Knowledge Power for the People

In an era of WEB 2.0, the power of sharing knowledge is driven by technology and created by individuals and the organizations or communities of practice that guide them. All the technology at our disposal creates an exponential opportunity for knowledge management practice and application. So, what is WEB 2.0? Furthermore, what is WEB 1.0? What makes these technologies so different?

internet-of-things-concept-illustration

Levy (2009) details the differences between these technologies. Think of version one as a vehicle for commerce and version two as a driving force for people. The Internet has become a platform for building networks that engage users. If we think about how we use the Internet, we may reflect on how our needs vary and how this impacts the responsive design of platforms. The passive user approach collects our activity history and provides an added value, such as recommendations for products based on our past purchase behaviors. This passive user is becoming a relic of the WEB 1.0 era. As our expectations progress, so does technology. We are now active users – we add to the content of others (e.g. hashtags) and collaborate with others (e.g., Google Docs, Wikis). The ways we evolve as users affect individuals and organizations.

For the individual, platforms for social media provides a communication infrastructure that is malleable and impressionable (Hemsley & Mason, 2013). We can build and change our social networks, gain social interaction and feedback, and share and re-share the knowledge and perceptions ourselves and our networks. Because of these functions, we can reduce the tangible and intangible costs of social exchanges. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube allow us to self-publish and collaborate toward a collective intelligence (Levy, 2009).

infrastructureSo, how do these technologies supporting knowledge management affect organizations? First, we live in a world the connected consumer. Organizations that seek to stay connected and relevant to these consumers must exist in the WEB 2.0 ecosystem. Because the organization lives with us in this complex system, the customer becomes part of the knowledge management equation (Chua & Banerjee, 2013). We live in a viral world where knowledge spreads similar to that of a disease epidemic (Hemsley & Mason, 2013). Grass-root viral events often occur, most notably when hashtags are hijacked. These events may spiral out of control, which makes crisis communication a critical element of an organization’s strategic social media planning. Recognizing the role of the customer in knowledge management has a significant impact on how we view brands. For example, Chua and Banerjee (2013) details the success of Starbucks in their customer knowledge management approach, recognizing that “Starbucks redefines the roles of its customers through the use of social media by transforming them from passive recipients of beverages to active contributors of innovation” (p. 245).

In addition to customer knowledge management, it is critical for organizations to recognize the value WEB 2.0 brings to the employee experience. As millennials filter into today’s workplace, WEB 2.0 services are expected (Levy, 2009). Not only are these services commonplace, but they also provide a way for the employee to assimilate to and participate in the larger organizational culture. For example, Grace (2009) details the advantages of using Wikis. Wikis are “a democratic, accessible community of uses responsible for its own content, support by an open model of knowledge creation and communication” (p. 64). These communities come in various shapes and sizes as detailed by Kamryn in her recent blog. Despite security and data migration issues, the Wiki offers novel and easy solutions for knowledge management and organizational culture-building.

The savvy organization recognizes the importance of WEB 2.0 to the customer, the employee, and the brand. Viewing the ecosystem as a web of active users benefits organizational and customer knowledge management. An awareness of the strengths and challenges of new platforms will help organizations find their place in the modern communication infrastructure.

References

Chua, A. Y. K., & Banerjee, S. (2013). Customer knowledge management via social media: The case of Starbucks. Journal of Knowledge Management, 17(2), 237-249. doi:10.1108/13673271311315196

Grace, T. P. L. (2009). Wikis as a knowledge management tool. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 64-74. doi:10.1108/13673270910971833

Hemsley, J., & Mason, R. M. (2013). Knowledge and knowledge management in the social media age. Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce, 23(1), 138-167. doi10.1080/10919392.2013.748614

Levy, M. (2009). Web 2.0 implications on knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(1), 120-134. doi:10.1108/13673270910931215

Chua, A. Y. K., & Banerjee, S. (2013). Customer knowledge management via social media: The case of Starbucks. Journal of Knowledge Management, 17(2), 237-249. doi:10.1108/13673271311315196

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12 thoughts on “Knowledge Power for the People

    • I would agree that what you describe is passive use. The Levy article refers the organizational side rather than the individual. Additionally, the Chua article seems to infer that any social media interaction with organizations is “active”.

      • @rhugenwrites — another way to state it: think of web 2.0 as a multi-purpose platform rather than a single-purpose product — as such, it offers a framework for multiple forms of engagement, whether that engagement is passive or active — whether it entails knowledge creation, sharing, dissemination, and so forth rather than just merely passive engagement.

  1. You mention that passive users are becoming relics of Web 1.0 and that we are becoming more active users in the Web 2.0 era. I definitely agree about that, as I witness it every day. Of course there are still many passive users in the Web 2.0 era. Would you say that those passive users from Web 1.0 era became the active users in the Web 2.0 era, generally speaking? Or have those passive users, in general, stayed passive users in the Web 2.0 era?

    • That’s an interesting question. I don’t think a wholly passive user exists anymore. If a user is contributing to collective knowledge through social media networks (e.g., status updates, etc.), then I would consider the user minimally active.

  2. Your commercial vehicle vs family van explanation of Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 is brilliant. I understand what the difference is but that metaphor hit it spot on for me. To me, grassroots activism on the internet is the quintessential example of what Web 2.0 is now. I do think the passivity you speak of is still an important part of the Web though. It may be a ‘relic’ but I truly think because however much I am a Web 2.0 user, the ways of Web 1.0 are the way I use the internet most often. Anyone else do that?

  3. Can a user be passive if they view something but do not interact with others directly? Say someone who uses Facebook, but does not chat or respond to any posts? Would friending be viewed then as their sole form of activity?

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