You’d think Knowledge Management (KM), that venerable IT-based social engineering discipline which came up with evocative phrases like “community of practice,” “expertise locater,” and “knowledge capture,” would be in the vanguard of the 2.0 revolution. You’d be wrong. Inside organizations and at industry fora today, every other conversation around social media (SM) and Enterprise 2.0 seems to turn into a thinly-veiled skirmish within an industry-wide KM-SM shadow war. I suppose I must be a little dense, because it took not one, not two, but three separate incidents before I realized there was a war on. Here’s what’s going on: KM and SM look very similar on the surface, but are actually radically different at multiple levels, both cultural and technical, and are locked in an undeclared cultural war for the soul of Enterprise 2.0. And the most hilarious part is that most of the combatants don’t even realize they are in a war. They think they are loosely-aligned and working towards the same ends, with some minor differences of emphasis. So let me tell you about this war and how it is shaping up. Hint: I have credible neutral “war correspondent” status because I was born in 1974.
Anatomy of a Hidden Corporate War
The three incidents which got me clued in, suitably anonymized, are the following. I end each anecdote with my in-the-moment reaction. Ask yourself, as you read these, what caused the dissonance at the heart of each incident.
The Reassuring Consultant
Early (and by that I mean less than two years ago of course) in my social media cheer-leading efforts at work, I was a participant in a workshop organized by our IT organization, led by a self-styled middle-aged social media consultant who’d been brought in to help us think about 2.0 strategy. He was a great guy and engaging speaker, and made several sophisticated and thought-provoking points. But throughout, he kept returning to the reassuring theme that there wasn’t much new going on. He reassured us that these things come and go in cycles, and that 2.0/SM were really just the latest labels for what used to be called KM. And then he told us all about his recommended KM-informed strategy to respond to the social media trend.
Throughout the talk, I had a distinct sense of unease, of being on the deck of the Titanic listening to a fiddler playing a soothing melody designed to distract from the consequential elements of the situation. But I couldn’t figure out the source of my unease.
The Skirmish at the Conference
A few months later, I was one of four panelists at an industry symposium, where our theme was social media. An older panelist from another company, architect of a major, moderately successful, stable and decade-old KM effort — call him B — went first. He completely ignored new elements in the technology and forcefully presented the design pattern for his success as the design pattern for success (his was an approach I’d call waterfall social engineering, involving elaborate up-front charters, courting of subject-matter experts (SMEs) and “stakeholders” and formal launch events).
I admit I sometimes like to set the cat among the pigeons just out of sheer bloodymindedness, so when my turn came, I changed my prepared script on the fly, and turned my talk into a deliberate antithesis of B’s talk. Partly I did it to wake up the somnolent audience, but partly because I truly did disagree with almost everything B said. Where he advocated planning, I advocated ad-hoc experimentation. Where he advocated charters to declare expected value, I advocated a you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it approach to discovering value. Where he talked about convincing SMEs, I argued that you should just watch for opinion leaders to emerge. Now, a year later, I know what subconscious itch made me play contrarian. At the time though, it was just me having a bit of fun (and the audience enjoyed it — several people came up to me later and said they really appreciated me saying the things I did).
Still, I left the event feeling rather bad about having caused some polarization instead of driving towards a synthesis. Though he had a rather annoyingly pedantic manner, B really did know his stuff, and there was value in what he said.
The Insistent Expert
The third example came via a meeting where I was supposed to informally provide some consulting input to a manager from another internal organization at my company. The manager in question had been chartered by a senior manager to look into creating an online community for a certain purpose, and had probably been asked to “reach out” to me. This sort of thing happens fairly often to me (once you get labeled as a social media go-to guy, you get sucked into all sorts of “reach-out” conversations). In this particular case though, I recall the conversation being particularly difficult and going nowhere. At least three times in the conversation, the manager repeated, rather insistently, “I am a certified Knowledge Manager; I know how to do this stuff; I’ve done this before.” Finally, I gave up and closed the conversation politely. We were talking at cross-purposes, and he clearly had no intention of listening, being influenced, or acknowledging that changes in technology ought to motivate a re-examination of existing best practices.
