In the article, The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex, Sean Blanda says the main interest of too many writers and pundits “is not in making the reader’s life any better, it is in building their own profile as some kind of influencer or thought leader”.
“The bullshit industrial complex is a pyramid of groups that goes something like this:
Group 1: People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.
Group 2: People writing about group 1 in clear, concise, accessible language.
[And here rests the line of bullshit demarcation…]
Group 3: People aggregating the learnings of group 2, passing it off as first-hand wisdom.
Group 4: People aggregating the learnings of group 3, believing they are as worthy of praise as the people in group 1.
Groups 5+: And downward….
The Complex eventually becomes a full fledged self-sufficient ecosystem when people in group 4 are reviewing books by people in group 3 who are only tweeting people in group 2 who are appearing on the podcasts started by people in group 3.”
A main component of the personal knowledge mastery (PKM) discipline is adding value to knowledge, or being a knowledge catalyst.
The knowledge gained from PKM is an emergent property of all its activities. For example, merely tagging an article in a system like Diigo, does not create knowledge. The process of seeking out information sources, making sense of them through some actions, and then sharing with others to confirm or accelerate our knowledge are interlinked activities from which knowledge slowly emerges.
Professional and enterprise social networks are becoming the norm. We have passed the initial infatuation stage with social media and more people are using these media to get things done, solve problems, make connections, and improve their creativity. However, each community member has to have effective sense-making processes, or social networks are nothing more than noise amplification.
Adding value to information is an important aspect of online communities, where more of us connect for professional development. Active community members ensure that environmental scans are done, connect and converse with other members, commit to ongoing questioning, make suggestions, and help to develop new information tools (e.g. checklists). Knowledge catalysts also help to organize peer-to-peer events that are important to maintain the community.
Take a good look at your sense-making practices and ask if you are adding value. Does your work fall below Sean Blanda’s ‘demarcation line’? Are you what Valdis Krebs calls a ‘clickspert’? If so, it’s time to climb up the pyramid.