Knowledge work needs social software to deal with information overload, or at least that is the title of the proposal I sent to the General Online Research 2006 conference.
Originally Jan Schmidt asked me and Gabriela Avram, Michael Schuster, and Marco Kalz to jointly propose a whole panel session for this conference. Our session proposal got turned down, but surprisingly, me being the non-academic in the group, my proposal is now scheduled to be presented at the conference. Probably because Jan Schmidt kindly helped edit my proposal to fit the academic atmosphere. The conference is in Bielefeld, Germany, under two hours driving from here (which is actually closer than most of my clients offices in the Netherlands), so an easy commute.

Also in the past months I have spent a lot of time on this subject, here in this blog, but also writing a book with my colleagues of Proven Partners. If this works out ok, it might even be a good base for further work to be presented at BlogTalk Reloaded. Anyway now I have to seriously start working on how to deliver on the promise I put in as a proposal:

Knowledge is the ability to act (Sveiby, 1997), and consists of the interaction of Information, Experience, Skills and Attitude (K = f(I*ESA), Weggeman, 1997).

With the ascend of the internet and the spreading of easy and cheap tools to produce and publish information, we have come to live in a world of information abundance, where much larger groups have access to much larger bodies of information. Our skill sets and information strategies to gather, filter, judge, and use information however are still largely rooted in the concept of information scarceness. The notion of information overload is the expression of that mismatch between information abundance and skills based on information scarceness, and the effect that mismatch has on our ability to act (=knowledge). (Zijlstra, 2004)

Social software are tools aimed at communicating information through the internet, but with social interaction and personal relationships as their channel of communication. They allow us to convey expressions of experience, skills and attitude in our exchanges of information. Therefore they are very well suited for supporting new information strategies that are geared to information abundance by leveraging the social context of that information. Different social software tools support different parts of those strategies as well as different types of relationships, and an understanding of these differences is needed. I will explore the place of different social software tools in supporting the required new information strategies by presenting and comparing different examples of the use of social software tools, and the type of situation and behaviour they are suited for. Through a qualitative analysis of these examples I will discuss how social software is key for knowledge work in complex situations (Snowden 2003), such as by helping to detect and create emergent information patterns (Johnson , 2002).

Johnson, Steven B., Emergence:The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software, Scribner 2002
Snowden, David J. and Kurtz, C.F. The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world. IBM Systems Journal, Vol 42, No 3, 2003
Sveiby, Karl Erik, The New Organizational Wealth, Berrett-Koehler Publischers Inc., 1997
Weggeman, Mathieu P., Kennismanagement: Inrichting en besturing van kennisintensieve organisaties , Scriptum, Schiedam,1997
Zijlstra, Ton, Every Signal Starts Out As Noise , weblog article March 27th 2004.
I certainly look forward to this, although slightly worried ;).

6 reactions on “Knowledge Work Needs Social Software

  1. Kenniswerk, social software en info overload op G.O.R. 2006

     Knowledge work needs social software to deal with information overload is de titel van een proposal dat ik instuurde voor de General Online Research 2006 conference.   Oorspronkelijk was het plan van Jan Schmidt&nbsp…

  2. Hey Ton,
    congratulations for getting your proposal through the review process.
    BTW… I really like your new Blog layout. Nice and clean.
    Any chance for a catch up call or chat in the near future?

  3. Sounds exciting, Ton .. and I doubt that you need to be very worried or apprehensive. i think you KNOW your stuff, it’s in your bones.
    But a few butterflies in the tummy are always useful 😉

  4. BlogTalk Reloaded Proposals

    I just sent in two proposals for BlogTalk Reloaded, the conference that will take place in Vienna in Octobre. The first is building on my entry for the G.O.R. conference in Bielefeld last month. I plan to do interviews…

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