On Conversations, Connections and Context
John addresses a topic that connect be stressed enough: the concept of context in IT.
The stronger the relationship and commonalities you have with a bunch of people, the more you understand each others writings, the more chance their knowledge comes to be your knowledge.You probably agree with this, don't you. But then most of us carry on with our lives. John takes us back to this statement and makes us take a good look at it. Do we really understand the implications of context for instance when we email? Yes, we understand it when we discuss stuff face-to-face. But what happens when we have a conversation via email? Or when we codify 'knowledge'? W.r.t. codifying John says:
But the problem here even is that a codified solution is usually formal (stripped of context)Then John goes on to wonder if social media, such as blogs, give us more context. He writes:
eg. when this happens this is the fix
This doesn’t contain the situational context of the occurrence.
So rather than a sanitised solutions database, why not have support people blogging their experience, this way they are sharing the solution in the context of their experience and surroundings. (...)I agree. Using social media "there is more chance we will actually understand the intended meaning in the information".
Rather than having to write a formal and standardised solution after the fact, we can instead have a database (blog) of raw data (indexed by tags). Blog content is more colourful and establishes the situation (background and any other peripheral stuff that happened). This more humanistic (personal, informal) story-like and emotional type of language, is easier for the brain to absorb and remember (it contains triggers for recall).A wiki could also be used.
John also cited Dave Snowden also relating to this topic:
“They assume a common or constant context. So knowledge captured in one specific context can be generalised to apply in all contexts.”
Then he says:
“…blogs and the links between them are much better at passing on context than traditional KM tools. Mainly I think because they are fragmented, real time and emergent in their connectivity.”
But even then it won't be perfect, as John says. There's more context, but not full context. This relates well to the work of Katherine Hayles I've referred to before. One of her books is about the disembodiment of information. Information without context. The IT world makes us believe this is not a problem.
This post on 'context' also relates to the comments I made on Luis Suarez venture to stop using corporate email and move conversations to social media. This is very interesting, but here too the concept of 'context' is essential too. Can you just move an email conversation to a blog without providing (more) context (to other readers)?
By the way, another interesting post on his lessons-learned about communities can be found here.