Saturday, August 09, 2008

 

The Dark Side of Knowledge Management

A couple of days ago I came across a 2006 paper by Steven Alter called "Goals and Tactics on the Dark Side of Knowledge Management," which begins by saying that "the knowledge management literature focuses on the bright side of KM: it barely mentions the dark side, in which knowledge is distorted, suppressed, or misappropriated due to personal or organizational motives."

I was intrigued by the title because I'd just reviewed the Component Content Management Report, which by contrast is certainly about the bright side of content management. I also know Alter, and he's a clever guy (maybe even a bit of a "wise guy") who teaches at the University of San Francisco, across the bridge from Berkeley on the "West Bay."

This could have been a "tongue in cheek" article, but it's not. It is a brilliant analysis of dozens of news stories in which knowledge was suppressed, distorted, or misappropriated during creation, storage and retrieval, or distribution and presentation phases. Alter uses this "lifecycle x dark side goals" framework to organize the various tactics that he extracted from the news stories.

I won't go through all the categories in Alter's framework. But I note that many of the examples reveal a political perspective common in San Francisco (actors in the stories include John Bolton, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld), and I'm sure that there are people in red states who would argue that Alter's paper itself is an example of "knowledge distortion during presentation." I'll let you decide for yourself.

-Bob Glushko

Comments:
Thanks for pointing me to this paper. Really interesting!
 
Thank you for this very interesting insight..
 
Great info, i glad to see this blog, such an informative article, Thanks for share this.
 
I read that 2006 paper by Steven Alter and I promised him no to tell anybody, but I think you are a nice person and someone who knows about this particular subject so I will tell you that I suggested many ideas that Steven Alter wrote on his paper, he is a good friend of mine and I did it just to help him!
 
It won't truly have effect, I suppose so.
 
Hey :), Thanks for sharing dark side of knowledge management as well. Truly speaking, I was not aware of that and got to know something today only. I am glad to see informative post..liked it.
 
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