Principles of a Knowledge Leveraging Community Infrastructure

Community implies a common interest and it is the pursuit of this common interest that the knowledge-leveraging infrastructure must support. Whether the common interest is to deal with a situation, avoid something, maintain something, or accomplish something, the common interest serves as the basis for the purpose and vision of the community.

A community, however, does not exist in isolation and is part of a larger body or system. The system is made up of the community and those with whom the community interacts. These participants in the system may be temporary or ongoing and are defined as follows:

The following diagram depicts the flow of interactions within the system. Note that there are no half-loops; every participant is able to interact with every other participant. The participants interact with each other and with the leveragable body of knowledge through various forms of input, and receive feedback produced by each of the other participants and by the system.

Interaction Principles

The extent to which knowledge leveraging can occur within a community is dependent on the nature of the interactions within the community and within the larger system. Certain principles must be at the core of these interactions. These principles relate to the following aspects of knowledge leveraging.

Supporting Technologies

As stated, no single technology exists which will facilitate all the interactions required for a community to develop, maintain and evolve a leveragable body of knowledge. It is believed that there are sufficient technology components available, which, when integrated, will produce an infrastructure that will support the community in the manner described.

Because there are multiple types of interactions with differing intended contributions, it seems best to describe the technologies from the perspective of the interactions they must support. In this manner it should then be possible to evaluate a technology based on its capacity to enable and deliver value to the interaction it is supposed to support.

The following provides some perspectives on particular technology components and their role in the infrastructure.

The Leveragable Body of Knowledge

The leveragable body of knowledge is all the knowledge available to the community via all participants in the system. The repository for "captured" knowledge, the knowledgebase, must provide feedback in support of its own continued development and evolution. It must also support the following types of interactions from each of the participants within the system.

Note that from a composite sense, feedback serves to establish the community members' perceived value of the interactions by the facilitators and external contributors. The infrastructure should also support the community members' qualitative evaluation of facilitators and external contributors via blind survey. The idea is to balance direct and indirect feedback about the value of interactions.

Facilitating Distributed Interaction

It is assumed that, for the most part, the members of the community will be distributed worldwide. There may be small, co-located groups of community members, yet this will be the exception rather than the rule. In addition to being geographically distributed, it is expected that individual community members will have different preferences as to when and how to interact. Therefore, it is essential that the infrastructure facilitate the interaction dynamics in such a way as to accommodate the time and space differentials of community members.

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Copyright © 2004 Gene Bellinger