The first weblog message in 2011! Why did it take me so long to add a new message? The reason is that as of January 2011 I am one of the columnists of the Intellectueel Kapitaal - a KM-kind of journal from the Netherlands. Every week I write a short column (in Dutch) about what is keeping me busy in the field of innovation, organisational learning and knowledge sharing. The next column will be about this weblog message in general and Euan Semple's message called 'Can the web be taught?' specifically, because in this message Euan asks a very useful question:
How to pass on what works in terms of using the web to achieve things and make the world a better place? Should we be teaching the ethics of the web, the sociology of the web, the history and politics of the web?
Euan encounters this issue in business. He adds to this that 'most people ... may use Facebook at home and share their documents in a "knowledge repository" at work but have little experience or understanding of the transformative power of the tool that is literally at their finger tips".
I can confirm that I also encounter this. Therefore, social media workshop are both theoretical and practical in nature. However, I also encounter that most people have different expectations of social media workshops. Their attention span is much higher when they are just using it as they prefer. When it is about theory, sociology, cognitive science and so on I loose their attention very fast? Why is this? That's exactly what Euan is referring to: most people have little experience or understanding of the transformative power.
The comments on Euan's weblog post are also interesting because it shows some arguments or experiences which confirm Euan's observation. Mika Latokartano thinks that we should be teaching ethics, sociology, history, politics, anthropology, philosophy. Mika believes that what we learn from those disciplines can be applied to all facets of human interaction, technology enabled or otherwise. They're the sense-making tools for the information age. Mika continues by saying that he thinks that "we're dealing with a much broader issue here than just making people Web and tech-savvy. Western society in general is undergoing a socio-cultural transformation, and we almost seem to be entering a period of second Renaissance, and Enlightenment".
This discussion reminds me of Clay Shirky latest book called 'Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age'. In this book he writes among other things what the motivation is of using the latest communication technologies. He argues, for example, that "we now have tools for comminicating and sharing, new means for indulging ourselves in those <intrinsic> motivations ... We also have to account for opportunity, ways of actually taking advantage of pur ability to participate in concert where we previously consumed alone". By focussing on intrinsic motivations (rather than extrinsic motivations), this book focusses on behaverioul economics (derived from the cognitive science) rather than neoclassical economics.
So giving all these highly detailed and sometimes academic findings I can only agree that we should focus on areas like sociology, psychology, philosophy and so on, because we are in the middle of a paradigm shift, or in the words of Mika 'a socio-cultural transformation'.
I will finish this weblog post by referring to one citation from Clay Shirky that refers to this change:
We memorized phone numbers when we had to. but we never liked memorizing those numbers and we were never very good at it. We did it because it was a requirement for other things we did like, such as talking with our friends. The minute phones provided us with speed dials and address lists, that accidentally unfroze and melted away. Many of our behaviors are like memorizing phone numbers, held in place not by desire but by inconvenience, and they're quick to disappear when the inconvenience does. Getting news from a piece of a paper, having to be physically near a television at a certain time to see a certain show, keeping our vacation pictures to ourselves as if they were some big secret - not one of these behaviors made a lick of sense. We did those things for decades or even centuries, but they were only stable as the accidents that caused them. And when the accidents went away, so did the behaviors.