Again, I did not doubt the good faith or competence of the person on the other end of the conference call, but I was left wondering why this conversation had been so frustrating when other, similar conversations, had been vastly more productive.
I have a whole bunch of other examples filed away, but these should be enough to give you an idea of what’s going on inside and in-between enterprises today.
The 5 Social Dimensions of the War
I believe these incidents are symptoms of a hidden KM-SM war. You’ll either dismiss this inference as a figment of my imagination, or enthusiastically resonate. I am not attempting to persuade the doubters as to the existence of a war, but to educate the resonators about some of the details. So I won’t attempt a detailed argument, but just move ahead with the assumption that there really is an ongoing cultural war. If you aren’t in the choir, well, move on. Nothing to see here.
The uber-cause of this war is that Knowledge Management was conceived as a top-down Boomer (born 1946 – 62) management effort, created by this generation just as it was moving into leadership positions. Social Media, on the other hand, is a Millenial/Gen Y (born 1980 -) movement. This overall generational cultural divide has shaped the ongoing corporate cultural war. This leads to vast, and I mean truly VAST, differences in how the two movements approach enterprise social engineering (for background, try Generation Blend by Rob Salkowitz, which I reviewed and summarized on my blog). The salient points:
So that’s the war for you, from a social perspective. These five major dissonance themes are at the heart of many an inconclusive and unproductive business meeting around social media. But it isn’t all a social story. Technology matters.
The 5 Technological Dimensions of the War
One of the statements I’ve heard repeated endlessly and moronically, is that the technology does not matter. That it is all about the people. This is simply not true for all sorts of reasons (the most important being the medium is the message, per Marshall McLuhan, b. 1911, Greatest Generation).
One of the clearest pieces of evidence that technology matters, is in the subtle differences in emphasis for comparable technologies from the KM and SM eras that are helping frame the ongoing war.
How the War Will End
It takes no great genius to predict how the war will end. The Boomers will retire and the Millenials will win by default, in a bloodless end with no great drama. KM will quietly die, and SM will win the soul of Enterprise 2.0, with the Gen X leadership quietly slipping the best of the KM ideas into SM as they guide the bottom-up revolution.
And it won’t be just a victory of fashion. It will be a fundamental victory of the better idea. SM is an organic, protean, creative and energetic force. KM is a brittle, mechanical, anxiety and fear-ridden structure. It is telling that the biggest KM concern is the potential loss of Boomer knowledge, a backward-looking preservation/archival concern, while the biggest current SM concern is probably the heart-stopping excitement around the possibilities of mobile devices and the potential Web-top-enabling Google Chrome.
Let me end with a personal note that hints at how I was won over by the Millenial creation of Social Media. Back in 2002 or so, in a fit of enthusiasm, I created a virtual community for an organization I was part of, using the rather KM-style early SaaS offering, CommunityZero. When a young, Millenial colleague first enthusiastically told me about wikis, I actually resisted briefly, in a sort of passive-aggressive way, because I didn’t believe such a disorganized approach could work. I was wrong (obviously), and converted.
The tragedy of Gen X is that we will not be remembered as a big-idea generation. We will likely be remembered, via a footnote (much like the Silents), as the generation which made the fateful decision to trust the creativity of the generation following it over the values of the generation that came before.
Venkatesh G. Rao writes a blog on business and innovation at www.ribbonfarm.com, and is a Web technology researcher at Xerox. The views expressed in this blog are his personal ones and do not represent the views of his employer.
[...] Read the entire article…Click here! [...]
[...] kentbye Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War: [Via Enterprise 2.0 Blog] You’d think Knowledge Management (KM), that venerable IT-based [...]
[...] September 30, 2008 — Richard by kentbye [Crossposted at SpreadingScience] Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War: [Via Enterprise 2.0 Blog] You’d think Knowledge Management (KM), that venerable IT-based [...]
[...] (and of course blogger) Venkatesh G. Rao wrote about Social Media and Knowledge management as a generational war. He spoke of several occasions where he was asked to give token advice to knowledge management [...]
[...] grateful to Mary Abraham for pointing me in the direction of Venkatesh Rao’s densely argued article opposing knowledge management and social media. In fact, it made me as despondent as Charlie Brown faced with yet another opportunity to kick [...]
[...] October An article originally posted on http://www.enterprise2blog.com [...]
