Sat, 22 Mar 2003 21:41:54 GMT

Blogs and Knowledge SharingAlready in January I pr …. Blogs and Knowledge Sharing
Already in January I promised Denham Grey to write something about blogs as a medium for knowledge sharing. Denham and I seem to have different views of the capacity of blogs in this regard (Read his comment on KnowledgeBoard regarding blogs). Promises are often easy, sometimes even lightly, made, and it is in extremely busy weeks as I have been having recently when others fill my agenda that it proves enormously difficult to keep them. However the time has come to start fulfilling some promises, in an attempt to regain some of my authenticity as John Moore would have it. (Yes John, my promise to you regarding links on trust will be as well).

Blogs and knowledge sharing it is then. In recent weeks both Denham Grey as well as Lilia Efimova and Sebastien Paquet have put their thoughts on this in words.
In the posting before this one, I have described my thoughts on listening as the road to obtaining new knowledge.
Taking this stance on listening as a starting point knowledge sharing is what? Sharing knowledge is where a storyteller recounts a story that is particularly relevant to the listener at this time, otherwise it would fall on deaf ears, and no sharing would take place, only broadcasting. Knowledge sharing takes place in dialogues, wether in real time or not, where all parties take on the role of both story teller and listener. In practice this is not often a clear cut case: I acquire knowledge by listening to different storytellers, with knowledge sharing moments on parts of the eventually obtained knowledge. Knowledge sharing is sort of information bartering.

From any piece of knowledge I cannot describe who shared it with me: it is the resulting amalgam of all information inputs on a certain subject, of listening to multiple storytellers. Sometimes I can name influential sources, sometimes I cannot. Learning is mostly a voyage of discovery, a journey of listening, where only in the end, not along the way, I might have something to say on what brought me to my goal. It is an evolutionary process, with no clear view of what will be the red thread and what will be dead-end sideroads at the start. What can help me along on my road of discovery is relationships, storytellers who can point to other storytellers. This is the bartering part I referred to in the last paragraph. This is certainly no clear lineair picture, but that's just what it is: pretty chaotic and semi-random.

I myself quite like that chaotic aspect, it brings on the wonder and magical feeling of discovery I had when I was a 3 yr old, and the world to me seemed like an enormous place with no end of exciting treasures, hidden just so I could have the pleasure of finding them. I had lost that feeling by the time I was 8, and regained it in my mid twenties. So maybe I'm not the person to talk to about the demystification of learning through sharing. Let me just say that in knowledge sharing I think these factors matter: storytelling, listening, the right moment for listening (see former posting: contextual ripeness), dialogue, and relationships.

What do blogs do for me in this sense?
It's a place where I can tell stories. Stories that originate from me, are packaged in the context of me. However I do not broadcast these stories, since I don't think my blog a broadcasting medium although a blog could well be. Ross Mayfield has some interesting posts on different settings for blogs from broadcasting to private channel. (Blogging Bubbles, Repealing the Power-Law, and especially Distribution of Choice)

My stories are stories I use to accomodate my listening, I recount, and thereby interpret and give a place to what I listened to in my own mental context. By telling these stories publicly I also put the information I can barter you as a listener for in the window. This is not something I can do in a forum, or on a bulletinboard, because there it is not only me that determines the context of my stories. In my blog I do, you can retrace my steps by scrolling down on this page, and see the amalgam of impressions that went into forming my opinion for yourself. I think that is important, more important than the actual outcome, to be able to see the road that led there, and which sideroads were passed. So that I, or someone else can decide that it is time to retrace my steps and turn into the sideroad. I hate minutes from meetings that only say what was decided. I can see that from your actions. I am much more interested in what made you decide: a blog works at making those processes visible. Wikis only make the (collective) product visible in comparison, even if that product is never quite finished (and thus fulfilling David Weinbergers 1998 prediction about the end of doneness).

(For a telling example of how listening is determined by the listeners context see Gary's blog where he also refers to Ross Mayfield's blogs on powerlaws and blog networks, but then to illustrate his musings on emergent democracy and the role of trust. I use the same references in a different context. In both instances the listener determines the value of the story, while Ross's context that made him publish it is probably totally different.)

Places where this story was picked up, and commented on:
Making Connections
RU Weblog
Ming the Morpho Mechanic
Ross Mayfield

This text is not finished yet: I need yet to address relationships through blogging, and what the road of discovery and dialogue look like in the blogosphere. Especially because not all of that takes place on the face of the blog. [Ton's Interdependent thoughts]

this has been an interesting thread, as you consider it more and more, you might come to realize that the issues isn't really knowledge but property and reputation, which has been the core issue for most innovative systems.