KMbeing

Please Link to New Website kmbeing.com

Tag Archives: social media

The Difference Between KM (Knowledge Management) & KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)

Anyone who carefully observes the continuing development of Knowledge Mobilization – particularly by means of social media – will recognize the difference between KM (Knowledge Management) and KMb (Knowledge Mobilization). Among knowledge mobilizers, knowledge brokers, researchers and researcher-users, the distinction is fairly clear; but for others the two terms continue to seem synonymous. They are not.

The field of Knowledge Management (KM) was established as a discipline in 1991. An important KM paper addressing what was earlier referred to as organizational knowledge was written by Ikujiro Nonaka who made the early connection between tacit knowledge (experiential) and explicit knowledge (articulated, codified, and stored) with knowledge conversion – the interaction of these forms of knowledge – particularly to enhance an organisation’s efficiency, productivity and profitability. KM places a strong emphasis on corporate knowledge culture. Nonaka used the following model to demonstrate:

The field of knowledge Mobilization (KMb) continues to emerge, roughly established within the past decade. Early-on Knowledge Mobilization also adopted KM as an abbreviated identifier, but is now using KMb to make a clear distinction. Some of the early KMb literature refers to knowledge mobilization as KM, which also causes some unfortunate confusion. For a very brief KMb history lesson click here.

I recently tweeted about the distinction between KM and KMb after thinking about ways to make the difference more concise and better understood. My tweet:

Knowledge Management (KM) is the content; Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is the process.

Knowledge Management is about strategies and practices of organizing information to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge in a systematic manner within an organizational structure. It is the seemingly confined content of knowledge.

Knowledge Mobilization is the overall flow and on-going and constant input and development of knowledge. It is the open process of putting available knowledge into active service to benefit not just one particular corporate or organizational structure, but for the greater benefit of all in society.

It is the more corporate and organizationally confining factor of KM that makes it different from the socially inclusive and contributory factor of KMb.

To provide an analogy: Knowledge Management is like a cup that contains and provides structure; Knowledge Mobilization is like the liquid that can fill the cup to overflowing – always open to the multidirectional flow and input of knowledge from many sources that contributes to the constant liquid being poured for and provided by everyone. Is knowledge ever a limited source?

Both KM and KMb are important for knowledge development. But the distinction must be made between the KM content and the KMb process; the KM organizational or corporate confinement of knowledge and the KMb social or community flow of knowledge.

Advertisements

The Knowledge Mobilization Paradigm Shift

Using social media for knowledge mobilization is the most important thing we can do as part of the newly-evolving paradigm shift from an information society to a knowledge society. We are seeing a transition from an economy based on material goods and information to one based on knowledge goods and mobilization using social media as an essential tool.

In order to understand this current paradigm shift, we must first recall previous societal revolutions from Agricultural to Industrial to Scientific – with the later leading to our more recent Information society and the subsequent greater manufacturing of material goods.

We must then understand the distinction of data, information, knowledge and knowledge mobilization. Of primary importance in the scientific revolution (and of course still today), data comes through research and collection. Information is how the data is organized. Knowledge is then built upon information, and Knowledge Mobilization is knowing what to do with that knowledge – how to synthesize the knowledge of both researchers and communities (academics and non-academics) in order to make it useful to society. Knowledge mobilization is the creation of multi-dimensional knowledge links or activities for the benefit of society.

At a recent business dinner I was asked by an executive member of an Ottawa based research organization how to best begin incorporating a knowledge mobilization strategy for what appears to be a research organization of  “old, white-collar dinosaurs” heading into irrelevance.

I suggested three key integrated steps to help them breath new life into their agency:

1) Face-To-Face Interaction: Getting their executive group to meet with other advisors from a variety of research, community and social media sectors – either in workshops, presentations or casual cocktail sessions – to generate conversation and ideas for funding and future projects.

2) Social Media Strategy: Developing a social media strategy that includes at least one designated social media staff member to help further promote the agencies work and firmly link and entrench the agency in the new paradigm shift by a successful use of social media tools like Twitter or Blogs.

3) Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Constantly promoting and presenting the agency’s own knowledge while being informed by Face-To-Face Interaction and a Social Media Strategy about how to synthesize external knowledge with their own – through Knowledge Mobilization – for better use to society, and not just within their own specialization.

Researchers, government and community agencies are developing deeper relationships than ever before through knowledge mobilization.  Social media tools for knowledge mobilization are helping these agencies achieve meaningful results beyond just good information sharing.

The knowledge society is a new phase of society using social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook that make knowledge mobilization faster, efficient and more practical. But some researchers, scholarly associations, federations and government agencies are still not aware of the major importance and role that social media is playing in this emerging society today.

Those recognizing the major significance of using social media beyond casual conversations and family/friends contact (see previous blog) will help keep the older forms and structures of academic, government and community agencies from becoming irrelevant and dying out. Those who don’t…well?

Macro & Micro Knowlege Mobilization – The Social Link Between Researchers and Research Users

(KMb Knowledge Mobilization)

Here’s a knowledge mobilization challenge for any researchers, community workers or policy makers…O.K. let’s open it up even further to anyone who is a research user (if you think you don’t use research in your everyday life – think again):

Ask as many employees, co-workers, faculty members, bosses, clients, patients, consumers, teachers, friends or family about using social media for knowledge mobilization (O.K…anyone you know). How many can tell you they used an iPhone app for knowledge mobilization? (If they don’t know what knowledge mobilization is – send them to this link). When was the last time one of them posted something insightful on Facebook with implications for research rather than a personal post for friends and family? Who provides or has ever received links about research, the work of community organizations or announcements and requests for input from policy makers on Twitter? Or quite basically, when was the last time you watched a TV show or news broadcast about current discoveries, or talked face-to-face to someone about really interesting things you know about in your life? Did you share your insights or discoveries using social media to pass that knowledge on?

If your experience is similar to mine, far too often you’ll hear “What’s knowledge mobilization?”; “I’m too old to use a computer”; “I only use Facebook to keep connected with friends and family” or “Twitter seems like a waste of time!”

But more often you’ll hear “Did you see that discovery/invention/how-to/news story about…?”; “I was talking to so-and-so about this great idea…” or “My son/daughter/husband wife came home from school/work today and told me something new they’re learning/doing.”

So why the uncertainty about social media for knowledge mobilization and the assumption that social media is only for casual conversations, or that some of the more informative casual conversations don’t count as knowledge mobilization? Because many people don’t understand the use of social media beyond the common meaning of social (casual conversations or entertainment links and blogs) to the influential meaning of social in social media. Many don’t recognize how they can play a part in the development of research and policy making – by sharing some of their more basic, informative conversations.

I refer to this as the micro level of knowledge mobilization using social media -when each person informs and contributes knowledge for the greater benefit of society via the web through their everyday social circles.

The macro level of knowledge mobilization refers to the more formal multi-dimensional links or activities among researchers and research-users that takes place between university or institutional researchers and community organizations or policymakers.

All of us talk to real people and share knowledge whether it’s face-to-face or on Web accounts and social media pages – we interact with each other formally or informally sharing knowledge. And as adoption of social media tools continues to evolve – like mobile apps that merge online and face-to-face encounters – we will begin to have more face-to-face “social media” interactions that are perfect opportunities for micro and macro levels of knowledge mobilization.

So ask some questions and share some answers via social media with your employees, co-workers, faculty members, bosses, clients, patients, consumers, friends or family. It may or may not be at the macro level of knowledge mobilization, but it’s always worthwhile to pass knowledge on even at the micro level of knowledge mobilization.

Making Knowledge Mobilization Connections Using Social Media – The Old Spice Way

Facebook and Twitter have become such familiar words globally. When social media nouns like Facebook and Twitter become verbs as quickly as Google did (“Did you Google him?”  or “I’ll Facebook you” or “I’ll Twitter you“) we need to sit up and pay attention – especially with using these tools for greater knowledge mobilization.

