Do We Really Understand Tacit Knowledge?

As I exit the theatre from wherein my first symposium for Network Media was held, I am pleased to admit that my brain is firing as I attempt to reiterate notions of tacit knowledge and implicit knowledge. The former, a quantitative source of information based on ‘know what’, whereas the later, a qualitative source of information based on ‘know how’. Adrian Miles exemplified this distinction by explaining that we ‘know how’ to ride a bike, however find it difficult to explain; to identify ‘what it is’ to ride a bike. So since tacit knowledge is by definition; understood or implied without being stated (Oxford Dictionary), then how can one acquire tacit knowledge? Surely tacit knowledge must be instigated through explicit knowledge. Dr. Stephen Little and Tim Ray explain “tacit knowledge is acquired on its own: it is not made out of explicit knowledge. Prior to being generated, one form of knowledge does not lie hidden in the other” (Little & Ray 2005). I disagree with this statement because all tacit knowledge, no matter how implied, must be based on an explicit foundation within the mind; previous encounters and experiences associated to the new knowledge. For example, language is considered a tacit knowledge, however, although extremely difficult to explain the rules of language, the ability to speak it is still based explicit understanding of how it functions as a communicative tool. This also means that the only way to modify tacit knowledge is to establish new methods of social interaction, completely changing how society functions.

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