Knowledge Production: A Social Process
Jacques Derrida claims that the process of writing is fundamentally changed by the way we write. Marshall McLuhan on the other hand points to the medium as ‘the message’, while German sociologist Niklas Luhmann opines ‘man is not able to communicate; only communication is able to communicate’. Three different men, three different opinions. Nothing new about that. Or is there?
Academics define, debate and redefine modern society as it is, or how we as individuals interact with it continuously. Put into a 2010 context, does technology impact the content, delivery or consumption of content and if so how?
How has the process of knowledge production changed with the advent of social media? More specifically, what are the epistemic consequences of social software and information architecture?
WOH! Hang on! What the hec is social software?
Social software enables group interaction. A conduit to conversation. So information architecture must be the mechanics of delivery, yes? Well kind of…
Okay, so accepting the structure of things has changed, how have our conversations changed specifically? And by that I mean, how has our production of knowledge evolved?
From blackboards in lecture halls to death by powerpoint in the boardroom (or classroom!) to Skyping across timezones, the physical space and time of our conversations has evolved through and because of social media capability.
Blogs (just like this one!) and the rise of Wiki’s sees the distribution of information and access to knowledge evolved both the classification of information (Luhmann), the way we engage with it and the dissemination process of information as knowledge beyond our local sphere.
McLuhan, Foucault and friends are a lot more accessible via youtube.com, wikipedia and the likes for the academic in training. And we know that what we see and read we need to take with a grain of salt (production and knowledge values are not expert) however, the entree to access is invaluable.
Schiltz, Truyen and Coppens(2007) in their article, Cutting the trees of knowledge: Social Software, Information Architecture and their epistemic consequences discuss how the nature of what is known seems to be changing. They use the example of a Linux expert and the expectations around what that in fact means. No longer is it assumed that the ‘expert’ contains all knowledge personally (‘in his head’), although it is assumed that s/he has direct access to it, either via a social/ professional network or both.
Social networking systems and applications are changing the way we gather, store, disseminate and create knowledge. Aggregated suites of software such as Facebook.com and myspace.com are pervasive.
Why is it important in our production of knowledge again?
The fundamental shift in communications practices is inter-related to the social network of the modern-day information society for which one way or another we can (and do! – Australian’s are some of the largest consumers of social media in the world) democratically ENGAGE.