The technology stuff is reasonable, but the crude characterisation by age group is a nonsense. So called Boomers are amongst the highest adopters of social computing. Interestingly putting things into crude categories is a process based approach. People do not have ideas and attitudes by age group ….
Excellent perspective with many very helpful insights. I agree with Tim, required reading.
[...] few weeks ago, my pal Venkatesh Rao, who usually blogs at Ribbon Farm, wrote a terrific piece over at Enterprise 2.0 Blog discussing the growing disconnect between the traditional Knowledge [...]
I enjoyed this writeup, particularly your differences of opinion with KM traditionalists at conference panels. Keep up the interesting writing!
Just FYI, there are a bunch of church folks we are also struggling with some of these same issues in our particular institutions. Thanks for giving us more language with which we can have more conversations.
[...] Read the full article at http://www.enterprise2blog.com [...]
[...] was drawn to Venkat’s post on the Enterprise 2.0 blog via What Ralph Knows. Venkat suggests that Knowledge Management and Social Media are in [...]
[...] article last week, Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War got some sharp and interestingly polarized reactions in the blogosphere. I thought I’d do a [...]
[...] the way I described them at delicious. Both are worth a look, a read, and some thought. Enterprise 2.0 Blog » Blog Archive » Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War – An interesting and thought provoking post on some major philosophical differences between the [...]
[...] Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War: The tragedy of Gen X is that we will not be remembered as a big-idea generation. We will likely be [...]
It seems to me that Venkatesh has conflated several disparate elements into a supposed war that doesn’t exist. First, he’s generalized two run-ins with egotistical KM “guru” wannabes. The type certainly exists, but they really do not characterize KM or the majority of KM folk. Secondly he’s generalized age specific generational likes and dislikes, which Dave Snowden above neatly rebuts. In fact, at a conference the other day, noted Gen-X wiki gardener Chris Rasmussen commented that wiki participation is in no way generation specific – he noted that on Intellipedia, there are far fewer young participants and the serious users are all closer to Boomer age. Finally, the real connection between 2.0 and KM is in the area of “need to share”. KM has always espoused the basic value of knowledge sharing. That’s why most KM folks are extremely interested and involved in 2.0 technology, although, at bottom, half of them are not really technologists at all. The real war is within KM itself, between the technology adherents (lovers of expertise locators and other “systems”) and the storytellers and collaborators (lovers of the relational qualities of knowledge). You could possibly characterize them as modernists and postmodernists, or, for that matter, Appollonians and Dionysians. It’s fun and easy to draw facile dichotomies, especially generational ones. The point, though is, KM includes both categories, and there is a large percentage of those (like myself) with feet in both camps.
There is no “war” between KM (as I view it) and Social Media. Social Media tools are highly relevant to KM. It appears that your view of KM may have been flavoured by the hype published by the IT vendors. Most KM practitioners (certainly most that I know and work with) view KM as being all about people, with the tools a secondary issue. Web 2.0 provides a fantastic new toolkit – one that is far more people-centric that the older tools – and is a great boon to real KM.
it sounds to me like you have seen the rather unimaginative side of ‘KM’, with people with staid ideas and rather political goals, so it’s bound to look nonsense.
yeah the original tech stuff wasn’t great but this has long since been recognised as such by all the imaginative km-ers, who are very keen adopters of new things that they can see work (not just adoption of new stuff because it is new, mind, that is one of the things that km-ers bring us is an assessment of the new social software, which is pointless is wielded evangelistically as many ‘social media’ folk can be tempted to do).
those who talk about knowledge who i know are imaginative, interested, thoughtful, structurally evolutionary, rather anti-political, organisationally ‘anarchic’ (kind of!), and not these rather dull sounding politics fan you speak of…
thanks for the post!
[...] Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War – Interesting article, via Ed Mitchell [...]
[...] Social Media vs. Knowledge Management KM and SM look very similar on the surface, but are actually radically different at multiple levels, both cultural and technical, and are locked in an undeclared cultural war for the soul of Enterprise 2.0. (tags: web2.0 socialmedia information knowledge) [...]
Venkat seems to be confusing Knowledge Management with something else — but I’m not sure what.
