Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Provisional knowledge, agreed knowledge

There is a lot of provisional knowledge knocking about in a community of practice. Some if it needs to be elevated to validated knowledge.

A lot of knowledge exchange happens within a community of practice. Or maybe not knowledge exchange - more the exchange of ideas, experiences and opinions. Someone asks a question in a community forum, other people answer, conversations develop, files are shared, and somewhere in all of this the question receives an answer.

It's not as simple as "one question, one right answer" - very often the answer to the question is pieced together from many answers, through a developing conversation. 

We can look at that exchange of ideas, experience and opinions that happens in that conversation as "provisional knowledge". We don't know yet if the knowledge is real, or valid, or true. Through the exchange of provisional knowledge - tried and tested in conversation and dialogue - the community begins to create shared knowledge.  And once the knowledge is shared and agreed, then it can be moved into a different area of community space, where agreed knowledge, or validated knowledge, resides. 

This movement of knowledge as a result of agreement represents the validation of the knowledge. The community, or the community leader acting on behalf of the community, effectively is saying "this summary of the conversation represents what we agree to be the valid answer to this question". There is no point in transferring the entire conversation to the wiki, with all its false starts and conflicting opinions; it is better to summarise what has been learned, and how the question has been answered and the problem solved.

A community of practice homesite can therefore contain two types of knowledge:
  1. Provisional unvalidated knowledge in the form of conversations, posts, offered documents, ideas, lessons etc. This may be found in the community forum, library, microblog, and so on.
  2. Agreed and validated knowledge representing what the community believers to be right, valid and true. This validated knowledge may be found in the community wiki or knowledge base. 
Keep these two forms of knowledge separate, as the reader needs to know how much they can trust the knowledge. is it "work in progress" (provisional knowledge) or is it trustworthy (validated and agreed knowledge). 

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