The end of the semester is, inevitably—no matter how many times we tell ourselves that next semester we’ll be more organized—a time of frenzied paper writing, exam studying and assignment completion. It’s also a time to reflect back over what we have learned and, moving forward, how we can apply that knowledge to our next pursuits. The purpose of this blog post is to reflect upon the central concepts of the UOKM course and to summarize the most salient points that can be taken away from the semester. In order to do this I will give a brief summary of what I feel are the most significant concepts from the course, namely: big data, knowledge management and personal knowledge management, the network society and collective intelligence. Finally, I would like to discuss how these concepts can be applied to enrich our lives and our knowledge.
With the rise of a more digitized and technocentric world many seem to fear that our overzealous embracing of these new technologies is corroding our society, disrupting our work, relationships and concentration and driving us towards disaster (Bilton, 2010). If there is one thing that a semester’s worth of education in knowledge management and social media has taught me, it’s that even though the world is changing, and the transition may be bumpy for some, there is no need to worry—we’ve been there before and change is good. There will always be people who are weary about new technological innovations, but if we use these new technologies to our advantage and harness the abundant possibilities they offer us they can provide us with possibilities for rich, online interaction unprecedented in the history of communication.
One of the key concepts from the class was that of “big data”, an idea that is challenging our most deeply rooted assumptions about business. According to IBM, sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter generate approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day because of their prolific use (Cha, 2012). Researchers call these large and complex data sets “big data” and they have become so valuable that the World Economic Forum deemed them a “new class of economic asset, like oil” (Cha, 2012). Gary King, a social science professor at Harvard University believes big data is changing the world and redrawing business boundaries (Cha, 2012). King says big data “enables us to watch changes in society in real time and make decisions in a way we haven’t been able to ever before” (Cha, 2012). Social networking sites we used in the course such as Twitter, Facebook and Scoop.it! all generate “big data” that computers and data analysts can sell in data markets (Elbaz, 2012). By using these social networks to our advantage, we learned to build up networks of experts and collaborative communities to filter the endless flow of information we have access to and create some sense of boundary in the abyss that is the Internet (Bilton, 2010). Some even believe that social networks are the future of knowledge management in the 21st century (Gago, 2012).
In the UOKM class we learned that Ikujiro Nonaka, a Japanese academic, is credited with creating the term and field of study called “knowledge management”. Simply put, “knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge” (Koenig, 2012). Social networks can be seen as tools of personal knowledge management—a more bottom-up, individual take on traditional knowledge management. Using a site such as Twitter, I can follow the people that will help expand my knowledge, search for subject matter I find interesting, get updates from businesses, news outlets and friends, and tap into the on-going conversations happening around me. And there are many more ways to harness the potential these social networks offer.
Nick Bilton, in his book, I live in the future & here’s how it works: why your world, work, and brain are being creatively disrupted, uses the term anchoring communities to refer to the social networks we use to access and filter information (2010). When people post on Facebook or Twitter, they are distributing information to their anchoring communities and their friends and followers do the same when they pass along or create content (Bilton, 2010). As we build these anchoring communities we start to add and remove people from our communities, as each individual in the community does not receive the same amount of trust (Bilton, 2010). Instead a different level of trust and authenticity is applied to each connection, and this trust can fluctuate like single stocks in a market (Bilton, 2010). This is where Bilton’s idea of “trust markets” comes from. For example, you can use Twitter to connect yourself to the best experts on a certain subject by categorizing the people you follow into lists. You can also use Twitter lists to find interesting people to follow by seeing what people the experts are following. Also, every time you read an interesting book, article or blog post you can tweet about it to your followers. You can also find the author on Twitter and follow them—adding them to your network of experts. Finally, there are online tools like The Tweeted Times which create a real-time personalized newspaper generated by the activity on your Twitter account, to further personalize your Twitter experience.
Another key concept discussed this semester is that of the network society. Manuel Castells, an expert on the network society, says that technologies of mass self-communication have given rise to the network society and given people the tools to come together and create a collective power (Castells, 2007). Castells believes that social networks can also be used as sites of counter-power in a positive and progressive way, as was seen with the Occupy movement or the Arab spring, where social networking sites where used to mobilize protesters (Castells, 2007). The use of these technologies allows for micro broadcasting and the viral spread of information to a mass public (Juris, 2012). Using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook lowers the barriers for access, while using hashtags to trend a topic helps to form a collective identity (Juris, 2012).
