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The Tacit Knowledge Series

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Tacit knowledge is ‘knowledge that cannot be captured through words alone’.

This series explores how expertise is tacit, why the research around extracting tacit knowledge is more important than the literature on deliberate practice, and how to go about acquiring tacit knowledge in the pursuit of skill acquisition.

Also related: my summary of K. Anders Ericsson's Peak, and The Problems With Deliberate Practice.

The Series

  1. Why Tacit Knowledge is More Important Than Deliberate Practice — In which we talk about the existence of tacit knowledge, how it relates to expertise, and why the research around tacit knowledge extraction is more interesting and more underrated than the deliberate practice literature.
  2. Copying Better: How To Acquire The Tacit Knowledge of Experts — The sort of tacit knowledge I am interested in is that of ‘expert intuition’. Because this is our goal, we should focus our attention on domains that are most focused on studying it. This post walks through the Recognition-Primed Decision Making model (RPD) from the field of Naturalistic Decision Making. The models helps us understand why expertise is tacit, and gives us levers to extract tacit knowledge from the heads of practitioners.
  3. The Three Kinds of Tacit Knowledge — It turns out there are three kinds of tacit knowledge, all of which are ‘things that cannot be captured through words alone’. This post is about definitions, and it is a summary of Harry Collins's Explicit and Tacit Knowledge — the best book I've read on the topic.
  4. How to Use YouTube to Learn Tacit Knowledge — We can't really talk about tacit knowledge today without talking about YouTube. We take a look at using YouTube to learn Judo, computer programming, and music, before generalising several principles from all three domains.
  5. An Easier Method for Extracting Tacit Knowledge — We discuss Laura Militello and Robert Hutton's Applied Cognitive Task Analysis (ACTA), a simplified method for extracting the tacit expertise of others.
  6. The Tricky Thing About Creating Training Programs — We take a look at how you might turn extracted, tacit expertise into a training program for yourself or others.
  7. An Extracted Tacit Mental Model of Business Expertise — We take a look at the work of Lia DiBello, an NDM researcher who specialises in the tacit mental model of business expertise. As it turns out, great business practitioners all share the same common mental model of business. We take a look at what that is.
  8. Tacit Expertise Extraction, Software Engineering Edition — An interview with Stephen Zerfas, who used the Recognition-Primed Decision Making model to accelerate his software engineering skills at Lyft.

Continue Reading: 👓 Commoncog’s Best Series

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