Collective sense-making

More of my online sense-making is in connecting to people, not accessing information sources. For instance, I read a few journals but I have dropped several, knowing that other people in my network will find the interesting articles and let me know. I used to read many of the technology blogs, like TechCrunch and Read/Write Web but have dropped them from my feed reader and instead read posts that have been referred via Twitter, Google Plus or blog posts.

The big shift for me in past decade has been in weaving a network that brings me diversity of opinions and depth of knowledge. I am constantly following/unfollowing on Twitter in an attempt at optimal filtering, which is an impossible but worthwhile goal. I look for experts who share their knowledge or act as human-powered content aggregators, selecting quality information and discarding the crap. I look for people who have mastered Crap Detection 101.

Aron Solomon has noted that:

2012 will be a year where the value of information finally seeps into the public consciousness. The conversation will become about not only what we know but how we know that what we know is meaningful. We will shift from an orientation of quantity to one of quality. It’s not that we won’t use the Internet, it’s not that Google will disappear – of course not.

Knowledge in a networked society is different from what many of us grew up with in the pre-Internet days. While books and journal articles are useful in codifying what we have learnt, knowledge is becoming a negotiated  agreement amongst connected people. It’s also better shared than kept to ourselves, where it may wither and die. Like electricity, knowledge is both particles and current, or stock and flow.

The increasing importance of fluid knowledge requires a different perspective on how we think of it and use it. If change is constant, then the half-life of codified knowledge (stock) decreases. We see this with the increasingly combative debates on intellectual property (IP) expressed as copyright. Both vestiges of an economy dominated by knowledge as stock. The digital world is harshly bumping against the analog world and we are caught in-between.

I think the only way to navigate this change is collaboratively. No one has the right answer, but together we can explore new models of sense-making and knowledge-sharing. We each need to find others who are sharing their knowledge flow and in turn contribute our own.This is the foundation of personal knowledge management. It’s not about being a better digital librarian, it’s about becoming a participating member of a networked society.

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