A final key concept from the course is that of collective intelligence. With social networks providing ever more opportunities for users to personalize their online experience, customers increasingly want to participate in the creation of products in an active and ongoing way (Tapscott & Williams, 2006). An example of this “prosumer” (producer + consumer) culture is the online video game Second Life. Second Life is no typical “product” and it’s not even a typical video game (Tapscott & Williams, 2006). It’s created almost entirely by its customers who participate in the design, creation and production of the product, while Linden Labs, the creator of the game, is content to just manage the community and make sure the infrastructure is running (Tapscott & Williams, 2006).
In an age of social media and the network society, how have these tools affected the way we live our lives? Throughout the course, through class readings, discussions and presentations, we were exposed to a variety of different case studies that touted the advantages of peer collaboration, both online and offline. Overall, as with any course, one of the most important things to take away is knowledge that will be applicable to our future career. The UOKM class has taught me that the workplace of the future will become an increasingly collaborative one and social media are one of the many tools at our disposal. Social networking sites allow us to tap into a network of experts that can enhance our knowledge. And in our networked society knowledge is the new capital—you cannot be anything without it. Knowledge is always here and it is a prerequisite to most everything we do.
Bilton, N. (2010). I live in the future & here’s how it works: why your world, work, and brain are being creatively disrupted. New York: Crown Business.
Castells, M. (2007). Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society. International Journal of Communication, 1, 238-266.
Cha, A. (2012, June 6). ‘Big data’ from social media, elsewhere online take trend-watching to new level – The Washington Post. Washington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/big-data-from-social-media-elsewhere-online-take-trend-watching-to-new-level/2012/06/06/gJQArWWpJV_print.html
Elbaz, E. (2012, September 30). Data Markets: The Emerging Data Economy. TechCrunch. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/30/data-markets-the-emerging-data-economy/
Gago, B. (2012, September 14). How Private Social Networks Facilitate 21st Century Knowledge Management. Enterprise Social Network Blog – tibbr. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://blog.tibbr.com/blog/topics/enterprise-2-0/how-social-networks-facilitate-21st-century-knowledge-management/
Juris, J. (2012). Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation. American Ethnologist, Volume 39, Issue 2, pages 259–279, May 2012.
Koenig, M. (2012, May 4). What is KM? Knowledge Management Explained. KM World. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/What-Is-…/What-is-KM-Knowledge-Management-Explained-82405.aspx
Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2006). Wikinomics: how mass collaboration changes everything. New York: Portfolio
Hyperlinks and Videos
Big Data Brokers: They Know Everything About You and Sell it to the Highest Bidder
The Future of learning is the future of work
Stigmergic Collaboration: The Evolution of Group Work
Times Techie Envisions the Future of News
Most People, Most of the Time (the perfect crowd fallacy)
Sensors, Smart Content and the Future of News
Porn Business Driving DVD Techonology
Will Amazon’s Kindle rescue newspapers?
Cognitive control in Media Multitaskers
Gen M: The Multitasking Generation
Your brain on Google
Predicting the Future with Social Media
Why I Steal Movies… Even ones I’m in
Why Twitter will Endure
Is the Internet really a blessing for Democracy?
The Twitter Train has left the station
Stop the World
Is Google making us stupid?
Your Brain on Google
This is your brain on Tetris
Obvious to you, Amazing to others
TED talk: Life’s a great teacher, are you a great student?
Personal Professional Blogging: What I’ve Learned
Evernote and IdeaPaint: Turning simple walls into intelligent writing surfaces
Blogging Empowerment and the “Adjacent Possible”
Personal Knowledge Management Online Paper
TED Talk: Don Tapscott on four principles for the open world
Don Tapscott on Radical Openness
Radical Openness: Four Unexpected Principles for Success by: Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
The Star and the Spider by: Ori Brafman and Rob Beckstrom
The Long Tail by: Chris Anderson
Naked Conversation by: Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
Small is the New Big by: Seth Godin
Made to Stick by: Chip Heath and Dan Heat
Personal Knowledge Management Resources:
Hootsuite—Great dashboard app to help manage multiple social media platforms
Personalized news source
Free Twitter Followers Analysis
The Tweeted Times: My Personal Newspaper