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Category Archives: social collaboration

Knowledge Mobilization With A Conscience

I recently read two short but thought-provoking pieces: 75+ Ways To Do Good With Social Media by Mashabel Assistant Features Editor Zachary Sniderman (on Twitter @zsniderman),

and a Twitter post and blog by Erika Harrison @eharrisondotorg: The Intellectual Value of Caring from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Each reminded me (one through the power of social media; the other through intellectual caring) that the best efforts to combat social problems always include both thinking and action in doing something good for others. Knowledge Mobilization is a combination of both thinking and action.

Knowledge without a heart is empty and useless knowledge.

Knowledge Mobilization without a conscience is worthless and not effective.

Peter Levesque, Founder and Director of Knowledge Mobilization Works (on Twitter @peterlevesque) considers knowledge mobilization – at its deepest level – “an act of love”. This is far from being some pie-in-the-sky ideal. The most fundamental reason for sharing and being open to other knowledge and experience really stems from an openness to love. Now, I’m not saying everyone should participate in some big love-in, but Peter makes an important point.

On a more basic level, whenever I discuss Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) as a participatory and inclusive way of knowledge collaboration between researchers and research users, I often make the rather limited assumption that Knowledge Mobilization is automatically useful to everyone. Sadly, it is not. In our new knowledge economy, there are plenty of people who are still in need of the basic economic necessities of shelter, food, or clean water. Knowledge Mobilization would seem of little use to them. Fortunately, it is useful if knowledge is effectively mobilized.

Although those struggling may not concern themselves about or even know of KMb, Knowledge Mobilization is an effective means of informing policy makers – which in turn can help combat homelessness, hunger, and poor sanitation (even if those being helped may not actually be aware that the process of KMb is what helped them). So, KMb may not automatically be useful to everyone, but it is a way of bringing together researchers examining social problems with community agencies dealing directly with such issues in order to create effective social policies to overcome these issues.

When researchers inform and are open to being informed by multi-directional communication and knowledge that includes those living in poverty, social workers dealing with them, government agencies and policy makers assisting them, advocates lobbying for them, community agencies supporting them, as well as other university or community-based researchers studying them, the channels of knowledge mobilization are effectively opened and can contribute to greater value for all in society.

I believe everyone should have a voice in knowledge mobilization; but not every voice will have something helpful to say. Never the less, only when each voice has an opportunity to be heard and can contribute to the process of solving these social problems will such problems be eliminated. KMb is about creating value – not just for some, but for everyone.

When Knowledge Mobilization has a conscience everyone benefits.

Knowledge Mobilization at Conferences & Workshops: Putting The “Social” In Presentations

I recently read two articles that pointed to a shift in how keynote and other speakers are using more social ways of presenting at conferences and workshops. I was using my @KMbeing Twitter account for mobilizing knowledge when I noticed (and reposted) a tweet from Erika Harrison on Twitter @eharrisondotorg:

Conference format acknowledges knowledge integration takes bit of time, reflection, & interaction – http://bit.ly/epIKBj HT @DavidGurteen

(David Gurteen is Knowledge Management advisor, speaker and facilitator. Founder of the Gurteen Knowledge Community and Gurteen Knowledge Cafes).

The tweet links to an original blog post from Nancy Dixon, (http://twitter.com/nancymdixon) Common Knowledge Associates.

Nancy recapped a recent U.S. Army Knowledge Management Conference that she attended and spoke at. Nancy titled the blog A Knowledge Management Conference that Actually Used KM Principles.

The second piece was from Susannah at SQHQ, posting a blog Social Presentation For Social Media about a recent Digital Researcher Higher Education Conference that brought researchers and phd students together “to help create a strong research community”.  Susannah helped run a session on the digital researcher.

The most interesting connection that I recognized between the two events is the effective use of changing the usual (and sometimes admittedly boring) focus of the plenary or keynote speaker’s one-way “droning” style of communication to a more participatory and social style of presentation. The audience was asked to help define the direction they wished the presentation to go with reportedly effective results.

Both blogs and styles of presentation reflect the underlying principles of knowledge mobilization (KMb) – to open up possibilities of multiple contributions to established knowledge in order to further enhance knowledge for a greater benefit to society.  This is not to say that some plenary or keynote speakers’ presentations that are informative and provide knowledge to listeners are not interesting and engaging. But taking the opportunity to engage a wider audience and draw from a pool of knowledge and experience not only makes a presentation more interesting – it makes it more collaborative and social.

This shift in making conference and workshop presentations more “social” is a welcome approach to the fundamental principles of knowledge mobilization – greater emphasis on the multiple contributions and co-operation for the creation of knowledge. As the tweet pointed out, such a format of knowledge integration may take a little more time and effort, but the final results are worth it. Not only will conferences and workshops be more exciting to attend (with less drooling and heavy eye-lids) – but also more “social”.

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.

Private/Public Time & Space

Keeping up with Web 2.0 can be a rather A.D.D. inducing experience and, more and more, social networking seems to blur the lines between my personal (private) and professional (public) life.

