Thursday, 18 December 2014

Is knowledge on your Christmas reading list?

Infographic Hindenburg
Infographic Hindenburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At KIN, we advocate making knowledge as disseminated as possible, whether through reducing barriers to participation or making information accessible. We have held several popular events on 'Knowledge Visualisation', so I was pleased to see that David McCandless' new book on infographics is titled 'Knowledge is Beautiful'. This makes sense, as his previous book was 'Information is Beautiful'. 

His introduction states
"The more I visualise data, information and knowledge, the more I'm starting to feel and understand the difference between them... understanding really is the key'.

I was excited by this statement, as I'm always advocating differentiation between information and knowledge (terms that are often used interchangeably). Infographics that simply convey meaning in an attractive way can be very powerful. I always remember the excellent exercise that Lulu Pinney did for KIN - we were asked to determine the essence of the infographic's 'story' with the captions hidden. This is a simple test that I find most newspaper infographics fail miserably.

In looking at the reviews of 'Knowledge is Beautiful' it seems that complexity is creeping in. It also seems that the promise of McCandless' introduction is not really delivered in his graphic examples; if knowledge is about know-how and expertise the book still conflates this with information.

I'm hoping that another book that combines two of my interests (graphic design and London) London: The Information Capital finds it's way into my Christmas stocking (hint, hint!).

This will be the last KIN post of 2014. On behalf of all the KIN team, we would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and prosperous 2015.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Innovation prediction - a tricky business

Crystal ball Fran├žais : Boule de cristal

If you pardon the pun, 'futurologists' may come and go, but Richard Watson of 'What's Next' tends to get innovation prediction about right. His infographics also really make his ideas very accessible.
Take a look at Watson's timeline of emerging science and technology predictions and you can see many of the things he was predicting, such as synthetic organisms, are now reality. It remains to be seen whether others such as the end of dementia or 'vibration energy harvesting' prove realistic.

Incidentally, this item was highlighted to me through the automatically created Knowledge and Innovation Network newspaper using PaperLi. PaperLi auto-curates your content based on pre-determined topics and can deliver the magazine through a variety of channels. We need to further refine the recommendation engine, but it is a smart way of delivering what's interesting.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Asking the right questions

This is an original work, based on internation...

Knowledge work predominantly focuses on finding solutions to problems. It makes sense that the quality of the answers is directly related to the appropriateness question, right? But do we always ask the right questions or are there more important questions that should be asked?

I'm indebted to Michel Lessard of SNC-Lavalin for introducing me the the concept of 'Question Formulation Technique' or QFT. Originally developed by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana as a method for engaging school children to be more inquisitive, it has obvious application for managing knowledge in a wider, organisational context.

Whilst the 6 step QFT process may seem over-prescriptive at first, once practiced, the results will deliver much richer questions that will deliver meaningful answers. In KIN we get a glimpse of this when we run 'Member Peer Assists'. We have noted a direct correlation between the succinctness (is that a word?) of the question and the relevance and value of the group's suggestions.

This short article from Harvard Educational Publishing explains the origin and QFT process. I'm going to try this out in future workshops; I'll let you know what the answer is!