First he refers to KM as a “venerable IT-based social engineering” discipline. Just like the Holy Roman Empire was not holy, not Roman, and not an empire, KM is not venerable, not IT-based, and not about “social engineering” (whatever that is).
Next, he speaks of three “incidents” that convince him there is a “war” going on between KM and Social Media. Sorry, Venkat, but this venerable old warhorse/statistician knows it takes more than incidents to make a war, and more than anecdotes to prove a point.
Finally, he would have us believe that this “war” is somehow grounded in generational differences, and goes on to “prove” that through the use of strereotype. (Good thing he didn’t bring race or sex into his dissertaion. He could have gotten lots more people steamed up.)
Whisch leads me to wonder: Who is Venkat, and why is he using the blogosphere to insult the intelligence of so many? Or is he, perhaps, an agent provocateur — blogging with a view to stirring up the pot and seeing what will happen?
Perhaps you’re talking to the “wrong” KMers.
I think it is too simplistic to “divide and conquer” by age/generational divides. I also don’t think there’s as much as a disconnect between KM and the adoption of Social Media as you describe.
More helpful than the either/or, winner/loser/war analogy would be how KM and SM can complement each other and more, how SM helps to meet company goals and business objectives. Like profit and market share.
Knowledge management was a great improvement over the siloed approach. It was a major step forward and we should appreciate that rather than trashing it, just because Social Media has come along.
“It is telling that the biggest KM concern is the potential loss of Boomer knowledge, a backward-looking preservation/archival concern, while the biggest current SM concern is probably the heart-stopping excitement around the possibilities of mobile devices and the potential Web-top-enabling Google Chrome.”
I would say that this is a big concern and not just for KM – for enterprises. The Boomer retirement impact (loss of company knowledge) is not something that Social Media tools is going to solve or replace. I disagree it is backward looking, since unless you’re going to start an entire organisation from scratch the loss of that knowledge (and how to preserve, replace, diseminate and add to it) should be a major concern. I see Social Media being an enabler f/ex through wikis). Which is why the generational divides are not helpful for advocating adoption of SM.
Social Media practitioners need to speak to How Social Media helps meet enterprise needs and business drivers, (including the forthcoming Boomer exodus) not simply expect companies (or functions) to hop on board because it’s the latest trendy, Gen X Google-enabled thing.
[...] Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War: You’d think Knowledge Management (KM), that venerable IT-based social engineering discipline which came up with evocative phrases like “community of practice,” “expertise locater,” and “knowledge capture,” would be in the vanguard of the 2.0 revolution. You’d be wrong. Inside organizations and at industry fora today, every other conversation around social media (SM) and Enterprise 2.0 seems to turn into a thinly-veiled skirmish within an industry-wide KM-SM shadow war… Read More on Entreprise 2.0 Blog. [...]
Very interesting new set of reactions; in some cases illuminating. I am especially intrigued by Michael Novak’s post:
Venkat seems to be confusing Knowledge Management with something else — but I’m not sure what.
First he refers to KM as a “venerable IT-based social engineering” discipline. Just like the Holy Roman Empire was not holy, not Roman, and not an empire, KM is not venerable, not IT-based, and not about “social engineering” (whatever that is).
The very urge to frame debates according to canonical definitions is a KM way (a couple of the response posts also picked this rebuttal model) :). I stand by my anecdotal observation that in practice KM is IT-based and about ‘social engineering’ in practice, whatever the attempts to define KM may have attempted. ‘Venerable’ was my attempt at humor about the rate at which things become ‘classic’ in IT. You don’t get to define what KM is based on your sense of what it ought to be.
I find it particularly interesting that Michael can’t actually believe there are people who adopt the stance I do seriously! There is certainly a bit of ‘stir the pot’ in my intent, but by and large, I stand by what I wrote, and I believe there is good evidence of a strong generational component in explaining what is going on.
@Nicky: sometimes, when assumed consensus and false syntheses are gathering significant momentum, polarizations can help…
@Neil — ‘facile dichotomy’? Umm… it did merit an entire book (Salkowitz’s, with several more in the pipeline that I’ve heard of). Hardly facile. In fact, the opposite appears to me to be true — the idea that the SM is basically what a proportion of KM’ers have always been about is fairly vacuous false synthesis.
