Blog Post

The Knowledge Café as a metaphor

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 29 March 2017



The Knowledge Café as a metaphor
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 201
Posted DateWednesday 29 March 2017 15:44 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

I am often asked how the Knowledge Café got it's name.

Well, it is not just a name for a conversational method to bring people together in conversation but a metaphor for that process. Let me explain.

The term "café," frequently written as "cafe" without the e-acute accent, comes from the French and means "coffee."

And of course, a café is a small restaurant which mostly serves coffee, tea, other drinks and an assortment of snacks. But cafés are far more than places to eat and drink.

They are places where people, usually friends and sometimes strangers, meet in pairs or small groups to have informal conversations and to socialize. They are also places to read books, magazines, and newspapers.

Many cafés have comfy, easy chairs or sofas or small nooks where people can relax, chat in comfort and chill a little.

Today, many people use them to access the Internet through their laptops or smartphones, sometimes to browse the web, other times to work but frequently to chat with other people on Facebook or Whatsapp.

In short, cafés are hospitable, social places where people go to connect, to have conversations, face-to-face or virtual and to read.

In some ways, the coffee and food are secondary, though conversation is always enhanced while eating and drinking together.

Cafés have a long and distinguished history as places of creativity and innovation where people meet to talk and exchange information going back to the Enlightenment Coffeehouses (or penny universities as they were sometimes known) of 17th and 18th century London.

And "knowledge"? It is through conversation that we learn and develop our personal knowledge.

So the term "Knowledge Café" makes a great metaphor for the types of conversation you might have in a café.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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