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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.

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Knowledge Mobilization, Universities and The Knowledge Revolution

Walter Stewart, who considers himself a “client-centered” consultant “for a knowlede-based economy” was a keynote speaker at the annual Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference (CANHEIT) held this past summer at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.  Several months have past since his presentation, but his challenge to universities – to IT administrators, staff and academic institutions as a whole (as well as the broader challenge to society) – still remains an extremely relevant call. I only recently received a forwarded copy of his presentation, but feel his views continue to be worth hearing.

Stewart talked about the current knowledge paradigm shift that I referred to in my last blog.  He pointed out that universities (and society in general) are experiencing a knowledge revolution – a revolution in ways of knowing – unprecendented in the past thousand years. According to Stewart it is part of a “process that is changing the very ways human beings know.” He suggests that those working in universities need to examine their information infrastructures and require “a well-developed sense of context” to keep up to the emergence of our new digital world, the “primacy of data” and the evolving knowledge economy (especially in emerging markets like China and India).

Stewart suggests the current role of the university is changing with the knowledge-based economy as they move from serving a niche elite market of scholars and researchers to serving a broader number of learners and knowledge mobilizers. I was very interested in Stewart’s approach in admonishing universities to evolve, and the implications of his message for all of society.

In previous posts of my blog, I have pointed out how researchers (academic/institutional) and research-users are working more collaboratively through knowledge mobilization as part of a greater free flow of data that is contributing to the greater benefit of society. As a community-based digital researcher working within (but not officially affiliated with) a university, it’s my intention to show the greater context that Stewart is talking about that is the reason for knowledge mobilization.

 

 

 

 

 

I am what Angie Hart (no, not the Australian pop singer Angie Hart!) would call “a boundary spanner” helping to bring university and community together.  I am attempting to bring greater awareness of how knowledge mobilization at the community level can inform researchers at the university level and vice versa. It’s good to see someone like Walter Stewart making that message known to university administrators directly. Stewart’s message is a knowledge mobilization message relevant to all of us – now living in a knowledge-driven digital age.

For the video of Walter Stewart’s keynote address link here AND SCROLL DOWN TO… Keynote 6: The Role of Higher Educational Institutions in Infrastructure
Walter Stewart
Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 8:45 – 9:45

Defining The Digital Researcher (Part Two)

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)

In an earlier blog I explained how the term Digital Researcher is fairly new to describe an emerging style of research that exclusively uses the Internet for data collection and knowledge mobilization.  I mentioned that I couldn’t even find a definition in one of the key Internet encyclopedic sources…Wikipedia, and asked if there were any takers up to the task of starting a new Wikipedia entry. As I use this title to describe my work, I decided it was time to submit my own Wikipedia entry to define what I do.

A Digital Researcher is a person who uses digital technology such as computers or a PDA and the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, to do research (see also internet research). A Digital Researcher seeks knowledge as part of a systematic investigation with the specific intent of publishing research findings in an online open access journal.  The intent is also to acquire research knowledge exclusively from the Web while also using the Web to inform further research and knowledge mobilization.  Although this research can be both quantitative and qualitative it does not necessarily follow strict internet research ethics using the formal scientific method as it involves collaboration using social media with public input to inform research and knowledge mobilization. There are a number of objections to this stance, which are all relevant to Wikipedia research.[1] [4] and research ethics.[1] The usual view is that private and public spaces become blurred on the Internet.[2] [3].

Research may also be formally published in academia through peer-reviewed journals or through the further use of social media. Digital researchers are involved with Basic research or Applied research using data analysis software such as SPSS or JMP.

The term Digital Research was originally used to describe a now defunct company created by Dr. Gary Kildall to market and develop his CP/M operating system and related products. It was the first large software company in the microcomputer world.

In my earlier blog my definition was shorter, but was expanded in the Wikipedia definition for greater reference-linking and understanding. It’s my hope that other Digital Researchers or anyone wishing to provide input will contact me and contribute to improving or further informing the credibility of this Digital Researcher definition. Please also feel free to contribute to the Wikipedia definition. I look forward to hearing your views. Thanks.

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.

KMb Funny: Digital Old & New

In the past…

An application was for employment…

A program was a TV show…

A cursor meant profanity…

A keyboard was a piano…

Memory was something lost with age…

A CD was a bank account…

And a hard drive was a long road trip.

How things have changed.

Portable GRUs (Global Research Universities) in Africa

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


Professor Simon Marginson, who teaches higher education at the University of Melbourne, recently presented the concept of the global research university (GRU) in a keynote address at the British Council’s Going Global international education conference in London. As quoted from the Times Higher Education blog, Marginson defined a GRU as a “multiversity”, active in all disciplines and fields “plus global systems and ranking … located in national systems of higher education, but also part of a global system at the same time”. Marginson also said: “In many nations, especially in Africa, there are no GRUs. None is in sight.” Although the blog did not address further why this might be so, it begs the question why are there no African GRUs in sight?