Recently, we’ve all seen a greater number of marketers taking advantage of the popularity of social media to sell products quite successfully. The popularity of the recent Old Spice campaign has infused new life into an outdated product that many aptly considered only for Old Men! Some may find these ads annoying, some may find them savvy, and some may even find them sexy and distracting. But it shows that using a social media strategy seriously can create a far-reaching tool to spread knowledge about a product.

So why aren’t more knowledge brokers using a social media strategy to create a far-reaching tool to mobilize knowledge? (Yet another verb!). Isn’t knowledge that contributes to better social policy and decision making just as (or even more) important as selling products? Yet, it surprises me whenever I ask colleagues in the academic or KMb world if they have a Facebook or Twitter account and they say “no’! Perhaps because some think that such social media tools are only for marketers or for friends & family contacts.

One example of a successful KMb social media strategy comes from ResearchImpact’s Mobilize This! and their Twitter feed which helps translate research into clear language while also being informed by KMb from the social media community.

I’m sure if you’re reading this blog you’re probably already making knowledge mobilization connections using social media. If by chance you’ve somehow managed to stumble across this blog and you’re not using social media to mobilize knowledge what are you waiting for?

If you’re not making knowledge mobilization connections using social media, you’re like the old man who uses old spice only because of an old way of limited and old-style thinking. Perhaps it’s time to splash on some new KMb cologne and attract some greater social media attention.

A Little Knowledge Mobilization History Lesson

The belief that having and exchanging knowledge greatly contributes to the advancement of civilization is argued to go back as far as the Greeks (Rich, 1979. Science Communication, 1, 6-30). From the early twentieth-century, one of the great fore-thinkers and contributors to the idea of relational behaviour and knowledge exchange is the French sociologist and social psychologist Gabriel Tarde. Among his theories, Tarde proposed a different way of looking at the social world, not from the perspective of the individual or the group, but from how products, acts and ideas (including knowledge) can be used to classify individuals or groups.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend an Ontario KTE (Knowledge Transfer & Exchange) Community of Practice (CoP) event. I am a member of this KTE CoP and was excited to finally meet nursing scholar and knowledge utilization researcher, Carole Estabrooks at her presentation: Exploring the Applicability of Research to the Practice of Knowledge Translation. The decades of Estabrooks’ work and experience was evident as she shared her knowledge about the history, contexts and research being done in the practice of knowledge translation (knowledge mobilization) today (see blog about KMb definition & terminology).

In a longtitudinal analysis paper, Estabrooks  and colleagues have traced the historical development of the knowledge transfer field between 1945 and 2005 with an author co-citation analysis of over 5,000 scholarly articles. Their research shows limited citation before the 1960s. It’s not until the mid-1960s that a flourishing of the literature on knowledge transfer and knowledge utilization began, with the largest increase from 1995 to 2004. One of the most cited authors and contributors to the field is considered to be Everett Rogers.

It was Rogers who furthered Tarde’s “laws of imitation” in the 1962 book Diffusion of innovations. Rogers also identifies nine major disciplines in which research diffusion is most prominent: anthropology, early sociology, rural sociology, education, public health/medical sociology, communication, marketing, geography, general sociology, and a miscellaneous “other”.  Certainly, many of the members of the KTE CoP are included in these and equally diverse backgrounds. Evolving from diffusion of innovation, Rogers worked with colleagues G.M. Beal and Ronald Havelock to develop the term knowledge generation, exchange, and utilization to provide a more interactive understanding of the process of knowledge use, with a view that knowledge should be useful to society.

Estabrooks explains that knowledge transfer and knowledge utilization emerged as two new domains from the parent domain diffusion of innovation between 1975 and 1984. It’s not until 1992 that a new domain of knowledge utilization appears with the emergence of evidence-based medicine. More recently, knowledge mobilization has emerged to fill the void of the limitation of evidence-based medicine’s exclusion of theoretical or creative forms of knowledge. Other forms of knowledge include indigenous knowledge (such as narrative traditions) or informal knowledge that may influence a greater exchange of ideas leading to government and community policy-making.

