journals: the privatisation of knowledge. LO26770

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 06/04/01

Replying to LO26733 --

Dear Organlearners,

Arthur Battram <> writes:

>what follows is a piece of paranoia, perhaps:
>the point is that perhaps lists like LO are under
>threat from some sources, namely journals.
>perhaps therefore LO should not cooperate with
>these potential competitors who do not share the
>LO committment to the FREE exchange of information.

Greetings dear Arthur,

I once explained to the LO-dialogue that the thoughts in organisations are
much like the chemistry of aromatic organic compounds. The Ordinary
Organisations (OOs) have ortonoia and paranoia while the LOs also have
metanoia. I see your advice as a metanoesis rather than a paranoesis.

In fact, in 1986 I decided that "marketing information for funds and
status" cannot be reconciled with my mission to become a teacher for
authentic learning. Since then I have walked the edge of chaos, or the
tight rope, whatever you may call it. After fifteen years I am becoming
somewhat worn out by doing it.

>The big boys have saturated the market for
>BPR, the KM market is filling up, new potential
>markets are being explored for technologies
>based on the 'soft stuff' like people skills,
>relationships, etc and the science journal publishers
>are after their slice of the action.


>so what's my beef?
>[or soyaburger, so as not to offend the PC readership]
>well 2 points:
>1. most of this stuff published in the newish soft
>journals isn't real science. it may be good interesting
>stuff, worthy of examination by practitioners, but it
>does nobody any favours to dress it up like an old
>drag queen in the cast of cocktail dress of science.
>(apologies to any old queens, and to our own dear
>queen, the original old queen).

I agree with you.

The worst is to try and make science out of this "soft stuff". As I
understand it, it is "soft stuff", but in a most exquisite sense. I have
tried to articulate it many moons ago with my concept of "transdisiplinary

But I can also articulate it with a phenomenon in chemistry which may be
called Hard-Soft Interactions (HSI) It is a generalisation of Ralph
Pearson's contencious priciple of "Hard and Soft Acids and Basis" (HSAB).
I see in my imagination how the days (DP Dash prodded me already long ago)
come nearer when I will have to create a contribution on this HSI

Just to wet your appetite. In chemistry it is related to the difference
between HOMO (Higher Occupied Molecular Orbitals) and LUMO (Lower
Unoccupied Molecular Orbitals) Quantum Mechanics (QM). HOMO QM deals with
actualities. This leads to "hard-hard" interactions. LUMO QM deals with
potentialities. This leads to "soft-soft" interactions -- to make use of
what has not yet been occupied, but which certainly can be occupied. The
adjectives "hard" and "soft" refer to the plasticity of the Atomic
Orbitals (AOs) involved in the MOs. An ion of a hard metal like iron leads
to "hard-hard" interactions while an ion of a soft metal like silver leads
to "soft-soft" interactions.

Both HOMO and LUMO QM are very real in chemistry! This is one of the
reasons which makes chemistry such a terror for many a student. (The other
reason, as you might have guessed, is chemical thermodynamics ;-). For
example, when the ion H3O(+) neutralises the ion OH(-), it is pure HOMO QM
all the way. But when an essential amino acid like methionine, containing
a sulpher atom S, participates in protein synthesis, it is LUMO QM all the

It is the necessity of LUMO QM which makes sulpher an essential element
and thus the reason why rotten meat has such a bad smell. Science can
easily kill an animal, but cannot make a carcass live again. Similarly,
science can easily make "soft stuff" smell rotten, but it cannot maintain
the living mentality in which thinking has not yet degenerated into a
rotten smell" of "soft stuff".

>2. And the stuff is often unreadable; it's written
>in a strangled form of academic english that
>makes it impossible to follow an argument. it's
>also often very poor stuff, but dressed up in a
>sauce of jargon that conceals the fact that the
>meat is 'off'. it does not, crucially, promote

Well, I will not be surprised if most of my writings appear to be the same
for fellow learners. This I cannot prevent with all the care possible
because we all live in a certain time gap, even though most exciting. But
I do believe that the more fellow learners become complexified in
transdisiplinary thinking, the less they will find it putrid.

However, you have another point which I tried to articulate with "Shared
Vision or Sharing Cliches".

There is also another thing which we have to bear in mind -- the long
delay feedback time in written dialogue compared to spoken dialogue,
thinking of the LO-dialogue as a cybernetic loop.

The fourth thing which worries me, is the evaluation by "peer referees".
It degenerates too often in a system of "the blind leading the one-eyeds"
-- the disciplinarists trying to cage in followers to set up a little
empire. By this they prevent emergent learning which is requisite to
transdisiplinary thinking.

>The fact is that this list, and others like it, do an excellent job.

On the one hand I would like to exclaim "I agree". But on the other hand
differences in qualities are most important to me. They serve for me as
"entropic forces" so as to drive "entropic fluxes" or the flow of
quantitative information. This leads to "entropy production" within me
which drives my creativity. Thus when fellow learners question the essence
of our LO-dialogue from time to time, I appreciate it self very much,
although it does hurt when it happens in an uncivilised manner.

I think your naming of the topic is a misnomer, unless you did it tongue
in the cheek ("prodded the topic with a dragon"). Knowledge lives only in
the minds of people and never in the pages of all journals. That which is
found in journals are dead information. Knowledge will be private forever.
The best way for me to privatise information under the disguise of
knowledge, if I wanted to, is to fool around by sharing cliches rather
than seriously contemplating a Shared Vision.

I wish fellow learners will also try to articulate their own tacit
knowledge on this important topic of yours.

A number of PhD students have apprached me with the problem of what
to do with information found in lists not accredited with scientific status.

My advice to them up to now was this.
1) Write in your thesis this information, but do it as
   speculative assumptions.
2) Take care to cite unobtrusively the "soft" source
   so that others may not later accuse you of plagiate.
3) Then use ONLY OBSERVATIONS (and not speculations
   nor conclusions) in the accredited "hard" literature trying
   to falsify your speculative assumptions.
4) If you have the taste for it, contrast the "soft" speculations
   with "hard" speculations and conclusions.
5) Do a honest job and use the results as the basis from
   which to proceed further.

Well, I must admit self that they are giving their promoters a hard time

Rick's careful monitoring of contributions for consistency with his
explicit vision and his careful numbering and dating of contributions to
the LO-dialogue make the citation of "soft" information easy. Thank you
Rick for being such a wonderful host.

[Host's Note: Thanks, At. I am impressed that the numbering of msgs has
been quite beneficial. Another practice is once a msg reaches the archive,
I am careful that it never changes it's URL. ..Rick]

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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