Perhaps a solution. According to textually.org, Africa’s digital technology is exploding across the continent as smart phone technology is increasing as much as 500 percent. Given remote access to web-based educational systems – like WebCT, and the unnecessary local physical infrastructure required, isn’t the concept of a portable GRU in the palm of your hand a no-brainer? Doesn’t it make sense as a goal of higher education to truly connect globally within and from impoverished countries already dealing with inequalities to promote greater global education?

Although the use of digital technology is growing in developing countries, Reuters reported that only 28% of all Africans had a cellular subscription at this time last year. Nonetheless, Africa continues to have one of the largest growth rates in voice, mobile Web and mobile commerce channels. One of the problems has been the cost of technology in such impoverished countries. The solution is providing handsets for less than $40 each, already being done for up to 6 million in Africa. African mobile usage has now surpassed fixed usage.

No doubt, Africa and other developing countries will continue to see a rise in the use of digital technology. As more individuals around the world have this type of global access and affordable cellular devices, the greater the possibility of seeing the further expansion of GRUs with portable GRUs – and a more educated global population. A more educated global population makes for greater economic development worldwide, and contributes to greater well-being of all citizens – local and global.

But we must remember to ask – by whose educational standards, whose educational values, whose educational beliefs? Western standards? Eastern standards? Northern standards? Southern standards? Or cooperative Global standards? GRUs, as part of a global system, need to accommodate open debate and higher thinking just as much as any on-campus classes in a physical university need to. Just as Web 2.0 technology has advanced the ability to socially interact and mobilize knowledge as never before, the greater this new web is cast across the globe to include rich and poor nations alike the greater the possibilities for global understanding and cooperation.

Professor Marginson calls for GRUs to be part of a “global system” but says “none is in sight”. Using digital technology to create portable GRUs around the world is the way to do it to put higher education – literally – in the hands of everyone. With the burgeoning of digital technology in Africa and other developing countries, perhaps portable GRUs there and around the world are closer than we think.

Defining the Digital Researcher

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)

The term digital researcher is so new as a career title that a Google search found only vague references to this latest Web 2.0 profession. The term can also be described with the more common term – Internet researcher. Digital researchers can be from any discipline, and use the Internet as a means of gathering information and doing research – specifically pertaining to digital technology and social media.  I first heard the term as discovered by my husband, Dr. David Phipps (one of the innovators behind ResearchImpact) as he was web-surfing. David linked to Vitae – a research website with a Digital Researcher blog and event. I liked the term as it describes the type of research work I’m involved with, but I still coudn’t find any formal definition to describe a Digital Researcher. Up to that point, I was simply calling myself a researcher using the Internet as my main mode of inquiry.  But my enthusiasm for the specific title matched that of David’s.  So, I went searching online to find others like myself doing the same thing – and a definition to go along with it.

First stop, the central Internet encyclopedic source…Wikipedia, but I couldn’t even find a definition there! (Any takers up to the task of starting this new Wikipedia entry???) I did find references to a company called Digital Research, but not much else of help. The closest I came to a similar affiliation is the Association of Internet Researchers in the field of Internet studies, but still not quite a Digital Researcher definition.

The first Google link directed me to a paper written in English by German authors. It’s called The Digital Researcher: Exploring the Use of Social Software in the Research Process, published by Sprouts. According to their website they are “Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems (often referred to as ‘Sprouts’) is indexed Open Access outlet of emergent work and working papers carried out primarily by scholars of the information systems field and members of AIS, the Association for Information Systems.”

I am a great proponent of Open Access publications (as you will note from my call for more open access to journal papers in my previous blog). However, one problem that can occur is the lack of proofreading before submitting. A typo here or there can happen, but this paper – perhaps due to language/translation problems – had several typos. Don’t get me wrong; I found the paper very insightful about the research process along with great information about digital media, such as delicious, citeulike, connotea, scienceblog, scientificblogging, technorati, twitter and wikicfp. But Open Access does not mean oversights and sloppy writing.

Unfortunately, the paper is also rather elitist by focusing only on what might be considered “professional” scientists while ignoring community-based researchers entirely. It falls short of defining what a Digital Researcher is by claiming that Digital Researchers are only part of the scientific community, i.e. academia. It ignores anyone contributing to knowledge mobilization (not part of the formal scientific community) doing research using the expanse of social media tools inherent in the work of a Digital Researcher.

My work as a Digital Researcher is inclusive of all types of  knowledge mobilization – within science disciplines as well as within communities across the Internet (whether global, local, or global-local). Perhaps a formal definition of a Digital Researcher is required. Could I possibly be the first person to attempt to define Digital Researcher for the Web 2.0 generation? Here goes…

Definition of Digital Researcher: A person, who systematically investigates, collects and analyzes knowledge within social media, using digital technology that generates, stores, and processes data. The digital researcher then uses social media and digital technology to mobilize the knowledge acquired by the research.

At least it’s a start to defining the field. I thought you could find just about everything on Google? Guess I was wrong. (Oh, and feel free to quote me on this when you include it in Wikipedia!).