Finally, I should acknowledge those who suggest I look at a different population of practitioners, which, it is asserted, is more forward looking etc. Unfortunately, picking one population or the other within KM as ‘representative’ of the ‘true’ philosophy isn’t helpful. The other guys are still around.
Finally, to return to Michael, venerable old statistician: I do have more than 3 anecdotes, but that’s not where I’ll defend my argument. I do in fact believe that well-designed statistical surveys etc. would produce evidence of my claims. But at a more fundamental level, truly complex phenomena require ethnographic/narrative analysis first, and statistical analysis later (or in some cases, never). To dismiss narrative analysis of anecdotal evidence is methodological short-sightedness.
As for the repetitions of the accusations of generational stereotyping, I’ll let those pass; I believe I responded adequately already in my follow-up article. The insinuations-by-association of gender/race based analysis I will of course ignore.
Thanks all, for a stimulating debate!
Is it a good idea to break do……
Is it a good idea to break down KM and SM adoption in the enterprise by age? I am not sure. Dave Snowden’s comment to the article is quite clear that it does not. I am on the fence, but I think that the summary is true, Social Media type appli……
Here is an example of where the two could co-exist and collaborate
[...] successful style of facilitation match up with the newest Enterprise 2.0 techniques out there. A great article last month by Venkatesh Rao (thanks Mary Abraham) illuminated the inter-generational friction between successful knowledge [...]
Beth Harte led me to you via a tweet.
Great post. Very thoughtful. I agree with it in general despite the fact that as a boomer I hate being categorized in some of the ways you wrote about – even if they are mostly true imho.
I personally disagree that there is a war between KM and SM. This could be because I define KM slightly differently to yo. To me Knowledge Management is purely about the transfer of knowledge.
Knowledge Management is therefore not technology dependant. Effective KM can be enhanced by supporting technologies, and to me many of the “social media” applications tie in beautifully.
I have found that when many people talk of KM they are talking more about Information Management or even Records Management rather than KM.
To me if there was a war it would be between people who believe that knowledge needs to be controlled, and those people who believe that information needs to be shared. And to me both groups are missing the point, in that it really needs both. Knowledge Transfer needs to be done both in an organic manner and a controlled manner.
In a corporate environment you would ideally have the technology that facilitates the easy development of communities of practice, of knowledge repositories that everybody can “garden”, whilst still having sufficient controls in place that allow “customer” facing documents and “official” documents to have been authorised appropriately etc. As well as technology that promotes the idea of voluntary contribution and sharing.
You would have other business processes in place that help you transfer experience, rules of thumb, skills, as well as artefacts. (Yes I quite like the ASHEN model).
My view could be coming from the fact that like anything you try to get people to do, rarely will it succeed if you only attack it from one end. To get a business to adopt an effective KM method you need to get it going from both the top-down and the bottom up. Most organisational change works that way.
Heck, maybe I define KM differently to the way most people do.
[...] to Venkatesh Rao in his Enterprise 2.0 Blog post Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War, KM and SM are indeed at war, albeit an undeclared one. Kind [...]
[...] lesen: http://enterprise2blog.com/2008/09/social-media-vs-knowledge-management-a-generational-war/ Tags: enterprise 2.0, social media Share and [...]
[...] of online writers trying to talk up a “war” between Social Media and KM. Venkatesh Rao started it here, where he tries to build a complex, demographic case for war (I like his book reviews, but this is [...]
Knowledge Marketplace represents a new concept in Knowledge Management both within and outside an enterprise to propagate free flow of knowledge as it interacts as a social enterprise.
In the new world “Knowledge” must be traded like any other commodity. The boundaries that once existed defining an organization are getting diffused due to the social interactions that the companies must play in the new world order.
As Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams point out in Wikinomics the evolution of mass collaboration has fundamentally changed the perspective and the resulting sheer human ingenious.
The operational risk of an organization can be substantially reduced, if they deploy a system that helps promote this free flow of knowledge interactions between the employees, customers, and partners alike. A Knowledge Marketplace allows organizations do just that by offering a loosely coupled and socially interactive Knowledge System for Enterprises (Enterpise 2.0)
I don’t see KM and SM necessary at war but rather two complimentery ideas that can harmonize to create the enterprise of the future.
