Software Engineer’s Blog

Software Engineering weblog

From data processing to knowledge sharing, and beyond

At times, it is good to step back and take a look at what we are doing. I believe, it is the very essence of what Stephen Covey referred to as “Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal”; the seventh habit in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People . I would say, caught in the rat race, this is one of the first good habit that is easily compromised

An interesting blog Knowledge vs. Information…Which is it? reminded me on this, to take a look at e-learning; or more precisely learning itself

Computer has evolved from being a device for data processing to a platform for knowledge sharing. However, does that make a platform for learning. No doubt, it assists but to be a platform for learning, I believe we have still a long way to go

What am I saying? Well, there is distinct difference in both the notion and dictionary meaning for terms i) data, ii) information, iii) knowledge, iv) expertise and v) wisdom

Why is this important to discuss? We live in a world where i) huge amount of data is being created and processed every minute, ii) amount of information we require to consume and process to make decision to stay effective and competitive, both in personal life and business is huge and is increasing, iii) great deal of effort goes into creation of data and processing of information rather than presenting for a purpose, iv) ability to assimilate information to make quick decisions could make huge differences in personal life, career and business.

Let me explain this in a context. My father has been going through a traumatic phase over last two years; short term memory loss and similar strange behavioral patterns. From the descriptions from his physician, I understand that this is due to a growth (hopefully benign) in the brain. What is the issue? What is the cause? What is the best possible treatments? What are side effects? What are do’s and don’ts?

Before web, information to me was limited to what our physicians in the friendly neighborhood could offer but now a whole world of information is available to me. Mark my words, it is information at best; not knowledge!

I do not expect my doctor to be God. I do not expect my doctor to be all powerful and all knowing. I do respect the profession and respect the person. But I would like to educate myself. I do not expect to educate myself to the level of my doctor. As a professional, I understand what it takes to be a professional. My intention behind educating myself is to make informed decisions; as best as I can

I do it but I think it could be better. I look forward to it being better. I look forward to making it better if I can. What does it take? That is where I believe we need to distinguish between i) data, ii) information, iii) knowledge, iv) expertise and v) wisdom.

What is the distinction?
I believe, they are:
Data, as we all know, is raw facts.
Information is relevant data available on time.
Knowledge is internalized information/awareness,
Expertise is ability to apply knowledge (what)/skill (how)
Wisdom is knowing when/where to apply

To me, learning is moving from having to work with a lot of data to wisdom where I can make informed decisions. As an old saying goes, first quarter of learning is from the master, second is from the learner himself/herself, third is from peers and forth from experience.

Web 2.0 has everything that it takes to make it happen. Well, someone needs to make it happen


December 9, 2009 Posted by | Collaboration, e-Learning, eLearning, Healthcare | 1 Comment

Google Wave: A new paradigm in collaboration

An interesting observation on Google Wave adoption Google Wave Invites, the new zucchini . I too share author’s view that Google Wave is all about communication. I look forward to see that it catches on, and I hope that communication and collaboration tools of our times evolve in similar lines

Let me share an experience from the past.

I grew up in a remote town in a developing country (that is, India). Our life there was a lot different from the world we live in.

Fuel used at home during my early childhood days was wood and kerosene. I remember that Liquid Petroleum Gas was getting to be in popular use, during my school days. One of my cousins happened to be one of the early users to get the gas connection (gas connection being issued by a Government agency).
Interesting twist to the story is that they surrendered the connection back finding it to be more of nuisance.

More than tool, its application is important. A tool helps when we understand its strength and apply the tool for a purpose leveraging its strength. What I find interesting about Google Wave is that it renders itself to human thought process and dynamics of group discussion, both of which are typically non-linear. It should help when used in group processes; not necessarily a replacement of email and IM

Success depends on adoption and large scale application, ensuring critical mass. Has it come ahead of time? Not necessarily. I hope people appreciate the strength of Google Wave, in its own right, beyond the hype. It is a new kind of communication/collaboration tool that we have seen so far

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Collaboration, Google Wave, Uncategorized, User Experience, UX | Leave a comment