The More Things Change

From time to time, this blog discusses various constant elements of human nature. Usually, we focus on the unwillingness of folks to do what they don’t want to do and why this affects the adoption of new technology tools or knowledge management systems. The last few days and weeks have reminded us that there are other aspects of human nature that don’t ever seem to change. If you’re not sure about this, take a look at the following excerpt from a congressional report:

“During the post­war decade some 50 billions of new securities were floated in the United States. Fully half or $25,000,000,000 worth of securities floated during this period have been proved to be worthless. These cold figures spell tragedy in the lives of thousands of individuals who invested their life savings, accumulated after years of effort, in these worthless securities. The flotation of such a mass of essentially fraudulent securities was made possible because of the complete abandonment by many underwriters and dealers in securities of those standards of fair, honest and prudent dealing that should be basic to the encouragement of investment in any enterprise. Alluring promises of vast wealth were freely made with little or no attempt to bring to the investor’s attention those facts essential to estimating the worth of any security. High­pressure salesmanship rather than careful counsel was the rule in this most dangerous of enterprises.” **

This report wasn’t written this week — it was written during the Great Depression. Nonetheless, it resonates in a week where we’ve seen large financial institutions fail and unimaginable turmoil in the capital markets.

One of the functions of KM 1.0 is to capture and make available for reuse helpful information objects. Consider this post my knowledge management contribution to the inevitable post-mortem report that is yet to be written. Congress can entitle the report, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

[** Source: H.R. Rep. No. 85, 73rd Cong., 1st Sess. (1933).]

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