Skillsoft Blog

Social Is Where Knowledge Goes to Thrive

By John Ambrose


In my keynote at the kickoff to SkillSoft’s Perspectives e learning conference, I described one of the key reasons that social technologies are so crucial in this new decade and why they are definitely not a “fad.”


Social technologies (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) provide a platform for collaboration, not merely a channel for collaboration.  The differences are stark.  MIT’s Andrew McAfee distinguishes the two very nicely in his book Enterprise 2.0.  


Channels for collaboration have been around for a long time.  The telephone – easy, convenient, personal; the conference call – groups of people talking together as a single synchronous event; email the greatest collaboration tool of the past quarter century; mobile phone texting and IM.  All are channels.


The problem with these technologies is that with few exceptions, they essentially keep communication private.  Hence, they are simply channels, or conduits, for the collaboration.  They suffocate the communication that occurs because they are not widely visible, consultable or searchable.  They leave no trace of the collaboration patterns.


An alternative to a Channel, is a Platform.  Platforms are collections of digital content where contributions are globally visible (anyone who is part of the community can see them) and persistent (they stick around….can be discovered, searched, or shared).  Access to platforms can be restricted, but the main goal of a platform is to make content permanently and widely available to the community it is serving.


That is why social learning will join formal and informal learning as the three key modalities in the next decade.  It has been said that “Email is where knowledge goes to die.”  In the next decade, we should be saying “Social is where knowledge goes to thrive.”


What do you think?



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