In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« The Economics of Elvis reredux | Main | TV Alert »

October 19, 2002

Tacit Knowledge -- Polaroid

Friedrich --

Polanyi: How can we know what we don't know we know?

Have you run across Michael Polanyi's concept of "tacit knowledge"? The idea is, roughly, that there are two kinds of knowledge -- "explicit knowledge," which is consciously learned and consciously held, and "tacit knowledge," which undergirds everything else. Tacit knowledge is what we "just know"; it's knowledge we don't think about, that we've somehow picked up along the way.

"Explicit knowledge" would be knowing, for example, how to use Photoshop. But think of the volume of "tacit knowledge" that has to be present in order to make that explicit knowledge possible -- familiarity with machines, with electricity, with how digital imagery works...

Polanyi was a fascinating guy, by the way. I'd think that anyone whose brain buzzes to the ideas of Hayek or Sowell would get a charge out of him. You can explore Polanyi and his ideas here, here and here.

Which is a long-winded way of kicking off an occasional new 2blowhards feature, Tacit Knowledge: an ongoing attempt to put into words things that are known but aren't known to be known, and to bring a few widely-known-but-generally-unacknowledged things out into the open. Though, depending on our mood, it's also likely to degenerate into another 2blowhards way to have a little mischievous fun.

And in that spirit, here's Entry #1. An executive once told me this story:

She was on a business flight and found herself sitting next to a guy who worked for Polaroid. He had a few drinks, and started to talk about his employer. "We don't kid ourselves," he said. "We know what most of our cameras are being used for. Lots of photos of the kids. And then...." -- and he cocked a flirtatious eyebrow.

Do you suspect, as I do, that "being able to shoot ourselves having sex without anyone else knowing" also helps explain the popularity of videocameras and digital cameras?



posted by Michael at October 19, 2002


Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?