knowledge: The organized information into chapters, conceptual frameworks or facts – like finding out who Cliff Stoll is on Wikipedia and knowing that he is an astronomer, author and public speaker who is rightly attributed to the quote. I have knowledge about Cliff Stoll and how to connect him to the quote, but still no knowledge of the particular Gary Schubert, his connection to Cliff Stoll or the quote.

Wisdom: Applying knowledge into books, systems, beliefs, traditions, philosophies, principles and truths – like my personal belief system to stop long searches for information (in this case on Gary Schubert) by applying the knowledge that when writing a blog and using a quote it’s really not that important to provide all of the details beyond a person’s name AND that there is a likely chance that someone reading my blog may provide me with the exact information about Gary Schubert anyway! I was just curious to find out more about who these guys are that are always being quoted by name only.

So, when I use my blog to put out the question “Who is Gary Schubert and why is he connected to Cliff Stoll and this quote?” and one of my blog readers or someone else comments on this blog post and provides me with the answer- that it is Information Exchange.

When I take the data I have (the name Gary Schubert) and connect it with the information I receive about who Gary Schubert is – it becomes knowledge. When I turn that knowledge into action by posting on Wikipedia, my blog (or some other form of social communication) to make it easier for someone else to have access or contribute to this knowledge – that’s Knowledge Mobilization at its most basic level.

When research and knowledge are used to inform policy makers to make things easier for society – that’s KMb at a more complex level.  KMb is turning knowledge into action for greater social benefit. KMb encompasses a variety of knowledge transfer and exchange methods including producer-push, user-pull, knowledge exchange and co-production.

Knowledge Mobilization (like everything) starts with data, includes information that creates knowledge and becomes wisdom when used effectively to benefit society.  Ultimately, wisdom is applying knowledge for the long term benefits of life.

9 responses to “Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom And The Difference Between Information Exchange & Knowledge Mobilization

  1. Pingback: For an individual, when or how does information become knowledge? - Quora

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  3. Pingback: Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) & Social Media: Making The World A Better Place | KMbeing

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  5. Gary Schubert July 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I am the Gary Schubert who crafted this quote from a quote in Cliff Stoll’s book and from what I had been told in my statistics classes.

    • KMbeing July 12, 2014 at 9:20 am

      After so many years, I’m finally glad to find out who you are Gary and connect. What do you think is the statistical probability of that? After so many years, this illustrates the intent of my blog post about data, information, knowledge, wisdom and the difference between information exchange & knowledge mobilization.

      • Gary Schubert July 12, 2014 at 10:20 am

        “data is not information
        information is not knowledge
        knowledge is not understanding
        understanding is not wisdom”

        Professor Gary Schubert, MS, MFA, ABD
        Alderson Broaddus University
        • Associate Professor of Computer Science & Art, Retired
        • Association for Computing Machinery Senior Life Member
        • SIGGRAPH Pioneer

        “I’d Rather be Sailing”
        — GES

        “Being an artist means not having to avert one’s eyes”
        — Akira Kurosawa

        “Life is too short to be taken seriously.”
        — Oscar Wilde

        “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
        — Louis Pasteur

  6. Nigel July 18, 2014 at 5:54 am

    This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.

    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more
    of your fantastic post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my
    social networks!

    • KMbeing July 18, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Thank you Nigel for your very kind comment. It’s great to know that my writing and sharing knowledge is well received. I appreciate your efforts in extending this knowledge and sharing the knowledge of others.

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