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Codification and Knowledge Management as Opposed to the Organization of Information

The codification process is unlike but not entirely dissimilar to what many in the library and information science field refer to as the organization of information. Where the latter is concerned, Arlene G. Taylor 1) has listed several functions, and these include:

1. Identifying the existence of all types of information packages as they are made available.
2. Identifying the works contained within those information packages or as parts of them.
3. Systematically pulling together these information packages into collections in libraries, archives, museums, Internet communication files, and other such depositories.
4. Producing lists of these information packages prepared according to standard rules for citation.
5. Providing name, title, subject, and other useful access to these information packages.
6. Providing the means of locating each information package or a copy of it (pp. 4–6).

In a sense, a big chunk of organizing information involves encoding it, specifically as this activity relates to number 5 above but also to some of the other functions. That is, describing content and informational packages (such as books or images) involves labeling those packages (providing access to them) using rules and encoding them in one or more description standards, such as MARC 2), Dublin Core 3), and others.

Codifying knowledge involves a similar process. Ribière and Román (2015) describe *codification* as a “strategy [that] is intended to collect, codify, and disseminate information” (p. 336). However, based on that definition, the difference between the codification of knowledge (CK) and the organization of information (OI) is difficult to disambiguate (the definition doesn't sound all that different from some of the functions listed by Taylor above, but the authors above do go into greater detail).

One key difference between CK and OI is that the domain of OI includes all information that exists in a package (e.g., book, computer file, etc.; whether that package is artificial or natural is one for debate). By implication, anything that is represented and formed in some way can be organized for later discovery, access, and retrieval.

CK, as the name suggests, is about encoding a specific type of thing–namely, knowledge rather than information. Here knowledge is meant to infer a process or, as some like to phrase it, know-how. Thus, it is one thing to identify access points to a book (i.e., by identifying the author, the title, the publisher, the publication date, the subject, and so forth), it is entirely different to identify and encode small processes like riding a bike, roasting a turkey, cataloging a book, directing air traffic; big processes like managing the overall response effort to a hurricane or an oil spill; or volatile crises like those involving immediate responses such as to building fires, water main breaks, virus outbreaks. In all these instances, the desired outcome of CK is the ability to act on the codified information in a way that embodies the informational content that is codified: i.e., to put the codified knowledge into action; to know it yourself. Of course, once codified and thus packaged in some way, it becomes informational and thereby subject to some organizational system (OI).

Codifying knowledge is aided by various information and communication technologies. Wikis, for example, aid people in documenting the steps involved in a work flow. Social media, as well as other types of communication technologies like email (although problematic), aid in knowledge sharing. Exploring social media networks (e.g., who follows who on Twitter, etc.) helps understand knowledge sharing potentialities. Here we may think about the implications of small world networks and wonder about the problem of silos. A research question might be: Does social media enable interdepartmental or interdisciplinary knowledge sharing or place increased barriers between departments or disciplines? (For more on social networks and knowledge management, see Nelson & Hsu, 2006.) Or, does the use of social media amplify tacit to explicit knowledge conversion? If so, is it because it helps others show-what-they-know and not-just-tell-what-they-know?


Ribière, V. M., & Román, J. A. (2006). Knowledge flow. In D. G. Schwartz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management (pp. 336-343). Retrieved from

Nelson, R. E., & Hsu, H. S. (2006). A social network perspective on knowledge management. In D. G. Schwartz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management (pp. 336-343). Retrieved from

Taylor, A. G. (2004). The Organization of Information. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

blog/codification-and-knowledge-management-as-opposed-to-the-organization-of-information.txt · Last modified: 2020/01/29 10:56 by seanburns