- Nov 2022
He has a warehouse of notecards with ideas and stories and quotes and facts and bits of research, which get pulled and pieced together then proofread and revised and trimmed and inspected and packaged and then shipped.
While the ancients thought of the commonplace as a storehouse of value or a treasury, modern knowledge workers and content creators might analogize it to a factory where one stores up ideas in a warehouse space where they can be easily accessed, put into a production line where those ideas can be assembled, revised, proofread, and then package and distributed to consumers (readers).
- Oct 2022
The reason theytreasure their smallest experiences is because, in thecourse of a lifetime, a modem man has so very littlepersonal experience, and yet experience is so important asa source of good intellectual work.
The antecedent for "they" here is "accomplished thinkers".
whether he knows it or not, the intellec-tual workman forms his own self as he works towards theperfection of his craft.
Here Mills seems to be defining (in 1952) an "intellectual workman" as an academic, but he doesn't go as broad as a more modern "knowledge worker" (2022) which includes those who broadly do thinking in industry as well as in academia. His older phrase also has a more gendered flavor to it that knowledge worker doesn't have now.
- Jul 2022
Many of the workers reported that first thing in themorning, or after any interruption in their thought(like a ‘phone call), they have the “where was 1?”problem in a complex and ill-defined space of ideas.The layout of physical materials on their desk givesthem powerful and immediate contextual cues torecover a complex set of threads without difilcultyand delay, “this is my whole context, these are mypersonal piles”
Following interruptions by colleagues or phone calls at work, people may frequently ask themselves "where was I?" more frequently than "what was I doing?" This colloquialism isn't surprising as our memories for visual items and location are much stronger than actions. Knowledge workers will look around at their environments for contextual clues for what they were doing and find them in piles of paper on their desks, tabs in their computer browser, or even documents (physical or virtual) on their desktops.
Mander, R., Salomon, G. and Wong, Y. A PileMetaphor for Supporting Casual Organisationof Information. Proceedings of Human Factorsin Computing Systems CHI’92, pp 627-634,1992.
The quote from this paper references Mander 1992:
It seems that knowledge workers use physical space, such as desks or floors, as a temporary holding pattern for inputs and ideas which they cannot yet categorise or even decide how they might use .
leads me to believe that the original paper has information which supports office workers using their physical environments as thinking and memory spaces much as indigenous peoples have for their knowledge management systems using orality and memory.
Many knowledge workers have extremely cluttereddesks and floors and yet are seriously disrupted bychanges made to this apparent “muddle” or byneeding to move offices regularly. This supportsearlier studies of otllce work [10, 11]. It seems thatthis apparent “muddle” plays a number of importantroles for them in their work:-
For scholars of orality, the value of the messiness in many knowledge workers' work spaces is probably not surprising. It's likely that these workers are using their local environment as oral cultures have since time immemorial. They're creating physical songlines or memory palaces in their local environment to which they're spatially attaching memories of the work they're doing, performing, or need to perform. This allows them to offload some of their memory work, storage, and retention to items in their physical space.
Unfortunately, many corporate software programsaim to level or standardise the differences betweenindividual workers. In supporting knowledgeworkers, we should be careful to provide tools whichenable diversification of individuals’ outputs.Word-processors satisfi this criterion; tools whichembed a model of a knowledge worker’s task in thesoftware do not.
Tools which allow for flexibility and creativity are better for knowledge workers than those which attempt to crystalize their tasks into ruts. This may tend to force the outputs in a programmatic way and thereby dramatically decrease the potential for innovative outputs. If the tools force the automation of thought without a concurrent increase in creativity then one may as well rely on manual labor for their thinking.
