On one hand, we are all overwhelmed by information: Another website, another announcement, another newsletter, another piece of information congests the mail-inbox everyday. Unfortunately it is difficult to differentiate between important and not so important information. On the other hand, the important tiny piece of information that allows us to perform the project task successfully is often missing.
Knowledge exchange is a very demanding process where the individual plays the major role and where knowledge sharing and participation are worshipped. Unfortunately, the conditions for knowledge exchange in our dynamic environment are not always the best: Short innovation cycles, globally acting teams, economic pressure, and short commitment periods of employees make knowledge exchange very difficult.
A prerequisite for knowledge exchange is that there is somebody who wants to know something and somebody who wants to tell. Secondly, the quality of content needs to have a certain standard in order to compensate for the lack of time in the process of knowledge exchange.
But what is knowledge? At university I learned “knowledge in action = information”, this means, that knowledge is a combination of experiences, learned facts and abilities, which people use to solve a problem. Thus information always needs a context. Wether content in books, papers, websites or other media, only then does it become information if it is used for solving a problem. Otherwise it is just data.
And when is such a knowledge exchange or information transfer succesful?
Imagine someone who loves to play computer games. She/He does not get the information from the game documentation, instead the person will chat and e-mail with other players and she or he will ask questions for very specific situations, such as when the next level cannot be reached. It is not unusual that the players are spread all over the world and that somebody from Australia talks to somebody from Iceland. Usually, the players do not know each other and they cannot talk in their native language. The reason, why they find a solution together is because the questioner wants to know and the experienced players want to tell.
Because of the computer playing experience the player knows exactly what kind of information is missing and she/he knows how to ask. The answerer answers in a way that the answer is understood by the questioner. Both have a common knowledge base and know how to communicate with each other because they use the same jargon and the exchange of knowledge is very efficient, because they keep communication to a minimum. Non-computer players wouldn’t even be able to pose a question nor understand the answer.
This is what the SCN is all about: Bringing experts together, helping beginners and making each other the daily life more successful – in short: exchanging knowledge collaboratively. By doing this we all create a living pool of expertise, which means quality is easy to check. If the community agrees the content is good, if not it is not good.
By using the forums at SCN everybody can ask another expert from around the world and gets an answer. And by providing articles and blogs about more complicated topics the data in such articles and blogs transform into information.