This is a post that corresponds with my graduate coursework in the field of library and information science. If you are not interested in reading my homework, simply skipping any post that begins with “IST###” should put you in the clear.
This week in Library School we explored the subject of Knowledge Creation and I learned a new word:
Apperception–the act of perceiving oneself perceiving
(Lankes, 2011, p. 32).
Did you know that word?
If you’re reading this because you’re in my class, you probably did because you read it in the textbook (right??). More likely you’re reading this because you’re my professor and you know the word already because you wrote that passage. But if you’re anyone else reading this blog, you probably didn’t know what it meant before I told you because it is a ridiculous word for a circular concept. Now you know; you’re welcome.
However, according to our textbook, though I told you what “apperception” means, I did NOT give you the knowledge. You made that knowledge yourself using the evidence of my own knowledge-making that I left behind.
Buckle your seat belts because this might get existential.
According to the philosophy that is the central theme of this week, knowledge cannot be recorded or transferred — it can only be made again. So books and CDs and Tweets and things don’t contain knowledge. They exist because someone else made knowledge for themselves and left behind the artifact that shows where the knowledge was made before.
This concept, though I generally like it, leaves me with questions.
Can we keep knowledge that we make? Is it still knowledge when it is memory or is memory another artifact that is just unrecorded floating around in our brains? If we podcasted a memory it would be an artifact…or is it still knowledge for us and only an artifact if someone else listens to it? What if we make new knowledge from our memories (that may or may not be artifacts)? Is that meta-knowledge?
Some of these questions are addressed in the memory portion of the text, and it rightly points out that memory can be as incorrect as any recorded artifact. It’s easy to remember things incorrectly. I literally just read the chapter for this week and took notes, and I still had to look up the definition of apperception.
Even though this philosophy of knowledge creation as continuous action leaves me with questions, I generally like it. If we have to keep making knowledge over and over again, and no one can transfer it to us, we can simply make updated knowledge when we find out our first knowledge was wrong. Who is to know (unless we leave behind an artifact that shows what we thought our knowledge was)?
Thinking about it this way, I feel quite empowered because this also means that no one can make quite the same knowledge as I can. Even if I had an identical twin, and we spent every single waking moment together, so we had as identical a perspective as it is possible for two different people to have, and we read the exact same thing at the exact same time, we would still make two different sets of knowledge. That’s cool. And that is what makes for interesting conversation — the fact that we all make knowledge uniquely. When we share the result of that knowledge, the conversations helps us make new knowledge. So maybe memory is an artifact that we use to have conversations with ourselves.
This is getting impossible to keep track of in my head, so I’m going to stop here.
Basically, this whole, entire blog is one big exercise in knowledge creation, but you don’t get any. I worked hard making knowledge to write this artifact. If you want knowledge from this, you have to make it yourself. The great part is, since you finished this entry, you’ve already done the work. Congratulations! You have made some knowledge (probably. I won’t know for sure unless you leave behind an artifact. Go blog about it).
P.S. Give yourself a bonus point if you wondered whether you missed Week Two. Consider it just like the lost Shakespeare Play. Just kidding. As a reward for making it to the end of the blog entry, I’ll admit that I numbered the entry wrong last week.