Wikis and Social Patterns

Wikis seem to be a somewhat  controversial form of knowledge management in terms of social context. Levy focuses on them as being a “level three” tool for Web 2.0, meaning essentially that they are dependent upon this particular platform (or are at least quite well integrated with it). Her discussion also gets into how they are a “collaborative tool”, which seems to link up well with the ideas of Grace (2009) and Yuan, Zhao, Liao, and Chi (2013), as they all discuss wikis as a form of communication between people within an organization or simply through internet context.

Within the articles of Grace (2009) and Levy (2009), eBay and Wikipedia are discussed as being a major examples of how popular wikis affect the general social consciousness, in terms of how they function. Grace (2009) discusses eBay in terms of arbitrary controls and social interactions, which Levy(2009) describes as being “improved over time”. This “improvement” could be seen as the “social capital” described by Yuan, Zhao, Liao, and Chi (2013), as a platform gains strength and usability as it grows in terms of usage. This also seems to apply to all of the discussions of Wikipedia, though all three discuss the idea of social controls being imposed upon e-environments and tools, which make it possible to have this controlled environment which also allows for information exchange. This may be why Grace (2009) and Yuan, Zhao, Liao, and Chi (2013) think of Wikis as a social tool as a part of the workplace environment, as it Wikis can be both informative and controlled within a specific context for specific information needs better than other social media platforms (Facebook, Tumblr, etc.).

All of these article study a similar thing- how do humans control technology, and in turn, how is our information access controlled by one another. What programs allow certain behaviors and why? Which gain popularity and usability, while others become quickly outdated? Knowledge management not only pertains to how people gain knowledge, but to how people control it as well. RHMAXSONLIS658 touched on through the idea of “knowledge transfer”, and KamyrnWeis discussed it as “societal interactions” in their blogs. All of the authors all dance around this idea in one way or another, but it’s inevitable that we think of KM as being integrated within a social setting, since the beginnings of human communication- knowledge exchange is typically through another person, whether verbally or electronically. I think that sometimes the intense focus is on how social media is changing communication, when really it seems more like communication is simply being channeled differently. The people that we interact with, whether online or in person, are the recipients of an action/piece of information, and while electronic communications may seem more complex or convoluted, so are verbal communications. An unreliable Wikipedia post is just as bad as a poorly given speech with outdated statistics. An eBay exchange that  goes well bears a similarity to the same patterns of receiving good customer service at the store. Perhaps this comes back to Polyani, but if we are relying on human interaction through either medium, aren’t the mental pathways that we take in that interaction similar to one another (there are differences, but there are also similar emotions and thought processes)? I’m not sure if there is an answer to these questions, but the more information I read for this course, the more it seems to point in this direction.


Grace, Tay Pei Lyn . (2009). Wikis as a knowledge management tool. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 64-74.

Levy, Moria . (2009). WEB 2.0 implications on knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(1), 120-134.

Yuan, Y., Zhao, X., Liao, Q., & Chi, C. (2013). The use of different information and communication technologies to support knowledge sharing in organizations: From e‐mail to micro‐blogging.Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(8), 1659-1670.




Social Mores of Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management become further complicated, as perspectives represent different aspects of how people interact with one another and how organizations (which are essentially groups of people, but which function as if there is one voice on occasion) interact within their own members and with those outside of the organization.

Chua and Banerjee take the perspective from the viewpoint of Starbucks and customer interactions through social media. To do so, they essentially have to refer to Starbucks as a corporate individual- which may demonstrate how deeply the legal concept of corporations as individuals has become entrenched in our social psyche- “Starbucks” can be discussed as one thing, with one voice rather than a huge group of individual employees whose “voice” is truly a group of people- Starbuck’s social media team. How corporations function within our society is clearly discussed within this, as they discuss how different social media platforms affect our interactions as an almost separate social microcosm. Have a problem with something that happens in reality or an idea? In past, you would have spoken directly with the manager or with the business owner. Now, you can talk virtually with a large team of people through simple interactions, the same way that this blog does, but the person is interacting mentally with “Starbucks”, probably not thinking of the organization as many people but as a collective singular voice. How does a single person manage knowledge when they are exchanging information with a corporate body? According to Chua and Banerjee, it’s by discussing with the corporation as if it is one voice, one person. While this work is interesting, some of it’s references may need to be conducted again, as new social media platforms are emerging and others are dying (Myspace is pretty much null and void, but others have come about, such as Google Hangouts etc.).

Bissett discusses this from the opposite perspective- knowledge management from a managerial standpoint within the organization. This article takes it from the place of gendered interactions within the workplace, as well as new vs. old approaches, summing up with the idea that flexibility is key to working with groups of employees and coworkers. While Bisset lightly discusses how change will happen, there does not seem to be any concrete examples of his methods (RD, MD) nor does he give any specific ways to implement this practically. My question to Bisset is how does one take this approach in a practical manner? Where are the steps to do this? While the theory is excellent and is necessary, knowledge can’t just be a construct, it has to have a concrete way of working in reality if the study centers on the workplace. It’s interesting to see how people within corporations see knowledge differently than how they interact with corporations. The same person who picked up coffee for the office and tweeted about how Starbucks needs a cookie and cream flavored drink, is somehow also the same person who is implementing the “flexibility” Bissett describes.

Nahapiet and Ghoshal go even deeper into theory, but they do what Bisset does not- they discuss the practical of how people find and use information in social contexts. This article is the heaviest examination of social theory of the three, and contains a solid basis on past research as well as how people interact on a macro-scale. (“Structural embeddedness concerns the properties of the social system and of the network of relations as a whole”-p.244). Networking, which is a huge part of knowledge management (how do people move up/down in organizations, construct projects etc.), is less directly addressed. They also discuss how people with knowledge interact with knowledge management, by having “social capital”, which seems to translate down to, if people are in the know and have the data/have done their research, they may be more skilled at forging connections and succeeding within the workplace. This idea touches on what HereticalPoetical discusses in her blog on “knowledge continuity” when they discuss “codification” and “personalization”, which may interact with “social capital” and “intellectual capital” in that they are somewhat similar, but have slight differences in theoretical definition but may function within the same social space in a practical way.

It seems like the knowledge management scholars have a vested interest in examining the corporate identity and how it breaks down as much as how individuals interact and how they are a part of said corporations. In the end, this research seems like an infinity symbol (or an interstate in that shape) since it seems to come back on itself from different places.

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

Bissett, N. (2004). Diversity writ large – Forging the link between diverse people and diverse organisational possibilities. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17(3), 315–325

Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage. The Academy of Management Review, 23(2), 242-266.