It’s the more inclusive and multiple-contribution elements of knowledge mobilization that create greater opportunities to inform and enhance how knowledge is exchanged and co-produced today – especially today via social media. Knowledge mobilization stems from a long history – as far back as the Greeks – and continues to echo the view that exchanging knowledge continues to greatly contribute to the advancement of society – whether from dialogue in the Greek Acropolis to blogging on the Internet.

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.

The Echo of Social Media Past, Present & Future

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


I frequently use Wikipedia to define information – as I was about to do for this blog to explain social media (for those still unfamiliar with this term). I also frequently do a Google Search to find websites (new and old) to reflect on past research, gather information for my current research, and get ideas for future projects as a digital researcher. Although I found a blog post from 2008, its current relevance prompted me to take pause to question my own knee-jerk Wiki-p reaction, and re-evaluate my own presumed understanding of past views about social media and what the ever-evolving social media means today.

Furthermore, I frequently skip over online marketing websites, but made an exception for this new found older link – AriWriter.  I had never heard of Ari Herzog before, but was impressed. His blogs can be applied way beyond mere marketing, and as Ari professes, it’s an excellent website for “social media tips”. Ari Herzog’s archives are full of insight, and worth the time to read some of his latest as well.

Before clicking the link away as just another out-dated or annoying online marketing scheme, I saw that Ari rightly continues to point out how “Everyone sources Wikipedia as the tell-all for definitions, but the volunteer-driven site currently uses this vague sentence (not so anymore): “Social media are primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.” And Ari’s right. According to this out-dated version of the Wikipedia definition,  it sounds like a rather limiting one don’t you think? The latest Wikipedia entry does a much better job. (It sounds like Ari’s Wikipedia statement got heard and appropriate changes were made!).

Ari goes on to present a number of other definitions by social media practitioners up to the time Ari wrote his October 2008 blog (Robert Scoble, Feb. 2007; Isabel Walcott Hillborn, Oct. 2007; Mark Dykeman at Broadcasting Brain, Feb. 2008; Joseph Thornley at Thornley Fallis, Apr. 2008; Jim Cuene, May 2008; Santosh Maharshi, May 2008; Ben Parr, Aug. 2008; David at Marketing Integrity, Sep. 2008; John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing, Sep. 2008).

Ari was following a suggestion by Jason Falls (a social media explorer) to escape the echo chamber. Jason wrote about the fashionably-cool use of the term social media after attending a Blog World & New Media Expo in 2008. (The Expo advertises an extensive gathering of media mavericks and thought leaders). But Jason seems to have walked away from the event feeling as if many of his fellow social media experts need to pass on their knowledge outside of the Expo “echo chamber” to those who don’t know what social media is, or how to use it for its best and most promising potential. I wonder if any of his fellow social media practitioners have followed his advice since that Expo?

Ari picked up the gauntlet early on, and because of the Twitter-ification of social media –  challenged his blog readers to think about what social media is, and asked the question

Ari’s followers provided some interesting comments and definitions.

Two things I like about returning to older blogs: how our definitions continue to evolve as web-technology evolves; and how past experiences, ideas, and knowledge teach us something about the present, and make us think about the future.

The daily expanse and speed at which new webtools are being provided, and the personalized ways that information is being shared can make it difficult for any non-savvy individual or business to keep up with social media. Yet, as Jason and Ari state, the first step is defining what something is to better understand it, and then making it known. A final step is always re-evaluating and redefining.

As for my own definition of what social media is for the present…

Online social interaction of sharing experience, information, and knowledge that includes various forms of communication, collaboration, presentation, opinions, entertainment, and branding…(for now).


Web 3.0 (known as The Semantic Web) is on its way and is expected to be as revolutionary as Web 2.0.  I wonder what the definition of social media will be in the future?

