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October 15, 2008

Knowledge in civilizations, societies, forums, blogs, MBE Students….

I like reading. I think like is not the word, I LOVE reading. But I`m not crazy about any particular subject, but again that`s quite  unfair. I`m crazy about almost all subjects. But my taste is quite seasonal. For a while I decided I just wanted to read classical novels (Don Quixote, Moby Dick, Karamazov Brothers, etc etc), and them just biographies, etc etc. There was a moment on my life when I just read history books specially about how some societies have developed quicker  and some didn`t, how some empires fall, what is usually the difference between success and failure in societies (I suggest a few books about that matter in the end of the post). There are a few common reasons in all the histories, but there`s one point that is almost always present in all the history of success and in failure.  That point is about the degree of importance given to research and education in the societies. The more valuable knowledge is for that society, the more important it is, the better that society goes. I`m not going to get in the details about the fact that real knowledge requires free thinking , acceptance of mistakes , no fear of trying, etc etc. But there is one detail I`d like to get into. That`s the fact that even though knowledge is perhaps the most valuable asset it is one of the only (if not the only asset) that the more you use, the more you give and the more you share the more you have. 

That`s clear in the history of the human kind. All the civilisations and societies that have given attention to knowledge and that have opened they`re doors to knowledge sharing have evolved. When China was de most advanced society in the world, Europe imported fundental knowledge from there (powder, paper, etc). At the same time, China was not interested in learning from other places because the thought that by being the most advanced the have nothing else to learn. That was the main cause of the decrease of the importance of the Chinese science ans economy for a long time (that is being reverted in the last decades). The same thing happened to several countries in the middle east. For centuries the science in those countries was very advanced in all areas. They invented the numeric system we use today (and the fundamental creation of the concept of the number 0), knew a lot about astrology, metal welding, etc etc. However due to several political and religious restrictions many of those countries have decided to close themselves to foreign knowledge and science. hat certainly has a major effect in the decay of many of those civilisations. Even within Europe that can be found. One of the theories that explains the industrial revolution and the economical growth it brang states that protestant countries were more open to experiments, science, knowledge them catholic ones due to persecution made by the catholic church  to  scientists (Galileo Galilei being a great example) that`s one of the reasons why England, German became richer countries them Spain or Italy for example.

The bottomline is that it`s is important to share knowledge. And that`s is very easy to explain. The more people sharing they`re experiments and explanations the more work is being done in the same direction, smaller possibilities of commiting the same mistakes, etc etc.

Well, vey nice. Sharing knowledge is certainly something desirable, etc etc. And MBE students with it? 

Well, something that Paul stimulates us to do is sharing knowledge. Blogs, team work, forums...I completely agree with it and specially with the argument he uses. But I have a suggestion. Why don`t have a coletive forum? Instead of each team discussing on one forum, why don`t having all of us talking in just one forum? I understand that the basic idea is being able to better evaluate and mark the work. But that could be made by analysing the contributions each one of us made on it. Of course it would be harder to do, but it`s possible. I know we are going to share our knowledge during the presentations, but I still think we should share it by writing, exchanging files, etc. Another reason for that would be following one of Demings principles that states that cooperation is better them competition...

Just to finish that post, something interesting happened. I began writing this post yesterday. Today I went to the tutor dinner and had the chance to talk to several great colleagues. At one moment I was the only non-Chinese in the table. And I had the chance to learn a lot about China, to talk about some sensible questions, etc. It`s funny that in a determined moment we talked about the history of China and we got to the point about China having closed they`re doors several centuries ago and having payed for it (as we said above). The nice thing is that they agree with that, and knowing were you get it wrong is the first step to get it right next time!

Anyway, I`d like to thank all colleagues for all the knowledge sharing so far. I hope that I`m able to contribute to that sharing as well! 

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