Transferring Know-How: The eternal fight for survival
✍️ John Finlay Content Manager at Eloquens.com
Know-how has often found itself at the heart of human progress. Representing the practical information used to accomplish tasks, it has driven the understanding of processes, the formulation of ideas, and the learning of language from generation to generation. Although the transfer of know-how, also referred to as ‘procedural knowledge’, is certainly no new concept, it’s form and source has changed markedly over time.
Dating back to the early stages of human development, the transmission of knowledge has always had a considerable impact on human evolution. In what was referred to as the ‘ratchet effect’ by psychologist Tomasello, know-how preservation has allowed for the creation of more complex and successful processes. Practical knowledge was, initially, carried in the form of cave art, carvings, and symbols, which is said to have helped give warnings and instruction to others about hunting and gathering.
Over time, with language developing into written form, know-how transfer became more astute. The creation of the Greek alphabet in the 8thcentury, which itself was a product of information transfer from the Phoenician alphabet, significantly advanced the preservation and carrying of know-how. The publication of books and manuscripts were crucial in the development and progression of scientific ideas, whilst also facilitating the establishment of legal, political, and educational institutions which characterise today’s society.
Fast forward to the present day, the huge amount of technological innovation has presented countless ways for the transfer of know-how. The invention of the radio in the 19thcentury was initially a means for military communication, with strategy and advice delivered through code. The telephone has similarly enabled global transfers of know-how. It has become an almost indispensable tool for businesses and entrepreneurs to contact clients and receive know-how in the form of advice and consulting. Despite this, the absence of a visual aspect means that the know-how transferred through radio and telephone is limited.
And this is where the internet comes into the picture. Accessed by almost 60 percent of the global population, this network is able to store unprecedented amounts of information, allowing users to share their know-how, consume others’, and provide a place for discussion. Yet despite such a vast scope and quantity of information available, there’s over 1.2 million terabytes on the internet (just 1 terabyte can be compared to about 150 DVD’s), finding the right know-how remains a challenge. With the average internet user spending six and a half hours a day online, much of this for research, education, or work-related reasons, the lack of a centralised platform for sharing know-how efficiently is evident. What’s more surprising is the amount of know-how that is still left offline. More can be done to preserve procedural knowledge, in order to allow future generations to focus on innovation and development.
There are sites that aim to preserve this know-how, however. Eloquens.com, for example, is a hub for professionals and experts to publish their Best Practices on fields ranging from Finance, Law, Technology, HR, Strategy, Marketing, and Startups. It allows for the transfer and conservation of the valuable know-how that is kept offline by encouraging people to share their resources online. Looking ahead, with the rapid change in technological progress, who knows which direction know-how transfer will take. Zero-size intelligence will continue the expansion of data by offering even greater amounts of information to be stored in smaller ways. Artificial Intelligence is already exerting its influence in daily life, learning automatically from human know-how and innovating independently.
What we do know is that the preservation of know-how remains crucial for human development. It should remain our focus if we want to progress further, so that future generations don’t reinvent the wheel unknowingly.