In a recent weblog post Tom Godfrey was wondering what was happening in the world of Knowledge Management as he was not seeing anything inspiring for a few weeks now. And while thinking some more about that particular weblog post I just couldn’t help thinking about a recent article I bumped into that clearly indicates a strong shift in the way Knowledge Management, Communities of Practice and Collaboration have been perceived so far and where they are potentially starting to head to thanks to the help of social software and Web 2.0 related technologies. The article itself is titled The Shift to Social Computing by Dion Hinchcliffe and you can find it over here.
That particular very nicely written article by Dion actually puts into perspective where the focus in Knowledge Management should be placed from now onwards, if not before all along. We are no longer talking about organisations, or whatever other hierarchical / mechanical groups, pushing for KM; we are now talking that it is actually the communities themselves the ones that will be pulling everything together and get people to share their knowledge and collaborate with one another making use of that social software that Web 2.0 has been inspiring so far. Yes, indeed, what Dion mentions as Social Computing.
In that article you would be able as well to see listed the three main principles he mentions as responsible for the shift to Social Computing:
- “Innovation is moving from a top-down to bottom-up model
- Value is shifting from ownership to experiences
- Power is moving from institutions to communities”
I must say that while going through this same list of principles it reminded me of another weblog post I created some time ago titled Useful Distinctions in Social Software – Where Passion, Trust and Involvement All Meet where you can see how it is that passion, trust and involvement that helps knowledge workers break that command and control attitude from the hierarchical business and allow themselves to become members of different communities and share what they know with others going beyond whatever the organisation(s) they may belong to.
However, and while all this is happening there is something equally important and crucial that we should not forget about. From the very beginning and while KM was following a much more traditional and hierarchical method where the focus was on the explicit knowledge exchange and the different organisations themselves we should not fall into the same trap and identify that this shift is all about the tools themselves, once again, but in this case related to the Web 2.0 offerings. We need to ensure that we go beyond that. That we just make use of Web 2.0 technologies as powerful enablers, not the end result, that would allow people come together and share their knowledge and collaborate with other community members. Yes, indeed, we need to ensure that the focus is in the right place: the people and their tacit knowledge.
Thus I think we are witnessing exciting times ahead of us in the KM world, but then again, are we ourselves ready as well to make that cultural shift ? You decide.