[...] it is that of the digital immigrants, or Gen X (which has been identified as a possible digital transition group, and to which I admit being a senior member), or simply a cross-section of digital newbies, [...]
[...] November 27, 2008 by arumugamsp Venkatesh Rao (a web technology researcher at Xerox) is not very fond of KM especially the Knowledge Managers. Here is what he has to say… Interesting! http://enterprise2blog.com/2008/09/social-media-vs-knowledge-management-a-generational-war/ [...]
Rather than pursue an entrenched conflict between “old school” knowledge management and social media perhaps the discussion should revolve around the convergence of the two. The term Knowledge Media is not new but perhaps now more appropriate than ever to capture the essence of social Knowledge Management. If anyone is interested two papers of note that have discussed the idea of knowledge media are “The Web of Knowledge Media Design” by Professor Ron Baecker from 1997 and “The Next Knowledge Medium” by Mark Stefik from 1986. Mark Stefik remains active in the area of social media and social knowledge management research at Xerox PARC.
As a parting thought, another related area of convergence today is of social media and artificial intelligence or more specifically natural language processing. Many of the social media monitoring and analytics systems and services use natural language processing to interpret consumer discussions taking place on social media to provide insight to marketing managers about what is being said about their brands in the social mediasphere. How long before these same systems and services or similar start applying smart analysis to make connections between social media conversations and to infer other collective insight from these discussions to produce new knowledge of use far beyond marketing and product management applications. This is one scenario for where the future convergence of social media and knowledge management is headed.
[...] before I get flamed again (the memory of my SM vs. KM posts is still fresh) for bringing up generational differences in attitudes and behaviors, let me hasten [...]
[...] ich finde die Bezeichnung Krieg etwas übertrieben aber dennoch ein guter Artikel von Venkatesch Rao zum Thema Social Media (SM) vs. Knowledge Management (KM), er bringt mal eine [...]
[...] In a noted blog posted on September 28, 2008, Venkatesh Rao made a number of claims about the relationship between the KM and social media movements. I’ll end this examination of the relationships between KM and the 2.0 cluster by using aspects of my previous analysis to examine his primary claims about the existence of a culture war between KM and social media. Here are some quotes from his post. [...]
[...] by Nathantheloser2009-02-23 – Comments on the two ecosocialist manifestos saved by ryes2009-02-22 – Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War saved by Ndan312009-02-20 – manifesto saved by SimonDorfman2009-02-18 – Essay Wrinting: saved by [...]
This isn’t about individual groups having individual differences that add up collectively to some kind of war, but more like the effects of a broader social-historical phase shift. The paradigm has shifted from a static, simple, ontology to a dynamic complex one, although I’ve seen some hangers-on even amongst the younger generation. The apparent generational thing is a result of the fact that in any cultural era, who is able to rise to the surface will change and who gets trampled under will change. I bet the Myers-Briggs NPs have the advantage today, while they were lost in space a few years ago. SJs might be in a bit of trouble now but have ruled for years – that’s a random speculation, but it may be interesting to investigate.
Thankyou for a very stimulating article – it has really made me think and will probably keep me thinking until the next generation after the Millenials come along! I work at an aerospace company and we invested in KM initially from the perspective of laziness – an often underated motivating force: –
Q – How can I get this computer to do more stuff?
A – Get it to process knowledge rather than data.
Once the KM team matured, they naturally worked furiously on COP, Yellow Pages and Lessons Learned projects – only to see their work rather overtaken by the Web2.0 / KM2.0 / Enterprise2.0 /SM2.0 tsunami. The penny is dropping in our KM team now and they are starting to surf the SM wave now.
I’d like to throw in another pattern for consideration: – Witch Burning. I’m led to believe that the whole witch buring thing was a result of the new profession of Doctor trying to establish it’s own legitimacy – by calling it’s competition witches and having them burned. Then everyone started calling themselves a doctor. It struck me how many email administrators call themselves Knowledge Managers these days….
