Friday, February 25, 2011

Getting Smarter - Knowledge Code-Breaking

In my BBC job board the interviewer asked a question about  the current RPI and Britain's budget deficit and what was likely to happen to it.

I was caught; I simply didn't know, but added I knew a way to find out babbling acronym after acronym: NIER, MPCM and so on.

Implicit in the question for any would-be journalist was not that I should know the answer; though there are some questions that you should.

I was once told by a BBC editor that during the height of Margaret Thatcher's reign as Prime Minister, 10 percent of the population were clueless. Yes really! But anyway going back to the economic question... 

It's all about building knowledge.

I was reminded of this today as I went about knowledge-brokering. Sounds fancy enough, but that oldest and most rewarding of methods saw me doing an in-depth interview with an ex-colleague.  It's part of a lengthy process which will build upon my existing knowledge in video and communications.

Very practical !

Give me knowledge
We're so blase to the notion of acquiring knowledge, that even putting it this way seems weird. You might seek many things e.g. a meal, tickets to the cinema, but knowledge??

About the only group which frames it this way are academics, but it shouldn't be the case. Meanwhile, we've all but become googlised.  That is unless something you want is in google, it doesn't exist.

Google has been the defacto repository of knowledge, and after they the British government close down all the UK's libraries ( What you didn't know?) Google's reign will almost be unqualified.

But wait a minute. Here's a couple of thoughts. Firstly google only indexes a fraction of the web, so if it's not in google, doesn't mean it doesn't exist and secondly the web itself is but a fraction of knowledge captured in books, which is why google's digitalisation of books is still ongoing.

This fallacy in knowledge online being a marker of ones knowledge is so widespread that even people, professionals and respected ones at that who should know better, fall for this trap.

I once had a respected visualist  challenge something I'd said about cinema and journalism, claiming he'd been saying it all before. The trouble is I mentioned this in magazines in the 90s and early 2000s; they're not online.

Also to make assumptions about what you know verses someone else is redolent of playschool games of my dad's car is bigger than yours.

Generation Knowledge 
The acquisition of knowledge still has defined routes for generations preferring the tertiary education pathway: lectures and tutorials which beget that incisive method of asking questions.

However even this has its flaws, as while as a lecturer I might claim I know a lot; an ambiguous term, the rigid frame work of a lecture can only be strengthened by asking questions.

And, and, the most overlooked underrated method trawling in the library. Note I said trawling because the default method for researching is often to target a book and at all costs find that information otherwise nothing else will do.

The converse is, as I discovered, simply to go and browse the shelves for anything that could be interesting, which is why the closure of libraries is such a calamity. It reduces the haphastance of making a find.

Second to that is the in-depth questions. To date, for the research I'm undertaking I've been mining a range of questions, that date back even before the research started itself. For the Press Association's programme that I ran, I have interviewed on tape hundreds of people.

And what does this all mean. Simply that the more you ask, the more you know, the more then confusing things become as you attempt to filter, then the more richer you become. In effect you become a repository for a range of views coupled with your own.

So back to the BBC interview, did I get the job?


But it doesn't stop me from from believing knowing how to fish for knowledge has its merits than simply being handed the answer on a plate.

David subsequently got his first TV job in 1990 with the BBC's Newsnight