Niel Van Meeuwen Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company

Niel Van Meeuwen
Social Media user as Knowledge Worker

User contributions become more useful and powerful according the increase of strong collaboration. The total is more than the sum of the different parts. This form of ‘wisdom of the crowds’ works based on the principles of social constructivism. The quality enhances by additions and improvements by other users. It is this principle that the constructors of social software understood well. Applications as Delicious, Flickr and are in a continuous state of improvement by the feedback of their users, the so called ‘perpetual beta’. The feedback enhances a maximal usability of the applications. The ability of self-improvement is even a necessary condition for the survival of the software. Intelligent web services make users able to obtain an active role like creation, publication, editing, rating, tagging and distributing knowledge. Users are required to act as knowledge workers. Imagine what this would be if also offline organizations could make this possible.

Social media has an enormous impact on the way we work together in networks. Decentralised ‘bottom-up’-initiatives are relatively easy to set up. Thanks to the easy exchange of information, combined with mobile technology, a powerful instrument arises for the organisation and coordination within and between groups. These possibilities were widely adapted by the young generation in their social networks (the so called Homo Zappiens). They communicate in large amount by instant-messaging, they download music via peer-to-peer networks and share their photos online.

Web 2.0 not only brought us better technology, it also evokes a transition in culture. The thought ‘knowledge is power’ belongs to the past. The new power lies in the sharing of knowledge and the access of information. By now it is already clear this effect is not limited to the youngest generation. Web 2.0 transforms online collaboration to a source of collective intelligence having a lot of potential for knowledge workers in solving problems and facilitating innovation. This phenomenon is called ‘crowdsourcing’, where a big and diverse group of people is engaged through the internet in order to solve organizational problems and dilemmas. In doing that, sharing information, networking and transparency are essential ingredients. And it is just that which has a unlimited possible value for offline organizations.

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Name: Niel

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Bio: Social Media, Knowledge Work, Learning and Development, Organization 2.0, Appreciative Inquiry, Creative Designer, Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company