I still reckon the laziness factor is underated in your article – I use SM purely and only if it is useful to me. I reckon that’s why a bag-of-hammers “product” like Facebook is so popular, it’s just useful enough to me so that I’m prepared to put information that the marketeers (who run FB) want from me on it. The rationale for an internal corporate FB (in large corporations) is perfectly logical – the board would be able to understand the employees and their networks for the first time – whilst the employees would be supplied with something that takes some of the tedium out of maintaining their network. The trick is to not tell either the Employees or the Board the rationale!
Thanks once again for a very stimulating read
[...] Venkat created an interesting post today on Enterprise 2.0 Blog Â» Blog Archive Â» Social Media vs. Knowledge …Here’s a short outlinefew weeks ago, my pal Venkatesh Rao, who usually blogs at Ribbon Farm, wrote a terrific piece over at Enterprise 2.0 Blog discussing the growing disconnect between the traditional Knowledge [...] … [...]
Really well-written argument, and obviously fodder for much more follow-up – I found this after reading an SM-challenged entry in a KM forum, and thinking whether there was a good KM vs. SM dichotomy to point to…
[...] over a drink next week on this question or any of our other favorite topics like culture change, KM vs. SM [...]
[...] Did Enterprise 2.0 kill Knowledge Management or is it Knowledge Management with a new name? [...]
Generational? Odd, I’ve been fighting this fight for 30 years — waiting for 2.0 and everything that comes with it.
[...] Caruso indicou a leitura do texto Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War, para chamar a atenção para este possível conflito. Sem ter a intenção de elaborar um resumo [...]
I prefer social media.
[...] knowledge management (KM) sparked by a blog post by Xerox researcher Venkatesh G. Rao entitled Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War. The controversial claim is that a generational (and hidden) coporate cultural war is going on [...]
[...] Rao is the perceptive guy who first noticed the war. His full findings can be found in his blog post. Rao believes that we are in the middle of a hidden KM-SM war. The real cause of the war is a [...]
Last year, a lot was written (and tweeted) about this supposed war… The death of KM was predicted. But there is no war.
To start, KM is NOT about ideology; KM has to be practical, hands-on to survive! Social Media are rather hands-on, but then, they are NOT KM! Rather than a war, I would say that there is a misunderstanding, mostly because the (traditional) KM practitioner is not fully embracing/understanding the power of Social Media, and of course most Social Media fanatics don’t know much about KM. Is there a generational aspect to this misunderstanding? Certainly, but in my opinion it is not worse here than anywhere else…
I think that some form of KM will die, indeed: the times of traditional KM with lots of discipline & structure (taxonomies and thesauri, heavily codified knowledge, etc.) are over. But there is a KM that will thrive: the KM of Knowledge Transformations (the good old SECI model), Communities of Practice, conversations, etc.
There is no war. We were afraid for many years that KM would die, but Social Media will be KM’s savior!
[...] triggering blog post I mentioned above is called Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War by Venkatesh Rao. Personally, I think he puts too much emphasis on age, but it is at the very [...]
In my view, SM is Social Learning management tools as main part of the future of e-learning.
KM on the other hand is an integrated access mechanism which can be used accross any management tool type. To get more insight, follow the links : http://mobeeknowledge.ning.com/forum/topics/map-of-knowledge and http://mobeeknowledge.ning.com/forum/topics/human-born-as-knowledge and also http://mobeeknowledge.ning.com/forum/topics/types-of-learning-domain
I think it is not quite relevant to comparing SM and KM whatsoever. It is more relevant if you compare KM with IM or in the future with Wisdom Management (WM) because both have the same epistemological line. In case KM vs SM, they don’t have such same line.
And last but not least, try also to see the link http://mobeeknowledge.ning.com/forum/topics/we-are-the-knowledge-hybrid (WE ARE THE KNOWLEDGE : HYBRID DEFINITION OF KNOWLEDGE)
[...] earlier generations of Enterprise groupware and Knowledge Management (KM) failed to do (yay! for my early KM vs. SM thesis). The usual laundry list of design principle differences are trotted out, starting with the [...]
I found your post excellent, thank you. However, in term of generationnal frame of mind I don’t know exactly where I stand and if I can still move. But what I appreciate the most is your openness toward the generation following you and the understanding of the one preceding you. Wathever the technology may be, I feel that this is the good attitude to make social networks a successful reality.
