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Knowledge Mobilization: Inclusive Knowledge Bridging the Types, Uses, and Places of Knowledge

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb)

Reviewing some of my Delicious bookmarks, I re-read Waiting for the Social Semantic Web. What struck me again is a statement about the distinction between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 – the so-called semantic web. As we gather information by bookmarking and tagging we are linking various topics with various contexts – creating links to assist us in easier tracking and referral. But we are also contributing to the future of intelligent machines. The great divide between humans and thinking machines appears to be getting smaller with every tag that links information in a more digital way. Supposedly, the Semantic Web will make information stored on the Internet even more readily accessible not only to humans but to intelligent machines in a more meaningful way.

But how do we define intelligence and what is meant by meaningful? Meaningful is a slippery word that should not be confused with meaning.

Meaning has a definitional element, a descriptor for an object. Meaningful has a subjective element that is personalized with each individual. As we all know, what is meaningful to one person may not be meaningful to another. So can intelligent machines have meaningful knowledge?

Before answering that,  it’s necessary to first understand what is meant by knowledge. There are many forms of knowledge: academic, expertise or skill, theoretical or practical, awareness or basic understanding. Further types of knowledge include communicating (style) knowledge, situated knowledge, partial knowledge, scientific knowledge and symbolic knowledge. Yet, even the very definition of knowledge continues to be debated.

There are also two uses of knowledge: instrumental (the practical application of knowledge as a means or agency), and conceptual (the thoughtful, reflective process). How knowledge is used is also dependent upon context.

Is knowledge strictly something academic (objective) and found in the ivory towers of university or formal institutions of the world, or is knowledge something that every person (subjective) in the community has to share? This is at the heart of knowledge mobilization (KMb) where definitional knowledge is now being enmeshed with meaningful knowledge. Knowledge Mobilization is now connecting definitial knowledge with meaningful knowledge by connecting research and researchers with community organizations and individuals – listening to their voices while also providing information with a more social, collaborative approach to knowledge.

Now back to the semantic machines…

Like those intelligent machines, KMb is creating links to bridge the great, historical divides between types of knowledge, the use of knowledge, and the places of knowledge – in order to contribute to the greater benefit of society.

While the Semantic Web is advancing slowly – also being formed based on the linking of all types, uses, and places of knowledge – these three elements of knowledge are already being combined in Knowledge Mobilization. It’s through KMb that meaningful knowledge is being created by including, listening to, learning from, and linking all aspects of knowledge.

Intelligent machines may not actually be capable of creating meaningful knowledge, but using social media and the Internet for Knowledge Mobilization is a key way of contributing meaningful knowledge to the machines – and more importantly to the greater benefit of humans in society.

2 responses to “Knowledge Mobilization: Inclusive Knowledge Bridging the Types, Uses, and Places of Knowledge

  1. researchimpact November 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    You are onto something fairly profound, I think. Knowledge brokers are busy swimming in pools of knowledge that they forget to think about how different these pools are, how they are influenced by place, type and use…would different combinations drive different choices of KB intervention or methodology, I wonder? You’re on the edge of a new model of knowledge brokering (not that we need YET ANOTHER model) that takes into account type, use and space. Check out Vicky Ward’s work ( I wonder if there is an opportunity to expand on where she locates “knowledge” in her model. Then the task will be to simplify and reduce to practical application.

  2. KMbkteam December 1, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Thanks for providing the link to House, Hamer, and Ward’s model of Transferring Knowledge Into Action. I present my model of place, type and use to merely demonstrate (with a more simple overview) how KMb Knowledge bridges are not just two way modes of “knowledge received” and “knowledge given”. The work of a knowledge broker, and transferring knowledge into action is much more complex.

    As you point out, knowledge brokers “are busy swimming in pools of knowledge” and sometimes need some knowledge “flotation devices” to keep them afloat in the massive data streams. The interaction and greater complexity of these knowledge streams is well presented in the House, Hamer, and Ward’s model, and shows the many questions that constantly surround the process of effective knowledge mobilization, and the work cut out for knowledge brokers.

    As with anything complex, the challenge is to break down the complexity into understandable bites to gain a better understanding of the whole. This can be done by keeping focused on how knowledge mobilization -itself – contributes to simplifying and reducing the knowledge to practical application.

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