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What is the unit of Knowledge (Part 1)?

February 10, 2017


I recently started to struggle with this question, because I realized, we seriously don't have a definition of knowledge unit and it just happened to me that I wanted to express amount of knowledge necessary for description of entity in MetaSystems and I couldn’t find any relevant definition of knowledge unit… 


SOMEONE suggested, it's a "question", or in the other words, the basic unit of knowledge is the most narrow and focused question that we can formulate about knowledge. I can't agree with this statement, because question doesn't necessary represents knowledge, it just identifies the need for knowledge.


OTHERS suggested that in the information technology domain, it's one “bit”. I would argue with that statement either, I believe that one bit is just a data unit, not the information. Information is something which brings meaning (knowledge) about particular data and this ultimately represents a knowledge unit itself.


I also read a paper with statement "A knowledge unit defines a coherent collection of subject matter", which seems to be true, however it doesn't specify the UNIT itself nor the connection with the world outside of the unit.


Ricardo R. Gudwin in his article "Computational Semiotics" provides his own definition: "A Knowledge Unit is a granule of information encoded into a structure". I believe, it's a deeper philosophical discussion, but generally if we can translate this to IT and connect it with semantic ontologies, it seems that knowledge unit could be "information entity" or "information bit”, whatever we call it. The point is, knowledge unit could be defined by semantic description and knowledge unit doesn’t necessary represents simple or complex knowledge, it’s just a “knowledge piece inside broader structure” which is a fundamental part of knowledge unit definition. Knowledge is useless without structure, so semantic ontology is structure which hosts knowledge units or entities and this give us the answer to the question “What is the unit of knowledge”.  


We will continue our exploration at Part 2 of  this article.

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