Knowledge Production Wiki

The ideal knowledge product contains a synthesis of indigenous African knowledge and tangible knowledge inputs from many other participants in a network that reflect all possible worldviews. Furthermore, a knowledge product aims at creating a new understanding of phenomena. However, it is not only a new understanding that is required, but also putting that knowledge into action to solve real-world problems.


How do you produce new knowledge? Behind this simple question lies a complex set of activities and good practices. First of all, it is important to understand what knowledge is.
Despite many fancy definitions, "knowledge" simply means what a person knows. No other object can contain knowledge other than the human mind. A computer can never "know" something. It can process information, but at some point a human mind is required to make sense of it all. Furthermore, we need to revisit the term production. Production means to produce something new from some raw materials. It is something useful that we can apply to meet our needs. Therefore, to produce knowledge means to take some raw material, process it together with other materials to enhance what a person knows.

Now, what are these raw materials? Raw material for the production of knowledge is called data. Data for knowledge production is acquired by means of research methods. The modern practice is to acquire data by accessing what is readily and openly available. Extensive jargon has been developed around this practice, such as "open access". Eventually it simply means that the researcher access what is easily available in a cost-effective way such as the internet or the traditional library, before phoning, e-mailing or interviewing an expert. However, the experienced researcher knows that open access do not necessarily mean acquiring complete reliable data.

Reliable and complete data means reaching out to the community where the data is situated. A community is a group of people who act together for a common purpose. Therefore, the researcher needs to interact or intra-act with the community to acquire the data. Interaction means communicating with them over a distance. Intra-action implies moving into the community, gaining their lasting trust and respect. Jargon such as "action research", "field research" and "communities of practice" have been developed around this practice. It means that a specific community willingly share what they know to serve a collective purpose.
The gathering of data for knowledge production is becoming a very exiting venture. Nowadays communities vary from the African village to online social networks. The challenge to knowledge production is to become part of these communities and to serve the community by not only gathering data from them, but to process the data into knowledge that could be used for community development. It is in the collective processing of data into knowledge that the essence of knowledge production is found.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License