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Wisdom Beyond Information

Wisdom Beyond Information

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Published by Rik Maes
Opinion article. A plea for management realism and data modesty.
Opinion article. A plea for management realism and data modesty.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Rik Maes on Feb 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/19/2011

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Wisdombeyondinformation:
learning thedifferencebetween dataand meaning 
T
hinking about my contribution to
Convergence
,an old yet wonderful book came into my mind:
 Data and Reality
1
. After all, too many systemsdevelopers and other standardising do-gooders gladly forget the wise words of its author, Bill Kent: “Thequestions aren’t so much about how we process data asabout how we perceive reality, about the constructs andtactics we use to cope with complexity, ambiguity,incomplete information, mismatched viewpoints andconflicting objectives.”The world view of these IS people is quite oftenstraightforward and one-dimensional: data are supposedto be interpretation-free representations of reality, we getinformation if we add interpretation to these data,information in the head of people means knowledge andknowledge is the first step towards wisdom. Hundreds, if not thousands of textbooks on information systems havebeen filled with this type of repeated claptrap: data as thesource of wisdom!In this world view, information is reduced to so-calledobjective facts, thereby forgetting that these data aremerely representations of reality conceived by otherpeople, primarily the systems developers, rather thanthose who are supposed to re-interpret these data,regularly the managers. One easily overlooks thatimagination is the go-between linking reality andrepresentation: any representation is biased andabstracted from reality; managers relying on computerdata are hard-core devotees of abstract art.The same detached vision and belief are oftenencountered in the world of knowledge management.Knowledge, in this conception, is nothing but a
 guest editor 
10
convergence vol 7 no 1
 Aplea for management realism and data modesty, by guest editor 
rik maes
..

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