Internet and Knowledge Management

I agree with Weinberger (2011) that the growth of the internet, and the humongous access to information it places at our fingertips, is undermining the idea of “experts” since knowledge now resides in the internet not only in books or libraries. The approach to knowledge where experts are repositories of knowledge that are sought after is fast changing. Dixon argues that the way knowledge management (KM) is perceived by KM professionals determines the KM strategies these professionals design (Dixon, 2009, May 2). In the first stage, about 1995, knowledge was thought to be collectable and storable. Organizations sought to store the knowledge of experts and give people/staff access through best practices. Companies developed best practices as gathered by experts that all can go to, as repository of knowledge, to use. But this failed to gather all knowledge and left out knowledge in people’s head, situational and contextual knowledge, and disempowered people who feel that their own knowledge was not taken seriously. In the second stage, by the 2000s, KM professionals realized that knowledge existed, not just in experts, but also “in the heads of the people who are on the frontline” (Dixon, 2009, May). These highlighted the importance of “communities of practice” (Dixon, 2009, May) or frontline workers in the field and encouraged the connection of people so that they can learn from each other. In the third stage, about 2005 according to Dixon, knowledge was thought to be collective. It involved the diversity of knowledge and encouraged access of this knowledge through discussions/conversations in both face-to-face and virtual mediums (Dixon, 2009, July). To respond to the challenges that KM professionals face today in their field, Dixon (2009, July) suggests “cognitively diverse perspectives”, “integration” and “diversity”.

Harold Jarche (2010) emphasized the import of social learning and the advantage organizations that emphasized these have. Jarche (2016) argued that more and more people are learning online, and taking responsibility for their own on-going learning. This kind of learning is easier to remember and it is more contextually relevant.

Davenport (2015) explained that knowledge management is dying and getting out of vogue. He listed a number of factors that were responsible for this. But, the one he mentioned that aligned with the earlier arguments of Dixon (2009, May 2; 2009 May 10; 2009, July; 2012) and Weinberger (2011) is the part that technology is playing in undermining an approach to Knowledge Management that fails to integrate the import of data. Although I lack Davenport’s expertise, I believe that knowledge management may not be dying the way he explained it, but changing in its focus, appellation and the way people (not just KM professionals) perceive it. People may not be searching for KM, but may be searching for moderators of online forums. These managerial skills aligns with some of the skills that Dixon (2012) argues are necessary in the third era. In this sense, KM will now more involve the management of social networks of knowledge through creating and coordinating the environment through which these happen (see examples given by Weinberger, 2011).

References

Davenport, T. (2015). Whatever happened to knowledge management. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.tomdavenport.com/wp-content/uploads/Whatever-Happened-to-Knowledge-Management.pdf

Dixon, N. (2009, May 10). Knowledge management: Where we’ve been and where were we’re going – Part two. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/knowledge-management-where-weve-been-and-where-were-going—part-two.html

Dixon, N. (2012, August 8). The three eras of knowledge management. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2012/08/the-three-eras-of-knowledge-management.html

Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Where knowledge management has been and where it is going – Part one. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-one.html

Dixon, N. (2009, July 30). Where knowledge management has been and where it is going – Part three. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/07/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-three.html

Jarche, H. (2010, February 24). A framework for social learning in the enterprise. Harold Jarche. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2010/02/a-framework-for-social-learning-in-the-enterprise/

Jarche, H. (2016, December 8). Closing the learning-knowledge loop. Harold Jarche. Retrieved from http://jarche.com/2016/12/closing-the-learning-knowledge-loop/

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now tht the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

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9 thoughts on “Internet and Knowledge Management

  1. Edletech
    I agree with you that experts (authorities) are increasingly devalued by the network and by society. And I agree with the authors of this weeks’ readings that in the right contexts the network does supersede the individual expert. One area of concern for me, however, is the decline of critical thinking and critical reasoning skills. I am concerned that people may be uncritically accepting the knowledge they find on the network. What are your thoughts on this topic? Is it a concern you share? Thanks.
    Randy Roberts (libraryfuturesblog)

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    • Randy,
      Thanks for your remarks. In a world where it takes a lot of critical thinking by an individual and editors in publishing companies before one gets published, books where considered properly screened and authoritative sources of what can be held to be true knowledge. They had authority, even though, these books, in some cases, carried some biases within them. But in a world where anyone can, by the strike of a finger, publish anything they want with little reflection, your concern is valid that there is a lot of shallow and misleading publications on the Net that people can erroneously read and swallow as the Gospel truth, when these are errors. It means that our education will need to evolve to respond to this context. One way it can do so is by helping students acquire skills on how, from a very tender age, to seek for authentic information they need. Today, one has to sieve through series of information, compare them, to know how authentic the information are. Moreover, sources of information do vary in their credibility. Others have their natural biases. With these at the back of one’s mind, they can be better equipped and able to discern wherein the acceptable information lies.

