I left for a few days and now come back to a vibrant conversation! This is exactly what I started this thread for, so it’s great to see! I’m also glad to see a spectrum of viewpoints being presented thoughtfully and respectfully. Yet, it would seem that what I’m trying to present isn’t even on the same spectrum of discussion, which is probably my fault.
There’s far too much for me to respond to point-by-point, but I’ll try to respond to it all at once. It’s a tall task, so please be charitable and assume that if I haven’t addressed something you’ve said, I either missed it, misunderstood it or thought it was addressed in the following, rather than deliberately dodging it. I’m happy to clarify on anything.
I appreciate @ryanjamurphy and @rigmarole’s efforts to explain the DIKW framework and the books and ideas they’ve shared in support of this. But, to be clear, this is not a post about the DIKW framework and its semantics (though I agree with both the labels used and their order). The framework, and the diagram of it that I shared, just happen to be reasonable and relatable examples (in the context of PKM/Obsidian) of what I’m trying to convey.
What this post was meant to be about is encourage people to imbue the knowledge process with the human elements of value and wisdom, something that is rarely considered in the mostly robotic, value-less knowledge/scientific-sector, let alone education system and growth-focused world in general.
As Ackoff points out in the essay that was shared, wisdom is (this will be a re-arranged, but faithful, quote/paraphrase of his words)
the ability to increase effectiveness, which is efficiency multiplied by values. It involves the exercise of judgment and is reflected in the difference between development and growth. Growth does not require an increase in value; development does.
Evaluations are all based on a logic that can be programmed into a computer and are impersonal. Not so for wisdom. We are able to develop computerized Information-Knowledge-Understanding systems, but will never be able to generate wisdom by such systems. It may well be that wisdom - which is essential for the pursuit of ideals or ultimately valued ends - is the characteristic that differentiates man from machines. For this reason, if no other, the educational process should allocate as much time to the development and exercise of wisdom as it does to the development and exercise of intelligence."
We could squabble (and I would) about whether this is a perfect definition of wisdom, but I think it is sufficient for our purposes - especially if you add to the development vs growth distinction to notion of Harmony. It is odd, yet precisely my point, that @minhthanh3145 left all of this and the ultimate conclusions of the essay out of their summary.
My biggest gripes with knowledge-workers - who, by definition, are falling short of wisdom - are twofold:
- Either not having any notion of value at all, or
- Assuming that their notion of what is valuable actually is.
I’m going to ignore the pure nihilism of #1, which is probably extremely rare for anyone to actually believe in - they get out of bed, eat etc… rather than do other things, so there’s an implicit value-structure in their actions.
The issue I’m focusing on here is with #2, which is perfectly encapsulated by minh’s statement that
I determine values of my notes (and consequently my knowledge) contextually. Sometimes, it is valuable to me if it bridges a gap and provides an explanation on how things are connected. Sometimes, it is valuable because it captures precisely the nature of a certain phenomenon that I experienced… to me these things are evidently valuable, so asking why they are valuable isn’t valuable to me.
First, I take no exception to bridging gaps, finding concise explanations for ideas etc… But why are you so certain that the things you are focusing on are “evidently valuable”? Does that apply to all people or are you just special? What of those who think that slavery, child sex trafficking, poisoning our communal water supplies, etc… are evidently valuable? Doesn’t your metric of self-determination of values mean that you then endorse their right to act those things out? If so, let’s just get rid of all laws entirely, as they all put limits on our “personal truths”.
Assuming that you are actually in favor of laws against those and endless other things, then don’t you recognize the sheer arrogance (and I’ll be charitable and instead call it ignorance) in the assumed self-evidence of your values? This isn’t at all to say that what you are aiming at isn’t valuable - I have no idea, and you could very well be en route to Sainthood, but that isn’t at all self-evident (and it is all but guaranteed that you are actually far from it).
“The problem with this position to me personally is that it lacks a triggering factor that would allow itself to be considered during conscious evaluation of knowledge.”
What I’m calling, for first and foremost, is humility - a general self-skepticism, especially with regards to our values. YOU should be the triggering factor - with any thought or action, reflect thusly: “Is this actually good, valuable, true, wise?”
As Ryan, and probably others, has pointed out, it can be murky as to what is Data, Info, Knowledge, Insight, Wisdom. Depending on the context, the same thing could possibly be in different categories (though, I do think that data in particular is literally just raw data - uncontextual numbers etc…).
But I suggest that the common, universal, fundamental value-metric is Harmony. “Is what I’m pursuing here contributing to a more harmonious world or not? Is it a more refined, efficient way to skirt taxes or slaughter people, or is it helping reduce suffering in the world? Or is it perhaps even just irrelevant (as, I’d argue, a lot of academia is)?”
What matters is your perspective and orienting goal - if it is harmony, then probably any knowledge or pursuit could be made Good/Worthwhile/Valuable. If it isn’t, well, just look at the state of the world now and throughout history…
If you disagree with Harmony as a unifying goal, please make an argument for it. But it seems to me that that would be a good definition of being an Asshole. I may be a lot of things, but I’m trying my best not to be an Asshole - maybe I’ll stumble upon being a Good person in the process.
As for how to implement this all in a PKM system - be it with Obsidian or index cards in a shelf - I do think the IMF/MOC system is useful. I assume it is very similar to what had been done for ages in Memex/Zettelkasten/Commonplace books etc… I just hope that people will start to more regularly (and eventually habitually) take pause to consider not just whether the content of their notes and MOCs is True, but whether it is also Good. Knowledge without Values is, as Ackoff points out, robotic and sub-human. (And, really, any tradition of Wisdom would say that prioritizing the intellect is the major source of our individual and collective suffering).
Minh asked whether I have
“read something that caused a profound change in how you the world ? That maybe something worth sharing, because it could bring people closer to your perspective”
As a matter of fact, I have already shared many links to books, videos and lectures of such people - EF Schumacher and Joseph Campbell in particular, as well as mentioned Nietzsche, Maslow, Frankl and perhaps others - but they’re just a small example of great thinkers. I strongly recommend you check any of them out - I recommend Schumacher first as he does an excellent job of unifying the theoretical, philosophical, spiritual, moral, practical, etc… in a very easy to read manner, and even sets out a pretty rigorous, “PKM-Friendly” framework for all of this. But the others are exceptional as well. To not pursue Wisdom is to, at best, sell yourself short and, more likely, invite suffering and destruction.
Finally, given that most people here are probably more scientifically-minded than philosophically-, in an effort to make this tangible, relatable and focused, as well as expose these principles that I hold dearer than anything to the strongest possible criticism, lets run a thought experiment:
- H0 (null hypothesis): Humility is the most valuable thing in life
- Ha (Alternative Hypothesis): Humility is not the most valuable thing in life
- Experiment: Find ONE example of something more important than humility and explain to me why that is the case
The same, I suppose, could be done for Harmony:
- H0: Harmony is the best metric for our goals/values.
- HA: Harmony is not the best metric for our goals/values.
- Experiment: Find ONE example of a better metric than Harmony, and explain why.
Do your worst. But be careful