Steven Warmoes posted an excellent entry on his weblog about the value of documents related to the people who created the document. The theme is : ‘Do you believe what you read ?’
The essence is that although documents (explicit knowledge) certainly do have value, what we do with this knowledge (believe, copy, rework, use, …) depends on our relationship with the author. Is he (she, the community of practice, the government, the group of friends, the department, …) trust worthy, is the source a relevant source.
A good practice principle to keep in mind when developping and installing document management systems : the author of the document is as important as the content of the document.
15 – 20 years ago, I was send to these seminars where I specialised centres tried to turn me into a manager. One of the recurring themes there was that the efficiency of my decisions was equal to the quality of my decisions, multiplied with their acceptance.
Never used it until now, but it helps to bring clarity here. The usefullness of a document for me is related to the quality of the content and also to my acceptance of it, based on the document context. This includes the author and his or her fame and trust worthiness, when and where it happened … But also my own situation, what and when is happening to me now.
So it looks like value does not add up : the value of a pile of documents is not the sum of the value of the documents, but simply the value of the pile …