journals: the privatisation of knowledge. LO26802

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 06/11/01

Replying to LO26791 --

Dear Organlearners,

Andrew Campbell < > quotes me:

>At, you wrote...
>'Knowledge will be private forever.'

>"Knowledge is private"

Greetings dear Andrew,

How do I know what I am going to articulate in the next three paragraphs?
Because I have experienced self it all and then thought much to understand
these experiences.

By making the quote, saying nothing else, you have succeeded in setting up
with my understanding one side of an entropic force. This is potentially
dangerous. Why? Should any other fellow learner understand differently and
thus setting up his/her own side, the difference between these two sides
will constitute an entropic force when the understanding "knowledge is
private" is an intensive quality. I think it is because as my own private
knowledge is scaling upwards, the understanding "knowledge is private"
stays the same.

Should that fellow learner and I now begin to exchange information on
private/public knowledge in a LO-dialogue, this flow of information is the
corresponding entropic flux. When both the entropic force and its
complementary entropic flux begin to act together, entropy production
begins. (Hegel would have said two centuries ago that we have a
dialectical thesis and antithesis here.) This increase in entropy is
manifested in the change of at least my own mental organisation. (Hegel
would have said that a synthesis is happening in my mind.) By making use
of the 7Es, I try to make something constructive from this change in
mental organisation.

Should the other fellow learner also be aware of this entropy producing
force flux pair, even though merely tacitly, entropy will also be produced
within that learner so that his/her mental organisation will also change.
Trying to manage it without the 7Es or anything akin to them, even merely
tacitly, would lead destructively to more confusion rather than
complexity. But with the 7Es or anything akin to them constructive mental
changes can be wrought. (It is here where Hegel's dialecticism seems to
fail -- there can be but one synthesis, either in the mind of the fellow
learner or in my own mind, depending on whom has possession of the

Here end the three paragraphs.

As I understand it, what I see in the quote above, is merely some
information which I created with THE knowledge living inside me. See how I
have used "the" in stead of "a". Should I have used "a", it means that
many knowledges lives inside me of which I have used one to create this
information. But for me my knowledge is one whole so that I have to use
"the". However, by using "the", it seems as if I am saying that my
knowledge is THE only knowledge so that each other fellow does not have
"a"(one!) knowledge living inside.

What we have here is that the English language just like my own language
Afrikaans cannot express with the simple prepositions "the" and "a" what I
(and perhaps you fellow learners also) know. Based on my careful
examination of information created by other authentic learners, the
knowledge living within me is in some respects unique and other respects
it corresponds to the knowledge living in fellow learners. It is unique
because I have travelled a space-time course which nobody else did -- we
each travel a unique space-time course. It is corresponding because we all
live in one universe -- our space-time courses sometimes even join for a

As a result of these correspondences which become apparent through
information by the articulation of our private knowledges, I also think of
one private knowledge which transcends the individual to become the
private knowledge of humankind. It is the private knowledge of humankind
because, although we can recognise it in each other as humans through our
informative expressions what we know as humans, I cannot share it with
other animal species. For example, should I make a print out of this
contribution and show it to our family dogs, they would probably chew it

I tend to think of my private knowledge and the private knowledge of each
of you metaphorically as parts of one gigantic tree. The unique part of my
private knowledge forms one single leave of that tree. Your private
knowledge would do the same, forming another single leave. >From there on,
as the correspondences increase, our private knowledge form many twigs
(few correspondences so that few leaves share a twig). Each twig is
private to every other twig. Our private knowledge form lesser branches
(more correspondences so that many leaves share a branch). Each branch is
private to every other branch. The remainder of our private knowledge form
eventually only one trunk (maximum correspondences so that all leaves
share the trunk). Only through this trunk can we transverse all these

THE problem, as I understand it, is how to communicate information between
my leaf and the leaf of you and the leaf of each other fellow learner. We
cannot communicate through air (except by pheromones!) so that we have to
communicate through the wholeness of the tree. In a real tree it is done
by thousands of molecular organic and inorganic substances, food and
waste, moving up and down the whole tree. Likewise we have to communicate
through artistic and scientific information, food and waste, which we have
to create. Should we as leaves be attached to the same twig, the path is
relatively short for the information to travel from the one to the other.
Should we be attached to different twigs, the path will be much longer to
find a common branch. Should we be attached to different branches, the
path will be longest to find the common trunk.

THE problem is further for me that many people do not understand any of
the unique leaves of the tree to be valid knowledge. Many of them
understand only a common twig to be valid knowledge. This is disciplinary
thinking for me. Some others understand only a common branch to be valid
knowledge. This is multidisciplinary thinking for me. The few remaining
others understand only the common stem to be valid knowledge. This is
philosophical thinking for me. As for myself, I am aware of the whole tree
with the one stem, few branches, perhaps too many twigs and definitely far
too many leaves to study each of them as my own leaf.

As a tree becomes older, the more the bulk of its matter becomes condensed
in its trunk. I have stood in the Amazon, gazing at a mahogany tree of
which its stem had a diameter of some three metres and its height was some
eighty metres. A very sad thought came over me -- perhaps this giant will
become sawed off too soon and the bulk of its matter be machined into
furniture -- fixed forms to serve for the luxury of some humans. I think
that this is what the privatisation of journals (under the cloak of
journals privatising knowledge) is trying to accomplish -- making
furniture out of what we all know.

Here in South Africa many of us lived in the era of apartheid and now live
the era of post-(neo?)-apartheid. During apartheid very little, if any, of
knowledge was considered to be private. Knowledge was identical to all
information found in permissible learned books and journals. It meant that
the information in the remaining subversive books and journals was not
knowledge and thus forbidden to own. The "keepers" of the nation having
the "correct credentials" (to use Alfred's words) decided what information
was common knowledge and what information was bad and thus forbidden for
the nation.

Now in the era of post-(neo?)-apartheid, information are freely available
to the "rainbow nation of peoples". We have been flooded with information
from the rest of the world. The more expensive these privatised journals,
the less of them reach our nation. People from our nation are free to have
even private knowledge if they want to. However, the people in our nation
who want to articulate their private knowledge, still need the permission
to do so from the nation's "keepers" having the "correct credentials".
Permission is granted to only those who conform with the nation's
"keepers" having the "correct credentials". As for the non-conformists,
they are subjected to all kinds of suspicions and judgements, if not
ostracized outside the nation as being irrelevant. This is why the term
neo-apartheid is used increasingly.

Pruning our tree of knowledge, often cutting whole branches away and
sometimes even part of the trunk seems to be a favourite, if not crucial
activity of the South African nation. How it is in your own country will
only you know. How it is in your organisations will only you know. As for
me, I think that in a Learning Organisation no such pruning to reach
conformation should ever take place.

Worse, can we ever afford in a LO the chopping of this tree of knowledge
and thus making furniture out of what we once knew privately?

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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