A Tale of Two Cindys

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


Cindy King is Managing Editor of Social Media Examiner and a cross-cultural marketer who helps businesses develop globally by using social media. Recently, she helped answer a comment question from a person following her blog, Cindy Brock, about how to use social media, particularly Twitter to increase her number of followers, and promote an upcoming book. I do not know either of these Cindys, nor have I ever been in contact with either one, but I learned about them through following interesting links on Twitter. Three things I like about the advice from one Cindy to another:

1) As a marketer herself, Cindy King reaffirms proper consideration of online etiquette – or (if I may) tweet-iquette – even for Internet marketers.

2) I like her analogy of the Twitter cocktail party. As Cindy King says, “You would not just barge up to people, grab them by the arm and force them into your group of followers, would you? There’s chit chat first with people you meet for the first time, then you bring up subjects to see if you have things in common”.

3) Finally, I think there’s value in her suggestion of using a Tweet Plan with things like SocialOomph or Hootsuite to more effectively connect and increase followers and those you might wish to follow. Not just for marketers and business prospects, but for all tweeters.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not overly impressed with the barrage of Internet marketers vying for my time online just as much as telemarketers do by phone. (Thankfully, we’re on a no-call telephone list for that – and fortunately Twitter has a no-tweet block function). My point though, is that instead of slamming a tweet product in my face without making some type of social connection or interaction an Internet marketer will not sell me a product.

As a Digital Researcher, I’m particularly interested in knowledge mobilization – especially receiving and sharing information with the use of social media.  Twitter is one, excellent way of doing this, particularly because I enjoy sharing and receiving information and/or knowledge in a faster, more interactive social manner. Yet, I also want to get the most mileage out of my tweets. Mostly it’s thanks to all who are kind enough to retweet what I post, but sometimes I’d also like to share with others on the other side of the globe in a timelier manner. Usually it’s when I’m sound asleep in the middle of the night on this side of the planet, or too busy to tweet on a certain day. The use of the Tweet Plan creates this possibility.

Certainly it’s important to remember having a Tweet Plan to automatically retweet for you mean doesn’t mean ignoring the importance of the social part of social media. It’s like receiving email or voicemail for those times when you’re not available. But it’s not enough. Unless you’re willing to attend those cocktail parties in person and network, you’re never going to be able to get to know others on a more significant level (building interest, trust and reliability) and vice versa.

(The Trust Equation thanks to Jack Ricchiuto at DesigningLife.com)

So, some great advice from one Cindy to another, which is one of the wonderful things that Twitter can interactively do for us all. At the great Twitter cocktail party it’s a pleasure to attend and meet others who are interesting and engaging, and also interested in you. Perhaps you might even meet a Cindy or two.

KMb “In for the long haul”

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


I just finished reading and tweeting about In for the Long Haul: Knowledge Translation Between Academic and Nonprofit Organizations. (I was only able to access the full document through our university’s journal licence).  Although the paper specifically focuses on researchers and non-profit organizations (NPOs), the authors rightly point out three essential factors that influence any effective knowledge mobilization: strong interorganizational partnerships, using skilled knowledge brokers (like those found at York University’s KMb Unit and ResearchImpact – Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network) and meaningful involvement of “front-line personnel”, those involved in direct contact between researchers and community organizations.

The paper uses KT (Knowledge Translation) to describe what is also known as KMb (Knowledge Mobilization), and states that KT is “a two-way process” by “equal and engaged partners”. This may be a simple way of describing the ideal reciprocal nature of knowledge exchange between what has been referred to as the two-communities view (social scientists and policy makers living in two different worlds), which – by extension – includes researchers in academia and community-based organizations.

I suggest that using KMb goes further to describe a more multi-directional aspect of knowledge utilization. Knowledge can be translated and/or exchanged in several multi-directional and engaging ways:

  • mobilized from researcher to researcher within the academy
  • mobilized from researcher to practitioner or vice versa
  • mobilized from one NPO working with another
  • mobilized from NPO(s) to practitioners to researchers
  • mobilized from NPO(s) to researchers
  • mobilized from researcher(s) to researcher(s) via a community-based tool such as blogging or Twitter
  • mobilized from a tweeter/blogger that informs the research in academia
  • mobilized from word-of-mouth story-telling to NOP(s) to researcher to researcher – as only a few examples.