The emphasis in the two word pairs is different, at least subconsciously (M in KM and S in SM). Management of knowledge puts the focus on the technology tools used to *manage* something that we pretend to know the definition of. Management implies control. It is the social aspect of the new media that is rapidly and uncontrollably growing, subsuming the information/knowledge organization, sharing to relevant groups, searchability and so on.
Offhand I don’t know if millenia of philosophy has covered this ground but it seems to me that what is considered as knowledge changes with people–both as individuals and as communities. A trivial example is of advanced countries trying to patent what they believe to be discoveries or inventions but which millions of illiterate great grandmothers already know, practise and freely share across generations (e.g. neem, turmeric). So when we have enabling tools and newer uses of the network bringing an explosion of real-time communication across virtual communities, the social aspect becomes the determining factor, media-shmedia be damned.
So KM is close to achieving its nirvana by becoming a use case of SM.
The generational filter is an interesting but slightly contrived perspective but I would not argue against it as much as I would state that, as a rule, it is difficult for any generation to accept the novelty value and benefits of the next generation.
[...] Der eine oder andere bezeichnet die Beziehung beider als den „KM-SM-War“. Dabei werden die Kommunikations- und Generationsunterschiede („The uber-cause of this war is that Knowledge Management was conceived as a top-down Boomer (born 1946 – 62) management effort, created by this generation just as it was moving into leadership positions. Social Media, on the other hand, is a Millenial/Gen Y (born 1980 -) movement.“) Bei den Generationenunterschieden, auf die man sein Augenmerk richtet, gilt die These, dass unterschiedliche Ideen, Werte und Einstellungen vertreten werden. (vgl.: Rao, V. (2008): http://enterprise2blog.com/2008/09/social-media-vs-knowledge-management-a-generational-war/) [...]
[...] ist der von Venkatesh Rao veröffentlichte Beitrag unter enterprise2blog.com. In seinem Beitrag beschreibt Venkatesh Rao Social Media und Knowledge Management als Bestandteil [...]
[...] Sorry, Klaus aber das ist kein Wissensmanagement! “Knowledge Management and Social Media look very similar on the surface, but are actually radically different at multiple levels, both cultural and technical, and are locked in an undeclared cultural war for the soul of Enterprise 2.0.“ [Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War.] [...]
[...] Rob and his work on the interplay of demographics, generational effects and 2.0 technologies (in my SM vs. KM post, and in my review of Rob’s previous book, co-authored with Dan Rasmus). This is easily his [...]
thank you so much for article
Really awesome blog post.
At first when I read this blog, I found it quite seductive. However, on reflection I can’t agree with the simplistic professional and cultural assumptions. The whole notion of the Baby Boomer, for instance, is one that is located in a specifically western developmental paradigm – the use of computers and the web has followed a distinctive trajectory in other countries and continues to unfold with a specifically local flavour depending on the environment – familiar western demographics are not universal.
As others have mentioned, I know numerous older knowledge workers who find themselves entirely at home with new paradigms in Social Media, just as much as there are younger professionals with a bent for top-down knowledge control. If the sentiments in this blog reflected reality, marketing would be simpler – we could just pursue everyone simply based on generation.
The history of the internet as much as any other unfolding of events, past or present, is not so easy to characterise or periodise – people are complex, their mass behaviour is complex – otherwise, why would we need to get a grip on knowledge in the first place.
[...] tweet chat emphasized this tension: Corporate Social Media vs. Intranets. The implication is that social media and knowledge management are at odds and one is destined to be the solitary [...]
[...] of course it is not just us. Thanks to Troy Bronsik for pointing me to this great article, Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War, on how the generations are finding tension in the technological world as the Millennials moves [...]
[...] Venkatesh Rao has a good critique of KM, from a generational perspective, and how it is so different in approach from social media. I think we need some form of “social KM”; a way to facilitate social learning, improve knowledge-sharing and overall enable collaboration and innovation. I don’t think that exists yet, though many are experimenting with frameworks like Social Business or Enterprise 2.0. [...]
SM is just the small but important “Social Sharing in KM.” There is not a single view of KM. The problem has always been how to handle “fundamentalist” with only one view: IT, Human Capital, Strategy, Board of Directors, etc. You’re only mentioning KM in the context of IT. That’s what killed what it will have to come back again.
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