Last week I wrote about how Knowledge will fail you. After I wrote that, I was having a discussion with a classmate from my MBA program on what next to write on Gyanalogy. Incidentally she asked me, “Where do you get your ideas from?” Truth be told, I actually don’t know from where! Very often I wake up in the morning and while I am brushing my teeth, something strikes me - Perhaps rudimentary remains of everything sitting in my subconscious brain while I was sleeping? I write down that thought on my phone and continue brushing. Then when I am on my way to work, I sometimes look at my list. Some unstructured fuzzy ephemeral thoughts play hide & seek in my brain and perhaps I forget about them in the heat of the day. Several days later, I may pick one of these thoughts from my stream of consciousness and pen it down.
Now this begets the question, how is Knowledge created? About four months back I was having a discussion with a friend on feminism and women empowerment. This is when for the very first time, I attempted to present my understanding of how knowledge is possibly created. I said something and forgot about it until another friend asked me “Where do you get your ideas from?” last week. That dormant discussion I had with Arishta sprung back to life. I shall try to sum up that discussion below.
We hear something at one place, see a different thing at another and may be read yet another thing elsewhere. These memories get locked in our head. Most of the times we keep them in silos without having one interfere and contaminate the other.
But sometimes either by accident or by design cross pollination happens regardless. When such cross pollination happens, we create NEW KNOWLEDGE in its most ELEMENTARY sense.
In my own case, one such example is the very first article I wrote on Gyanalogy – The Needle, the Bank Account and Bill Gates. I had read The Needle in my school some 15 years ago, seen a photo of Bill Gates a few weeks back and it took the video from Gaur Gopal Das to trigger me to write an article which connected all these three. That story “The Needle” was sitting quiescent in my brain for 15 years until a video shook it off slumber. The story, the video and the picture were complete in their own right. But the stream of consciousness which connected the dots lead to a new insight or knowledge - Be nice to people, you never know who you are dealing with.
Vertical integration is superimposing what one has learnt in one field onto another to understand new realities.
In fact, most of the Nobel prizes in the last 30 years are not in what one would traditionally call pure economics, pure physics or pure medicine.
It is one the fringes – where knowledge from one field meets the unknown from another – example when psychology meets economics we get behavioral economics, when information sciences merges with biology we get bioinformatics. Creation of this type of knowledge is rarer than Horizontal Integration. Horizontal integration happens all the time but the aha moment of Vertical Integration is much harder to come by.
One example from my blogs is when I try to superimpose my knowledge of finance to answer a classic HR question – What will my salary be?
This is by far the most challenging form of knowledge that will ever dawn upon very very few of us. Everyone saw the apple falling but it took the genius of a certain Newton to ask Why? Everyone knew that oppressors must be suppressed but it took the courage of a certain Gandhi to fight it with non violence.
A green field knowledge will come to us may be once in a decade or so to the entire humanity as a whole.
Such knowledge not only enlightens the one who receives it but elevates the humanity too.
Part 1: Knowledge will fail you
Part 2: How is knowledge created?
Part 3: Ignorance will cost you