Knowledge communication…who would have known?

29 Jan 2006|Joanne Mendel

I really enjoy it when I’m diving deep into something and find a wealth of applicable knowledge in an unexpected place. In this case it took someone outside my field of expertise (namely Christopher) to point me to it. Knowledge communication, an emerging field of study, is currently being incubated in the University of Lugano and the University of St. Gallen, by Dr. Martin Eppler among others. Central to Epplers’ inquiry is how communications occur between experts and decision makers in a business context or, how effective business decisions happen.

In the interest of seeing how someone else chooses to divide up the world, Eppler identifies knowledge communication at the intersection of studies in communication and knowledge management. Adding to this he pulls from relevant work that’s been done in decision making and expertise.

He focuses in on 2 modes most commonly used in the process of communicating in organizations; words and pictures. Words engage us a linear mode of information processing he calls “knowledge dialogues”. Pictures engage us in a parallel processing mode called “knowledge visualizations.”

Given our left brain culture there’s plenty of evidence to support that of these two modes, the power of visuals is far less understood and underestimated and that words are typically over used in communication. Clearly, both used in combination are indispensable tools for decision making.

In our Data Synthesis and Design Studio at Cheskin we have a lot of opportunity to see how powerful visualizations can be in situations where words alone could not have achieved the same result. I’ll be shining a light on examples knowledge visualization with upcoming blogs in an effort to make their value and potential in the business context more readily understood.

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