This may be one of the major flaws of tools for thought in the educational technology space. They often attempt to facilitate the delivery of education in an automated way which dramatically decreases the creativity of the students and the value of the overall outputs. While attempting to automate education may suit the needs of institutions which are delivering the education, particularly with respect to the overall cost of delivery, the automation itself is dramatically at odds with the desire to expand upon ideas and continue innovation for all participants involved. Students also require diverse modes of input (seen/heard) as well as internal processing followed by subsequent outputs (written/drawn/sculpted/painted, spoken/sung, movement/dance). Many teachers don't excel at providing all of these neurodiverse modes and most educational technology tools are even less flexible, thus requiring an even larger panoply of them (often not interoperable because of corporate siloing for competitive reasons) to provide reasonable replacements. Given their ultimate costs, providing a variety of these tools may only serve to increase the overall costs of delivering education or risk diminishing the overall quality. Educators and institutions not watching out for these traps will tend to serve only a small portion of their intended audiences, and even those may be served poorly as they only receive a limited variety of modalities of inputs and outputs. As an example Western cultures' overreliance on primary literacy modes is their Achilles' heel.
Tools for thought should actively attempt to increase the potential solution spaces available to their users, while later still allowing for focusing of attention. How can we better allow for the divergence of ideas and later convergence? Better, how might we allow for regular and repeated cycles of divergence and convergence? Advanced zettelkasten note taking techniques (which also allow for drawing, visual, auditory and other modalities beyond just basic literacy) seem to allow for this sort of practice over long periods of time, particularly when coupled with outputs which are then published for public consumption and divergence/convergence cycles by others.
This may also point out some of the stagnation allowed by social media whose primary modes is neither convergence nor divergence. While they allow for the transmission/communication portion, they primarily don't actively encourage their users to closely evaluate the transmitted ideas, internalize them, or ultimately expand upon them. Their primary mode is for maximizing on time of attention (including base emotions including excitement and fear) and the lowest levels of interaction and engagement (likes, retweets, short gut reaction commentary).
the definingcharacteristic of knowledge workers is that they arethemselves changed by the information theyprocess.’ So, the workers interviewed saw theirvalue to an organisation being to understand a bodyof knowledge and generate new information fromthis understanding which changed either theorganisation or its customer in a direct way.
a more refined and nuanced definition of knowledge workers than Peter Drucker's 1973 definition.
I thereforeidentified twelve knowledge workers in a range ofU. S, and European companies, Their job functionsincluded: design, advertising, marketing,management consultancy, broadcasting, law, financeand research.
Areas of knowledge work (as determined in 1994 at least) included design, advertising, marketing, management consultancy, broadcasting, law, finance, and research.
In the rest of this section, wherever I say “knowledge worker”, I strictly mean only the small set I sampled.
Built in assumptions which may not extrapolate.
This caveat is also a strong indication of the state-of-the-art of the level of knowledge worker research in 1994.
Peter Drucker, the distinguished commentator onorganisation and management, has popularised theterm “knowledge worker” to describe the role of agrowing percentage of employees in businessorganisations: “The manual worker is yesterday..,..The basic capital resource, the fundamentalinvestment, but also the cost centre for a developedeconomy is the knowledge worker who puts to work
what he has learned in systematic education, that is, concepts, ideas and theories, rather than the man who puts to work manual skill or muscle, ” . 5. Drucker, P. F. Management: Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices, Harper & Row; New York, 1973.
Influential management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker helped to popularize the concept of the "knowledge worker" by way of his book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices (Harper & Row, 1973).
Who/where is the origin of the neologism/idea of "knowledge worker"?
- where was I?
- orality vs. literacy
- open questions
- personal knowledge management
- tools for thought
- education reform
- orality and memory
- Peter F. Drucker
- contextual clues
- memory palaces
- knowledge workers
- method of loci
- combinatorial creativity
- tools for thought affordances
- social media
- Jun 2022
Local file Local file
The Essential Habits ofDigital Organizers
This chapter is too entailed with productivity advice, which can be useful to some, but isn't as note taking focused for those who probably need more of that.
What is the differentiator between knowledge workers, knowledge creators, students, researchers, academics. How do we even clearly delineate knowledge worker as a concept. It feels far too nebulous which makes it more difficult to differentiate systems for them to use for improving productivity and efficiency.