Accessing Information
is not Acquiring Knowledge

Hari Srinivas
Viewpoint Series E-082. June 2015.


t used to be traditional to blame bad decisions with lack of foresight and risk averse leadership. Both reasons have at their core a lack of information that cumulatively led to the bad decision being taken in the first place. But with the advent of advanced computing power, and the networking enabled by the Internet, this reason, of lack of information, no longer holds water. The information is there, collected in sometimes repetitive, overlapping cycles.

The issue is therefore no longer a lack of it, but more of accessing and finding the right info at the right time - to be delivered to the right target. The challenge is to match an information need with an appropriate resource.

This challenge focuses our attention on two key aspects are:

(1) Accessing information - covering the technology dimension. How do we ensure that a decision-maker, in need of information to choose between alternatives and take a decision, is provided that info? How can the information be provided? The question is one of technology - how can a decision-maker access information quickly and efficiently?

(2) Finding information - covering the management dimension. With the advent of the Internet comes a new expression - information overload - of an overwhelming volume of information being delivered without sufficient disseminative justification. How can information be managed better - packaged better - to facilitate effective decision-making? Is a 200-page folder detailing the entire activity necessary to take a decision to initiate it (for the deicision-maker)? Or is a one-pager with a bulleted list giving the salient points sufficient?

Knowledge is a construct that is created in the mind of the user, as a result of the cycle of accessing, processing and understanding information.

But providing and ensuring access to information per se will not complete the knowledge cycle. Quite clearly, it is the opportunity for value adding to information given to the user, which leads to generation of knowledge and understanding. Thus along with the provision of access to information, lies the need to create a two-way flow of opportunities to generate knowledge.

On one hand are value-adding opportunities for the user to contribute experiences, insights and related information to the information being accessed. On the other are opportunities to contextualize and localize the information being accessed to the environment within which the user works.

It is this value-adding, interactive give-and-take that leads to the generation of real knowledge.

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More info:

Srinivas, Hari, "Accessing Information is not Acquiring Knowledge". GDRC Reseaarch Output E-082. Kobe, Japan: Global Development Research Center. Retrieved from file:///H:/%60disk-e/gdrc/gdrc/kmgmt/output-1.html on Wednesday, 5 October 2022

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