Thursday, February 28, 2013

Teach your children the philosophy of Information Management

I find myself, often, using analogies to explain Information Management (IM). Why? … Well, we use patterns people are familiar with to convey the characteristics of something new or unfamiliar. It therefore follows, that there is a limited exposure to what IM is, and why it is important. Why are people not aware, or under exposed to IM? We are, after all, moving towards an era where IM will become vital for a business to remain competitive. Surely this is something that people should learn as part of their education. There are courses and degrees that offer you the opportunity to learn about IM. However, in my view, that should form part of basic education, and people should get exposure to IM from a young age. This is essential for the Information age to transform into the era of “commonly known” (Teneo Vulgo).

For humans to become a specie that truly leverages on its members’ knowledge, we need to have a natural skill to manage the proliferation of information. That is not the case today, where we merely apply controls, defined by cultural and other systems to protect key components of our knowledge. For example, we teach our children to remember their home phone number and address. We further tell them not to share this information with strangers, and we might even explain why. These are controls, not a philosophy or a way of life.

So, how do we build communities that master the power of IM? Simple, we need to build memories by connecting with people’s emotions and conveying the message of actively managing information. One way would be to use story telling. For example stories about love and wars where heroes and lovers defeated the odds by using information to its full potential. The stories should be more real as people’s education matures, to teach people that this is not a mere fallacy or fantasy. The more dependent the outcome of the story on the mastery of knowledge - the better. In fact, I would argue that most of the stories told today carry the value of information management, but that this aspect of the story gets little or no attention.

People who master IM take advantage of situations all the time. They capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risk. Now imagine this power in the hands of a group with a common purpose. We already use crowd sourcing to build knowledge, accelerate the evolution and improve the accuracy of systems. It is time for the next level.

There are companies out there which are already building scalable Artificial Intelligence. But there is a bigger opportunity. We have an opportunity to scale real intelligence, or human computing. Semantic and context aware systems that work with people to derive the best result. You might argue that it is impossible to call on people to assist when needed, but there are programs out there that will prove you wrong. Have a look at the navigation app “waze” as a good example.

The challenge nonetheless remains to raise future generations to appreciate the opportunities and risks associated with information management so that people will innovate more to leverage on each other’s knowledge and intelligence and create managed systems of common knowledge.

So my message today is: Teach your children the philosophy of Information Management.

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