Knowledge is a vastly intriguing and important subject. Knowledge is at the heart of civilization, underlying all that individuals think, believe and do. Questions about its nature are as old as civilization itself. Knowledge has brought technology into being and has transformed the world. Knowledge and understanding things and being creative is the basis of learning as well as political, education and business life.
According to Webster’s dictionary, “ Knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity, gained through experience or association”. In practice, though, there are many possible equally plausible definitions of knowledge, a frequently used definition of knowledge is the “ ideas or understandings which an entity possesses that are used to take effective action to achieve the entity’s goals. This knowledge is specific to the entity which created it.”
Knowledge is at the heart of human civilization. It is the engine of creativity and culture and defines our humanity. As a consequence, knowledge represents a great deal more than information, with which it is commonly confused. Knowledge is information in use, and it is the interaction of information with the human mind that gives it meaning and purpose. One crucial difference between knowledge and information is that knowledge requires a ‘ knowing subject’. There is a sense of commitment to knowledge, that is lacking in information. Information can only become knowledge when individuals apply their intellect to it and interpret it. Information becomes knowledge, when it is believed, understood and applied. Without that intervention of the human mind, data and information are merely artifacts. Information only becomes knowledge when someone knowledgeable gives its meaning. A knowledgeable individual uses his or her intellect to make sense of information, and from it develops new thinking, ideas and concepts, that are made use of in creative and innovative ways. Knowledge is information that has been consciously processed,and has established meaning and value to those who use it.
Knowledge is an integral part of the complex learning process of all human beings. This view of knowledge is important because it helps to emphasise that knowledge involves activity, thought and learning . According to Davenport and Prusak ( 1998 ), ‘ Knowledge derives from minds at work.’ Knowledge creation is a conscious process and one that changes the human world. For this reason , the effects of acquiring and using knowledge is made visible in the difference they make to
the ways things are done or an act is conducted. This is knowledge management.n It is about the success that is gained
from using knowledge in efficient and meaningful ways. Managing knowledge is about improvement , innovation and achieving objectives – crucially it involves learning. Managing knowledge or knowledge management , involves using knowledge effectively in the organisational context.