All of these multi-directional modes of KMb inform and can also involve policy makers and knowledge brokers.

Knowledge Mobilization is a more precise and encompassing term that speaks to more current social relationships and tools used in a world of knowledge that continues to evolve with and from web 2.0 technology. Using social media tools to inform and enhance knowledge mobilizaiton helps create a channel of equal and engaged communication- not only in academia and the realm of policy makers, but also within the world of social media and networks – but only if it is accessible to all.

The paper states that it offers some KT lessons learned from close partnerships with vulnerable populations like sex-trade workers and street-youth. It should be noted that the dedicated work and time-consuming efforts of over a decade of research and community involvement are a testament to excellent KMb efforts by the authors and community contributors to the article.

Yet, there are three points I’d like to conclude with and leave you with for any comments:

1) Why are two papers I have linked to in this blog only accessible through academic channels and not at a community level? (Did you try the title link and the two-communities link above to get the articles?)

2) Why are we still using a variety of terms (Knowlege Transfer, Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Transfer and Exchange, Knowledge Utilization, etc.) to describe all of what Knowledge Mobilization does?

3) Why did the authors of In for the Long Haul not make reference to the knowledge broker and KMb Unit at the University of Victoria as part of this paper? (Two of the authors are affiliated with UVic, and one was involved in early discussions about the start up of the KMb Unit at UVic. The UVic knowledge broker learned of the paper through Twitter).

The paper talks about the “Snail’s Pace of KT” and urges readers to “Pick up the KT pace”.  Perhaps it’s time they followed their own advice. Perhaps it’s time those researchers picked up the KMb pace.

A fork in the road

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


I spoke with my  husband about how happy I am to have finally found a professional identity that seems to fit with my life experience, skills and interests – being a Digital Researcher, specifically studying knowledge mobilization (KMb) in social media.  Better late than never – as they say!

My 46-year path in life (thus far) has been rather varied – to say the least. In my early 20s I began a career as a broadcast journalist, but (either divinely-inspired or suffering from delusions) I left the newsroom and spent 6 years studying philosophy and theology to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest. I finally decided to leave for three reasons: the lack of equality in not ordaining women; the denial of basic human sexuality through forced celibacy; and the church’s views on same-sex sexuality.

After leaving the church, I became a flight attendant by fluke! I was sent back “into the world” looking for a job.

I got hired as an F/A, planned to do it only for a few months until I could find another broadcast journalist job, but the Internet revolution of the 90s had taken hold. The newsroom was now a changed and foreign place for me and I’d have to bring myself up to speed. In the meantime, flying around the world wasn’t such a bad thing. Now 20 years later, I’m a senior flight attendant and have plenty of downtime to do research between flights – thanks to the power of a portable laptop and web 2.0 technology.

Seven years ago, I decided to return to university to study something closely connected to my interests as a broadcast journalist – observing human behaviour – this time, in Psychology.  As a student, I was given a great opportunity to volunteer as a research assistant in a Health Psychology Lab run by Dr. Trevor Hart, where I was able to hone my research skills and put my statistics studies to practical use.  I graduated from York University‘s Department of Psychology in 2008.

It was through personal conversations with my husband about knowledge mobilization that sparked my own interests in the variety of methods in which research and knowledge is exchanged, co-produced and practically applied between researchers and research-users. In fact, before graduating, one of my own research projects focused on the extent to which York University’s Department of Psychology embodied KMb. From that, I began to provide volunteer support for Knowledge Mobilization at York since 2007 around key areas of data analysis for various ResearchImpact projects.

I’ve experienced a few “forks in the road” and travelled down a path that has lead me to KMb as a Digital Researcher. The years of varied experience down all the different roads has had one thing in common; my interest in asking why? I think I’ve finally found a fork in the road where I can do that with a more fulfilling purpose.  Perhaps I took the road more travelled instead!