I mentioned in my last post that the term “personal knowledge management” (PKM) does not adequately describe the sense-making process that I attribute to it. It’s rather obvious that knowledge cannot be managed, as Dave Jonassen has said many times:
Every amateur epistemologist knows that knowledge cannot be managed. Education has always assumed that knowledge can be transferred and that we can carefully control the process through education. That is a grand illusion.
I am extremely interested in personal sense-making processes because the Web has had a profound effect on how we communicate. The big change is not the technology per se, but the underlying structure of web technologies: the network. Without the surround of the network in a ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate world, traditional activities of journalling, letter writing and note taking would be unchanged. However, they are quite different in a network.
In a network, connections matter as much, if not more than content.
Sharing knowledge produces network effects.
In a network, nodes gain respect and trust from their activities, not their hierarchical position.
In a network, cooperation is more important than collaboration or teamwork.
As we get interconnected, networking is learning.
This is network learning; it’s an essential part of working smarter.
I plan on gradually shifting the conversation from PKM to network learning because quite often I see that what is holding back organizational change is a failure to understand that networks are quite different from hierarchies. Being a contributing node in a network is not the same as doing your job to the satisfaction of your boss. Trust is multi-way in a network while hyperlinks and social media subvert organizational control mechanisms.
Here is a note I made at a conference this week: All this talk about the digital economy and nobody really understands networks – hierarchical mental model dominates – sad 🙁
As Stephen Downes wrote, “In a chaotic environment, knowledge is nothing more than pattern recognition.”
Network learning helps with pattern recognition and we need to develop shared mental models of networks to get out of our command & control organizational mindsets. Personally engaging in network learning is the first step.