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What is Focal Awareness

Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Polanyi’s term for conscious perception that the individual can directly access. Contrast with subsidiary awareness .
Published in Chapter:
Tacit Knowledge and Discourse Analysis
Michele Zappavigna-Lee (University of Sydney, Australia) and Jon Patrick (University of Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch583
The emphasis in information systems research is typically on converting tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge (Hershel, Nemati, & Steiger, 2001). Attention is also given to setting up a dichotomy of tacit and explicit knowledge in terms of articulation (can it be carried in language?), codification (can it be turned into an artifact?) or judgment (is it objective or subjective?). This article is structured to critique the dominant position in information systems research that tacit knowledge is ineffable. The background section provides an introduction to the extensive interdisciplinary literature on tacit knowledge, providing context for the subsequent section that deconstructs the assumptions that this literature makes about what it means to, in Polanyi’s (1966, p. 4) terms, “know more than we can tell.” To conclude, the role of linguistic and semiotic analysis in realising the growing trend toward theorising “community knowing,” rather than knowledge as an artifact, is suggested in the final sections.
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