Put a fork in it, “Knowledge is power” is done

March 18, 2012

Last week the publisher of the Encyclopedia Britannica announced that it was ending the print version; the 2010 edition would be the last. While some commentators have celebrated this development on the grounds of value and utility, I was heartened for a different reason: it is another sign that the commodification of knowledge, embodied by Sir Francis Bacon in Religious Meditations, Of Heresies, “Knowledge is Power”, is dead.

From the late sixteenth century – when Bacon penned his famous quote – to the recent past, technology and practice limited sharing of knowledge. Knowledge was a commodity, owned and disseminated by a person or publisher. Authority derived from the control of access to information.

The social web has changed this by providing the tools to connect people, separated by geography and organizational structure, to share information and develop knowledge. Collective knowledge dwarfs that of individuals and is constantly expanding through network interaction. To access this knowledge you have to become an effective member of the network. As noted by Jarche,

“The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts, and knowing who to call becomes more important than having the right answer.”

It follows then that engaging on the social web – Twitter, Yammer, LinkedIn, Facebook and Communities of Practice – is integral to success in the work environment. The social web allows you to keep your expertise current and to contribute to the success of the network, through which the source of influence is the power to collaborate.

7 Responses to “Put a fork in it, “Knowledge is power” is done”

  1. dcjarvis Says:

    Interesting post. Have had similar thoughts myself, but the theory assumes that all actors in the network are, erm, active. And we know that’s not the case.

    Also, as the number and complexity of tools increases, there is still quite a lot of room for innovation by making things simpler in order to increase the level of valuable activity (versus posting funny cat pics etc).

    With the exception of the challenge of semantic web, this is probably the challenge for the next wave of comms/SM tools to tackle in order to drive adoption and activity further.


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  3. Reblogged this on red rabbit skills services | skills programme development and related services and commented:
    This is very interesting. Thanks. I do agree with this perspective.


  4. Thanks I do agree with this viewpoint. I have reblogged to my site.


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  6. Se Says:

    It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this post as
    well as from our dialogue made here.


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