In my last posting I briefly mentioned the slightly disturbing notion of programming people in the knowledge factory. Let me first explain why that should not really be disturbing.

Programming, in this context has a specific word to describe it: memetics. In some ways memetics is another way of saying teachings, which we humans are the leading practitioners on the planet. A meme is a memorable item of culture that is taught, and then performed by others. No need to get into the technicalities of this, but when we mention programming of ourselves and others, it is the learnings that we have from teachings.

The kinds of teachings that occur in the knowledge factory include things like protocols and programs that correspond to various business situations. Let’s take a concrete example. Let’s say we run a garden supply retail business, and a new regulation says that we must post the concentrations of pesticides in a prominent manner for the retail customer. We strive for a relationship of trust and helpfulness with our customers, so we don’t minimize or grudgingly comply. We make bright bold signs, adorned with our corporate colors and logo at the location of the affected product on our shelves. We also highlight this information in our customer newsletter, and on our website.

What told us (the webmaster, marketing, and the store managers and clerks) to do these things? There is some cultural knowledge that combines the regulatory mandate and the customer relationship pattern that have been programmed into the business (people’s minds, instructional materials, etc.) to behave this way.

Who makes the protocols and programs that guide the actions in the knowledge factory? Well, the instructions here apply to processing knowledge in the factory. In other words who has the role analogous to Industrial Automation Engineers who provide protocols and programs to the processors on the manufacturing floor?

Who are the experts in processing knowledge, and setting up knowledge processing systems that create business value? It's you! It’s us!

IC Engineers, anyone?

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