Dave Pollard had an interesting piece on Knowledge in the Workplace: Have It Your Way:
I'm trying to understand why social networking applications (and to some extent online research) are still not getting much mainstream traction in organizations. The vast majority of SNA use, it seems, is for personal purposes, or by technology geeks. Meanwhile, researchers and buyers of external databases continue to lament the underutilization of their skills and resources.
[via Dennis Kennedy]
Pollard has been thinking about these issues for years and always does a great job of explaining his thinking. Note that his use of "SNA" is not for social network analysis, it's "social network application." Things like Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and wikis and related tools that allow for social connections amongst people online.
This article focuses on the idea that people feel deeply connected to the things they create and use on a regular basis, whether it is their website or their mobile phone or their email. Even if it isn't really "theirs," they operate as if it is. And that is the key problem: people who own the content can filter and post and arrange the way they wish. But the people receiving the content do not have nearly as much flexibility on doing what they would like with the content. Sure, you can read blogs in your aggregator, but it is cumbersome to recombine and filter and group things together in ways that make sense for the reader. For example, I'd like to read Dave Pollard's blog in a way that is not easily done: I want only the articles that are related to (my definition of) knowledge management.
In relation to this idea of technology-as-bodily-extension, Pollard references a Marshal McLuhan quote. It turns out it's a reference to something Emerson said back in 1870, according to a McLuhan website:
On media and technologies as Extensions of Man (subtitle of Understanding Media)
It was R. W. Emerson who wrote that "The human body is the magazine of inventions, the patent-office, where are the models from which every hint was taken. All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses" (1870).
On reading through the article again, I can't help but think of the classic Apple's "Futureshock" Knowledge Navigator video from 1987. Content processed the way I want to process it and when.