Mixing private and public time and space, I use social media to connect with my family and friends, but also certain colleagues within my social networks such as Facebook and Twitter,

both at home and at work. I use these sites for personal communication and also to do research – specifically, the work I do as a digital researcher. Interested professional researchers like me are jumping onboard to understand how knowledge is being shared – particularly through knowledge mobilization – and why concepts of public and private seem to be more indistinct.

The many ways that digital technology can be used for both personal and professional networks is expansive, yet the lines are seemingly crossing – and my attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter!

I have two WordPress blogs that combine personal and professional interestst by putting my psychology and research background to good use. LifeBalance Questions Comments deals with general, self-reflection issues about life while LifeBalance Relationships asks and receives comments about intimacy and relationship issues. Both are designed for interactive and collaborative forms of social knowledge sharing.

I have a LifeBalance Twitter account to link to these blogs, along with my Facebook account to stay in touch with family and friends.

Then, I have this more professional KMbeing blog you’re reading right now, and a KMbeing Twitter account. As I suspect with many people, I like to keep the more emotional, self-reflective side separate from the more professional research side of my online networks, but it does seem to be more difficult. Thankfully, whenever I check my email I keep two separate accounts. I still have a private Yahoo account for private communications and a Gmail account for public ones.

The Internet has given us a multitude of tools to choose from to quickly communicate and collaborate. These constantly emerging tools can be used both personally and professionally with what seems like an endless number of applications, blogs, and websites being created daily. With constantly emerging choices it really does seem, as Apple says…there’s an “app for that” – for either private or public use (or a combination of the two).

The multitude of choices makes it difficult to keep up with the fast pace of digital technology while trying to separate personal and professional time. Now, public space is bleeding more and more into what is questionably private space.

Are my Yahoo emails or Facebook pages private when I’m bombarded by public advertising? (Now, Twitter is going to  start!) One can easily find oneself multi-tasking using a private cell phone to have a conversation with a friend while texting or emailing to the office on a PDA, while also “checking in” at public locations (via GPS on the same digital devices) to receive consumer reward points using Foursquare.

Where’s public and where’s private anymore?

Blogging and microblogging by anyone with something to say or share has become ubiquitous at home and at work. Sites like WordPress and Twitter have created systems of global connections that overlap the private and public.

Social bookmarking using Delicious (personally or professionally) and slide presentations with Slideshare make it easier to store and present data for and to a wider audience. Yet, this wider audience can be both a private and/or a public one.

On the upside, these advancements in Web technology and social media have facilitated faster and simpler communication, referencing and associations. On the downside, a primarily one-way data network (Web 1.0) has now become a mass network of social connections and tools (Web 2.0) for personal and professional users to keep up with. Sure there are ways social media has made things easier, but the lines between personal and professional are clearly being blurred. Global tracking and social network websites like FourSquare bring private gaming and public marketing to a whole new level. There are now even Open University and website conferences /platforms with keynote speakers or presenters that one can create or attend online from the comfort of your own home (or work if you like).

Keeping track of all of these private and public network connections and tools can become a time challenge, with professional time being mixed with personal time and vice versa. Keeping up to speed on the social media highway between private and public can be difficult and distracting – but at least I’ve got my iPhone GPS.

3 Types of Knowledge

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


I recently read and enjoyed The Blog of Steve Schwartz: No One Knows What the F*** They’re Doing (or “The 3 Types of Knowledge”).  Schwartz humorously states there are 3 types of knowledge, “There’s the shit you know, the shit you know you don’t know, and the shit you don’t know you don’t know.” He even illustrates the categories using a simple pie chart:

Although this uncomplicated approach to knowledge may seem slightly vulgar or crude, it does bring up the importance of knowledge mobilization in helping to widen the first category. Schwartz rightly points out that there is a “disconnect” between the proported goal of education and experience and the actual goal of education and experience. Scwartz makes the bold statement that…

“Everyone is as Clueless as You, If Not More”

…and he’s right.  Which is why the more we share our knowledge and collaborate using social media and social collaboration the more connected we become in knowledge – as well as in society.  For a further interesting read see The Relationship Economy.Sharing knowledge is the key element in breaking down not only intellectual barriers, but social barriers as well. There will always be stuff in the last two categories, but that doesn’t mean these divisions are static and unchangeable.

The flip-side of this equation is that once you take the step to learn more about the stuff “you know you don’t know”, you might just learn something about the stuff “you don’t know you don’t know”.

By putting available knowledge “into active service” – letting others know what you know, being open to the stuff that others know, and learning the stuff that others know – we might just be able to make our own knowledge  section of the pie much bigger.

On Twitter, I recently retweeted @Machobudda who points out…

“Not every bit of it (knowledge) is even of INTEREST to everyone”

and he’s right.  But even if you’re not interested at least you still have the knowledge.  It may be knowledge that’s different from yours, knowledge that you don’t necessarily agree with – but it’s still knowledge.

So keep scanning the web, keep sharing stories verbally or literarily, keep listening to what others have to say (locally and globally) in blogs or in journal logs – and keep sharing your knowledge. And then you’ll be taking a bigger piece of the pie!