Earlier on today, a colleague of mine at work shared with me an interesting article that not only is it thought-provoking but it could also mark the success, or not, from all of this social software and Web 2.0 related technologies hype that is going on at the moment. You may think that I may have been a bit too harsh with that statement but I think that after you read through it you would see where I am coming from and how I may not have been that far off after all. That is how impressive the article is. It is written by one of the well known Knowledge Management thinkers and gurus out there, Laurence Prusak, and is titled: The World Is Round.
Larry, currently a contributor over at the Babsonknowledge.org weblog (Another worth while subscribing KM weblog) along with Tom Davenport and Don Cohen, comes to talk about the misunderstanding that quite a few people seem to be having nowadays perhaps regarding information and knowledge. And part of it due to the concepts explained further in The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman where it is mentioned how the current state of things in the 21st century seems to have accelerated the flow of information on a worldwide level and consequently made this world flat.
I must say that I haven’t read the book just yet, but Larry is certainly spot on in a couple of remarks that he has included in the second part of the article and which I think would be worth while quoting over here:
“Whatâ€™s the difference between information and knowledge? Information is a message, one-dimensional and bounded by its form: a document, an image, a speech, a genome, a recipe, a symphony score. You can package it and instantly distribute it to anyone, anywhere. […]” (Emphasis mine)
“[…] Knowledge results from the assimilation and connecting of information through experience, most often through apprenticeship or mentoring […] Knowledge is time-consuming and expensive to develop, retain, and transferâ€”and thatâ€™s as true for organizations and countries as it is for individuals. […] One billion people on the Internet means there are five and a half billion people who aren’t on it. Bringing those people into the global conversation is essential to achieving true democratization of knowledge” (Emphasis mine)
And, finally, this gem towards the end of the article that I just couldn’t help quoting over here as well:
“Until our governments, NGOs, schools, corporations, and other institutions embrace the idea that knowledgeâ€”not informationâ€”is the key to prosperity, most of the worldâ€™s people will remain a world apart”
WOW! What a statement, right? Well, he does have a very good point and I think it is worth while reminding ourselves where we are with both information and knowledge. Right now, all this hype going on about social software and social networking and its many tools is just probably preparing the way; yes, indeed, helping spread the information but somehow we may not be there just yet. We need to move up and transition into that knowledge culture that would allow everyone to convert successfully that information into knowledge which can be put into practice by being able to reuse it successfully.
So you may be wondering how is social software and social networking going to help out with this transition from an information era into a knowledge era? Well, if you have been reading this weblog already for some time, I think you can envision what I feel would be the main two components that could certainly provide and help facilitate that transition: indeed, communities (Of Practice, of Interest, of Purpose, etc. etc. you name it) and and collaboration, not only inside of the communities themselves but also in between different communities. They may be perhaps the two main key aspects that could accelerate the embracing of knowledge coming from a very strong information background that we can all see right now with this social media. And something tells me that this may be a breaking point as well that would differentiate the key role that communities would be playing within whatever the organism or organisation. Thus do you think we are ready to make that shift yet? Or is it still a bit early? What do you think ?