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Free Knowledge Mobilization with a Social Media Strategy

My grandmother always said, “give a little for free and you’ll get alot in return beyond yourself.”

I volunteered at a number of places throughout my life, thinking about “good karma” or giving  back to worthy causes. Yet, what started out as a volunteer position at York University’s  Knowledge Mobilization Unit is starting to turn into an aspiring career choice. In 2007 an offer to work (gratis) contributing to ResearchImpact created an opportunity to combine my interests in research, social media, human behaviour and the use of knowledge – in the multi-abbreviated world of KMb, KT, KE or KTE (your choice).

Coming from a fresh degree in Psychology, and work on a research project investigating the practical use of research findings within York’s Department of Psycholgy helped convince York’s Manager of Knowledge Mobilization, Michael Johnny,  to take me on. And (“bah-rump-bum-bum-bah” – sing the jingle if you want), I’m loving it. (I hope you got that free pop-culture reference, and  I won’t have to pay for infringing any copyright laws).

In a way (as Angie Hart would say about knowledge brokers who make connections), I am a “boundary-spanner” in my efforts to combine university research within the community of social media. I work (volunteer) for a university while also being immersed within community as an upaid Digital Researcher (I’m still waiting for any job offers!). My efforts present what is at the heart of knowledge mobilization – multidisciplinary collaboration between university and community-based research, and a contributional exchange of experience, skills and interests from both those inside and outside of academia.

Digital technology is ubiquitous. Researchers and brokers who are savy in recognizing the significance of using social media as part of a knowledge mobilization strategy are forging new paths of academic openness and community collaboration.  I feel privileged to be part of a KMb team using a digital strategy in ways such as thisthis, this and this. I’ve seen first hand how adopting readily available digital tools like Google Earth or Twitter are valuable.  They can be used for something as easy as visualizing patterns of brokering projects/KMb networks to informing and exchanging knowledge via microblogging.  Such social media research tools are changing the expediency and way we think about how research is pursued and collaborated. Research must be inclusive of the benefits and ever-present influence of digital media in our every-day lives to inform future research practices.

I enjoy the opportunities that come with engaging and working with other knowledge mobilizers across Canada and internationally – especialy by means of social media. Don’t get me wrong;  I like face-to-face communication and recognize its necessity, but I’m eager to spread the word about doing research using social media and including social media.

Yes, there are necessary costs to research; grant applications need to be done and not many researchers are willing put in volunteer time. But, it’s important to make use of the current “freebie” elements of digital technology as a vehicle for knowledge mobilization – at no cost. Incorporating a social media strategy in research projects enhances research. It provides a more expedient means of communicating findings over a wider audience – and in turn – is informed by the social media audience contributing to further research and connections.

Grandma isn’t around to know how far digital technology has evolved and shapes our lives today, but the message is still the same…give a little (knowledge mobilization) for free (using social media) and you’ll get alot in return beyond yourself.

5 responses to “Free Knowledge Mobilization with a Social Media Strategy

  1. David Phipps June 5, 2010 at 10:32 am

    volunteer your heart out Gary. You work understanding the complex elements of ResearchImpact’s twitter world will pay dividend not just to ResearchImpact and the understanding of the intersections of knowledge mobilization and socila media, but, as your grandmother says, they’ll return dividends to you.

    • KMbkteam June 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks David. I know that volunteering pays off more than just personally. The return may not be financial, but there certainly is “pay” in giving.

  2. Peter Levesque June 5, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Gary, you might draw some inspiration from this terrific article by Steve Denning that I tweeted:

    • KMbkteam June 6, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Thanks Peter. I think Denning’s perspective has relevance for knowledge mobilization in how we approach other forms of knowledge different from our own – to inform our own. It’s the type of empathic approach that one of Denning’s other readers made comment.

      I agree that it is important to move beyond the finite struugles of self power. We do this by contributing to the greater good of knowledge beyond self to recognize infinite power.

  3. KMbkteam June 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Also, as I commented on Denning’s thoughts, I stated the idea that the meaning of life is to live a ‘personally’ meaningful life with empathic power rather than authoritarian power. As another reader commented, there is a shift from “self” to “issues”; however, the self is not completely eliminated. It is a transformed self that moves from self-ish to a self-issues.

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