I’m hoping you might help me identify some productive ways to navigate the vast intellectual space of knowledge management that seems colonized by everyone from information scientists to network-actor mappers to higher education pedagogists.
Here is the short story: My work in DC with the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability is exposing me to intentional transnational knowledge networks managed by loosely formed communities of practice that steward knowledge about sustainable development practices on diverse topics ranging from water and infrastructure to climate adaption and food systems.
The transnational actors come from all sectors: Corporate, Civil, Faith, and Government. They have linkages that extend from the global (conferences, contracts, partnerships,…) to the local (companies, markets, and shovel ready projects). The goal of the transnational knowledge networks is to find and distribute best management practices to where they might be of use, to learn lessons from applications, and to circulate those lessons back through the network. The goal is to make the world a better place, to build capacity, to help us respond to the emerging challenges of 2050.
The knowledge networks structure knowledge practices, structure questions that can be asked, and just like railroads structured where businesses and people located 100 years ago, the knowledge networks create and structure opportunity today. Said differently, knowledge networks are the infrastructure of problem solving.
Knowledge networks probably also have positive feedback loops. They certainly affect the answers we get to the questions we ask, so they eventually shape the questions we ask, because we want to ask questions to which answers can be provided, otherwise why bother. Ultimately this positive feedback structures what we know and how we think.
- The computer is “an engine not a camera”
- “Computers represent the world and thereafter create it”
What should I be reading? Who should I talk to?
One quick, enthusiastic book recommendation: Michael Nielsen, “Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science.” I think you’ll find much food for thought there, as well as excellent analyses of why it can be very difficult to knit these networks together (especially within academia, ironically). The emphasis is on possibilities and hope, however, and Nielsen is himself a physicist so there’s considerable scientific credibility here.
As for conversation, well, more on that soon….
I’m wondering if instead of “networked science,” which I think is how Nielsen describes his contribution, there is something similar on networked practice
I’ve got several more thoughts, but I’m going to blog them and link to your blog here. Hopefully this will generate a trackback–stay tuned!
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