Communities of Practice, Social Networks & Knowledge Networks: Get in the Game!

Joel Alleyne, whom we haven’t heard from in a while here at Slaw (busy man!), was the moderator at the Ark Conference I participated in last week. The conference had the unwieldy but search-engine friendly title Best Practices & Management Strategies for Legal Library & Information Service Centers. I heard Joel speak a few years back to the Toronto Association of Law Libraries on Communities of Practice so I was quite surprised at how much the discussion has changed. In a Web 2.0 world, social media has made it even easier for communities to come together.

Without giving away his WHOLE presentation, here are some of the notes I took during his talk:

  • communities of practice can be any kind of group that comes together with a common interest. Our lawyers can be joining together in a lot more groups than is represented by the official practice groups.
  • there are other types of communities besides communities of practice. He especially thought “communities of purpose” and “communities of passion” to be compelling.
  • communities of practice tend to cross traditional organizational boundaries. As librarians, we need to “amplify and support” the informal learning inside our organizations that comes about as a result of these groups.
  • one way to do this is to help bring stakeholder groups together (lawyers, professionals, staff).
  • the challenge is how to support groups whose members exist in different places, or work at different times (or both).
  • the various forms of knowledge media (blogs, wikis, discussion forums, social networks, deal rooms, listservs and the like) are changing the way we create our communities, our networks, and allowing us to cut across social groups. In the past we would mostly communicate with those people in our school year, our stage in life, etc. Now people of all ages are communicating with one another. These tools are expanding how many people we can “manage” within our networks.
  • “boundary spanning” – a concept from Derrick de Kerckhove, and the idea of “connected intelligence” – are we “bumble bees” cross-pollenating ideas between groups? Librarians have the ability to walk in and out of a number of groups and pass ideas between them. [Connie’s note: I would say that certainly describes me!]
  • Linux is thriving and is able to compete against Microsoft because of both community and leadership. The community drives the ideas and innovation forward, and Linux acts as the final decision-maker to the open source community.
  • people don’t share knowledge, they trade knowledge. If you want to learn something, you have to give something back. If you give out knowledge without getting some knowledge in return, after a while you are going to stop giving out that knowledge. It has to be of mutual benefit.
  • within your firm, you want to become the hub. As a firm, you want to be a hub.
  • you need to find ways of not just linking documents, but hyperlinking the experts.
  • Where is this heading? We are coming to social network analysis: InterAction (from LexisNexis) is a CRM software that is trying to map social interaction between firms and clients; Tacit mines email messages of an organization to determine social networks; Contact Networks does “relationship search for the enterprise”.

He also recommends these books:

These are just my notes, and do not include the overall content from his slides. If you are interested in his full presentation, I suggest booking Joel Alleyne directly for a talk.

His opening and closing words to the group:

Get in the game, play the game, or sit in the stands.”

Comments are closed.