Noise vs. knowledge in Web 2.0

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All you chronic Facebook status updaters, linkedin.com posters, blog commenters, and fantasy football league posters that post your every thought whether or not the content is of any interest to anyone, raise your hand! Yes, you too, Mr. tapping-away-on-my-iPhone-pretending-not-to-hear! (Sheepishly raising my own hand…) Heck, there’s more tweets in my timeline than in an aviary. If you don’t get that one, go immediately to your web browser (the big “E” thing on your desktop) and type in www.twitter.com.

I hate to admit it, but we should all pay a fine for noise pollution. We add to the distraction of the web each time we post some version of “Goodnight everyone,” “I miss my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend,” or even worse, some ridiculous platitude such as “Common sense is a series of misconceptions learned before the age of eighteen.” – Albert Einstein. (Actually, that last one’s cool).

Since this is a blog post and not an academic work, I’ll skip the fluid transition and get to the point; if we are to learn things worth learning and develop our brains instead of damage them, we need to learn to filter, or better yet, have things filtered for us. Most of the time, we need help with the filtering, since the brains constructed for life as a hunter/gatherer are not particularly well suited for dealing with a barrage of stimuli. Our ancestors’ neighbor’s cave blog did not feature video upload capability, and reaction to the news of a herd of wildebeests required quick action rather than deliberation on the importance of what we have just read. How’s that for oversimplification!

What does this all mean? Knowledge management is something that corporations are all scrambling to achieve, but few, if any, have mastered. Far from someone telling them to share knowledge, people need to understand what it is, see the benefit for participating, be provided with the tools to do it, and then actively contribute. Finally, the “owner” of a particular area of knowledge management must do the filtering – more information does not mean better decisions…in fact, the relationship will become inverse at some point! It is beyond this posting to go much further, but specific issues will be tackled in future blog posts. I’ll just mention a couple knowledge management tools such as wikis, blogs, forums, an organized file share, and my favorite, prediction markets. Why is it my favorite? We’ll let’s just say someone close to the author wrote a pretty sweet paper on them in the Journal of Prediction Markets. Read summary of the article.

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