Implications of knowlegde sharing through the web

7/18/2007 | Christian Kreutz

While reading "everything is miscelleanous", I found a quote by Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Assiciation, in Library Journal back in 2005:

"Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs."

Of course it contradicts from my own experience and organizational blogging. In my opinion, the communicative and networking aspects of blogging are often underestimated in how it contributes to personal learning by writing thoughts or "just" linking and commenting on other sources. Stephen Downes describes how blogs and other web tools enhance personal and networked learning in a video. Even more intriguing to me is Weinberger's argument: "Knowledge - its content and its organization - is becoming a social act." With the example of wikipedia, he argues that the web enables us to interpretate, define, express and link knowledge in a new way. Simple said knowledge is not given in a top-down approach like the Encyclopedia Britannica, "knowledge exists in the connections and in the gaps; it requires active engagement."

Knowledge sharing and learning through the web is horizontal and with a steady flow. So an article has not date when it is finished and corrected. It is constantly edited, because of new facts or other perspectives from people. A blog post is a node in a network, which has comments or counter arguments in other posts. And wikipedia proves that knowledge, created by many people, is possible. Check out the book "The Age of Conversation" made by 100 authors. Imagine this in an organization. The intranet top-down communication would make no sense because the employees make their own web (e.g. wiki). One consequence would be that people, who know best, write the document and not necessarily the person in charge of it. In his book, Weinerger quotes Jimmy Wales talking about the neutrality of an article: "An article is neutral when people have stopped chaning it." I wonder whether Michael Gorman would think the same today. Just last week a German journalist called Hans-Ulrich J├Ârges, from Stern social media, (e.g. content from blogs) "loser generated content".