      Edletech.

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  2. I enjoyed your post! I completely agree with your view that people may now be looking for “moderators of online forums.” There is so much information at our fingertips now, we need help focusing on what we need to know – we need a “shepherd.” With that in mind, how do you see the knowledge management profession changing? How will people in companies “shepherd” the information in an accessible way for all to understand?

    Andrea

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    • I see the role of KM changing with the evolution in the understanding of knowledge. Knowledge now exists in a networked environment, and it is within this context, according to Dixon (2012) that new knowledge is generated. Knowledge is socially generated. I see the roles of KM professionals to be that of moderators and conveners of environments within which networked knowledge can be generated. Their expertise will be more of consultants who can help people acquire skills to seek the type of knowledge they need to achieve their personal or cooperate goals.

      Reference

      Dixon, N. (2012, August 8). The three eras of knowledge management. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2012/08/the-three-eras-of-knowledge-management.html

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  3. I like your explanation of how knowledge management may not be dying as Davenport suggests, but rather may be changing and evolving. You also made an excellent point about the Internet undermining the idea of “experts:” it’s now much easier to become an authority on any subject. The depth of knowledge once required is no longer applicable – what’s more important is having a large online following. What are some of the virtues and pitfalls of this new reality?

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    • One of the advantages of the internet is that it is democratizing the information needed to harvest knowledge and making such more accessible to more people. Furthermore, as Weinberger (2011) demonstrated, the Net is encouraging diverse perspectives – beyond the isolated chambers of experts – in responding to problems to the increasingly complex problems faced in today’s work place. The pitfalls of this is that the filter that helped to sieve out false, heavily biased and unhelpful information are not effective in the nets. It is now easier for anyone to generate and spread false and misleading information online. People with large online following have more capacity to cause more harm if their unverified opinions are taken as facts. Individual now need to develop skills in assessing the appropriateness of the information they have received. They can always check them against the background of other credible sources. This is an important aspect of being responsible for one’s on-going earning.

      References

      Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now tht the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

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  4. Hi Edletech,
    Thank you for the interesting blog on knowledge management and the Web.

    In my opinion, the top down model has not been efficient for many, many years. When I worked as a consultant in the quality area, the only way to achieve comprehensive success was to assist departments in communicating laterally. Although, people were not used to it or hesitant at first, they did understand that passing our quality audit depended upon it. Therefore, after working through the lateral communications with departments, they in fact did continue to become more open and communicate across various areas. I have used the lateral communications tools on many occasions as a consultant and have involved middle and top management in the process in different ways depending upon the situation.

    I agree with you that knowledge management (KM) is not dead. However, how do we help organizations’ collective groups and teams learn to utilize Web effectively to support KM.

    Best regards,
    Lisa

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    • Lisa,

      Thanks for your remark. I think that one of the ways to help groups and teams within organizations to learn to utilize the Web effectively is to use programmed on-going formation for one’s staff. Web tools that are relevant to staff need to be adopted. Also, there is need to encourage appropriate incentives that may encourage the adoption of appropriate Web tools for the work that is done. For instance, seeing that staff may work from home with their teams sometimes if they desire that. For instance, one of our 100% boarding schools – that traditionally resumes school in the first week of January – resumed at the end of the second week of January. This is because the staff used Google classroom. This granted this school the opportunity to give both staff and students some more time with their families. This was a welcome incentive to learn this Web tool.

      Incessant change of Web tools need to be discouraged since regularly learning new tools can be stressful for staff. Moreover, organizations need to encourage staff to take more ownership of their own on-going formation. Staff will need to identify and use many

      Edletech

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  5. Hi Edletech,

    Thanks for the great response. I agree with you that the continual changing of Web tools presents a stressful situation for those who must continually revamp their learning. This is especially difficult for those people who are not comfortable with the Web in the first place. However, I also beleive that you are correct in pointing out that each of us is responsbile for ensuring our own education on the Web. We must realize it is here to stay and continue to learn all we can without being led by the nose at every turn.

    Best regards,
    Lisa

    Like

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