analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Contact Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

6 December 2000 Wednesday






Supposedly the biggest and most comprehensive information event this year, Online Information 2000 in Olympia was populated by all sorts of new companies I've never heard before. This really elevates the traditional librarian to new dimensions: the knowledge worker, the information architect, etc.

One of the magazines I picked up from this show contained some interesting perspectives. On the psychology of transactions, "consistent evidence is that knowledge is shared among functional specialists in disparate organisations, and involves explicit trading in attributable ideas. Individuals in specialist fields retain complex relationships of knowledge attribution." Now, why can't it read be simply "we know that people in different companies share knowledge."

It goes on to say, more interestingly, "People will only share with those whom they respect and from whom they expect a return or who share the same problem of preserving or reinventing identity." Actually, people will share knowledge if they know it would be reciprocated some time in the future, i.e. when they need the information.

"The explicit psychology of these transactions involves recognition (they are asking me this question); respect (they think I know something they don't); attribution (you can use it as long as you say where you got it from); credit (I will answer on the implicit understanding that you will give me an equivalent transaction in the future); and shared perception of value (we both know this knowledge has real potential value if exploited)."

This last paragraph was most valuable. Interestingly, I just take it for granted. In academia, sharing knowledge is the norm. Only by sharing knowledge will you progress. In business, knowledge is power - so I can understand if people want to hoard it. In my field, you exchange knowledge for exactly the reasons given in the last paragraph.

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