Saturday, May 30, 2009

a giant moves on

Thanks to Twitter, I recently learned that Ian E. Wilson had retired from his post as Librarian and Archivist of Canada and joined the University of Waterloo as strategic adviser on the Stratford Institute, one of the anchor hubs in the new Canadian Digital Media Network.

I went to GTEC for the first time last year. Six of us squeezed into a van and drove from Moncton to Ottawa. Mr. Wilson spoke on the last day, the day of the cabinet shuffle, and he plain knocked my socks off.

He spoke passionately about digitization and the preservation of Canadian culture. He spoke on information and knowledge. It was maybe the first time I'd really considered the distinction.

He said information only becomes knowledge when a person learns it and can make use of it, that we have much more information than we do knowledge.

He quoted T. S. Eliot: "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? / Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

I was a developer. 13 years in what I thought of as "IT". Gradually coming to think of myself as an IM practitioner. I was eating this stuff up with a spoon.

He said this:

"The real organizational structure is based on how the information flows."

(emphasis mine, from the Westin Hotel notepad on which I hastily scribbled it down)

Socks, consider yourselves knocked off.

All this to say that the federal government's loss is Waterloo's gain, and I wish Mr. Wilson all the best in his new challenge.


Cheryl McKinnon said...

Great post. I'm guest-blogging on the GTEC site for 2009 and would love to link back to this piece. I can be reached via twitter @cherylmckinnon

Unknown said...

Great quote by Wilson. I like to say: Information is the lifeblood of organizations.

Steve Davis said...

"The real organizational structure is based on how the information flows."

I've always wanted to get out organization to invest in mining the Exchange servers for this info to create a map of the real org chart. Maybe someday...