Knowledge is Everything

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Wow, I must say that I have jumped into social media head first this semester! Along with this course, I have Internet and American Life, which approaches social media from a research perspective, based on research conducted by Pew Research. As a marketing major, I think I made a great decision taking both courses. I would not have sought out all of this information on my own, however, I find it more interesting everyday (too much sucking up?) 🙂

One topic, or concept, that I found existed in each case has to do with increased innovation in a knowledge sharing environment. In all the cases we read, or heard, technology growth quickened as collaboration, and the sharing of information, became easier.

Michael_Polanyi

Michael Polanyi, economist and author

The material reminded me of  The Republic of Science, by the economist Michael Polanyi, which I read in the course Business and Society. The portion that popped in my head follows:

“A group of women shelling peas work at the same task, but their individual efforts are not co-ordinated. The same is true of a team of chess players. This is shown by the fact that the total amount of peas shelled and the total number of games won will not be affected if the members of the group are isolated from each other.

Consider by contrast the effect which a complete isolation of scientists would have on the progress of science. Each scientist would go on for a while developing problems derived from the information initially available to all. But these problems would soon be exhausted, and in the absence of further information about the results achieved by others, new problems of any value would cease to arise, and scientific progress would come to a standstill.”

Polanyi states that information should be shared, openly. He encourages the scientific and academic professionals to network with one another because, otherwise, they will all be “discovering” the same thing, at the same time. No great innovations will occur.

The inventors discussed in “Internet Underground” began their projects to improve collaboration for the sake of sharing information and advancing innovations in computer science and academia. Each saw a flaw in the current method or protocol that was stunting further growth and knowledge.

Tim Berners-Lee found that information was unable to be shared, due to all makes of computers speaking different languages. This sparked the idea that created our current protocol language. This was a huge milestone towards the Internet we all know because it opened the door for communication and, therefore, the exchange of knowledge.

Linus Torvalds began his project when Andrew Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX, refused to share his knowledge. With collaborating partners, Torvalds created Linux, which ended up being superior to MINIX. An extra kick in Tanenbaum’s face was when Torvalds decided to make Linux open source, meaning it was free to all. This innovation allowed everyone to enjoy their own internet server, pushing the Internet Revolution over the edge.

A second thought that came to mind is that each invention would not have been as impressive had it not been for others participating and spreading the innovation. These inventions, or situation in the case of the stolen phone, needed people to succeed. The telegraph, for example, was not the technological advancement of the century until more and more lines were added.

Some of you may remember when text messaging first appeared. If you were the only one of your friends with text message capabilities on your phone, how valuable was the service? How would you even use the service if no one you knew had it? It wasn’t until more and more friends jumped on the text train that it became the popular mode of communication that it is today.tin-can-telephone

In the reading It Takes A Village, Evan, in his pursuit for justice, needed his personal network to pass information to their network, who passed the information to their network, and so on. This is what started the movement that, eventually, returned Ivana’s phone and punished the wrong doers. What began as a single person, easily became millions because they all joined in something they believed in.

A third thought that kept popping into my head is that knowledge is power. In several management courses I’ve taken, we discuss the concept of power. Who has it, how did they get it, etc.? An example that is always given is that the IT department, in any company, has an enormous amount of power. This is because they control information and information is always a company’s greatest asset.

Starting with the telegraph, as soon as the technology was obviously taking off, the railroad company wanted to make sure they would be entitled to some of the power. Linux was invented because someone else refused to relinquish power. The NSA fought Whitfield Diffie because they would lose power. Ivana’s phone was returned because the power, from the massive number of people involved, forced the police to take action.

I learned quite a bit about the history of the telegraph and the Internet this week. Thanks to all of the innovators we learned about, I was able to complete this assignment from the comfort of my home, in my pajamas. 🙂

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11 responses »

  1. I really like what you said about an individualist approach compared to everyone working together. It is true that if people are able to work with others they can “bounce” ideas off one another and really make a difference. The women shelling peas analogy was very good as well

  2. very interesting post. I like your comment on working in your pajamas. We have come so far in 150 years. And can not imagine was it will be like 150 from now. Our advance technology will look like smoke signals to them.

  3. Knowledge sharing is definitely an important part of innovation. What I find funny is that it is also one of the things that makes your post and others like it more interesting than some(including my own). The view you have because of prior knowledge from other classes has given your post a fresh perspective. Also liked your last paragraph on power. I think you did an excellent job, and I also love the little bits of humor you find a way to slip in there. 🙂

  4. Very diverse post. I love how you used information from previous classes and there are more ideas to be shared verses isolation. Even at my place of employment, i shell out random phrases and bits of humor that if one of the directors are walking by they pick up on it and create an idea for a more pleasant and working atmosphere. Knowledge is power. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wonderful post! I really like the idea that knowledge is power. It’s so true. The more you know, the more capable you are of resolving any issue. I found this super informative and fun to read.

  6. Great post! Very nice correlation with your Business and Society course material! The tie back with the beginning of text messaging was a great reminder to how things were in our society. I remember getting my first cell phone in high school and having a data plan of 50 texts per month. I looked at my bill for last month and I have topped over 7000! This goes to show how technology has truly expanded beyond what most probably thought possible. However, is that a good thing or is it alleviating true communication and ruining the old fashioned letter writing and in person conversations? You are absolutely correct in your statement about IT departments within companies. They have the ability to track so much more information than most of us will ever know. Again great post! I look forward to reading more.

  7. Very good post! Good job using other examples to tie your ideas together and also using knowledge from other classes that you have taken. Also, I like that you say that knowledge is power because that is so true.

  8. It is scary how much power and information an IT department has in a company. The scarier thing is that who is watching them to make sure that they are using it in properly? Just think what the IT department could do at a bank if they had the mind to, it could be devastating!

  9. The power an IT department has makes me think of the movie Office Space, one of my favorite comedies. I would link to my favorite scene (murder of the copy machine) but it’s a little violent so I’ll let you seek it out if you want to watch it. 🙂

  10. The IT department example that you used is a great example! Many of the upper-level executives most likely only know the bare basics when it comes to operating their computers, let alone the more complex things like servers and internet security that their IT department has to deal with. The amount of power that the average IT department has really is incredible when you think about it.

  11. Interesting that you bring up scientists working alone rather than working in tandem.

    Modern theorists have argued that the enlightenment could not have happened without the scientific academy agreeing to publish their work (publicly!) so that others could recreate their work and prove (or disprove) findings.

    Up until the 18th century, science was a solitary, amateur pursuit of either artists or the idle-rich. Galileo comes to mind. He invented things, some shared, and some hidden by codes and cyphers.

    Think how rapidly scientific advancements accelerated after it became commonplace for inventors to share and publish their work.

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