KMbeing

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Inclusive Knowledge Bridging the Types, Uses, and Places of Knowledge

Reviewing some of my Delicious bookmarks, I re-read Waiting for the Social Semantic Web. What struck me again is a statement about the distinction between Web 2.0 (also known as the contemporary web) and Web 3.0 – the so-called semantic web. As we gather information by bookmarking and tagging we are linking various topics with various contexts – creating links to assist us in easier tracking and referral. But we are also contributing to the future of intelligent machines. The great divide between humans and thinking machines appears to be getting smaller with every tag that links information in a more digital way. Supposedly, the Semantic Web will make information stored on the Internet even more readily accessible not only to humans but to intelligent machines in a more meaningful way.

But how do we define intelligence and what is meant by meaningful? Meaningful is a slippery word that should not be confused with meaning.

Meaning has a definitional element, a descriptor for an object. Meaningful has a subjective element that is personalized with each individual. As we all know, what is meaningful to one person may not be meaningful to another. So can intelligent machines have meaningful knowledge?

Before answering that,  it’s necessary to first understand what is meant by knowledge. There are many forms of knowledge: academic, expertise or skill, theoretical or practical, awareness or basic understanding. Further types of knowledge include communicating (style) knowledge, situated knowledge, partial knowledge, scientific knowledge and symbolic knowledge. Yet, even the very definition of knowledge continues to be debated.

There are also two uses of knowledge: instrumental (the practical application of knowledge as a means or agency), and conceptual (the thoughtful, reflective process). How knowledge is used is also dependent upon context.

Is knowledge strictly something academic (objective) and found in the ivory towers of university or formal institutions of the world, or is knowledge something that every person (subjective) in the community has to share? This is at the heart of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) where definitional knowledge is now being enmeshed with meaningful knowledge. Knowledge Mobilization is now connecting definitial knowledge with meaningful knowledge by connecting research and researchers with community organizations and individuals – listening to their voices while also providing information with a more social, collaborative approach to knowledge.

Now back to the semantic machines…

Like those intelligent machines, KMb is creating links to bridge the great, historical divides between types of knowledge, the use of knowledge, and the places of knowledge – in order to contribute to the greater benefit of society.

While the Semantic Web is advancing slowly – also being formed based on the linking of all types, uses, and places of knowledge – these three elements of knowledge are already being combined in Knowledge Mobilization. It’s through KMb that meaningful knowledge is being created by including, listening to, learning from, and linking all aspects of knowledge.

Intelligent machines may not actually be capable of creating meaningful knowledge, but using social media and the Internet for Knowledge Mobilization is a key way of contributing meaningful knowledge to the machines – and more importantly to the greater benefit of humans in society.

A Comparison Of Knowledge Broker Websites

I am very pleased to have been a guest blogger for ResearchImpactCanada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network. You can follow ResearchImpact on their blog Mobilize This! and on twitter (@researchimpact). This is a reposting of that blog, and I’d like to thank ResearchImpact for asking me to be a guest blogger for MobilizeThis!

I wrote about three relatively new online resources for knowledge brokers, and along with ResearchImpact, I am also glad to see new entrants into the KMb global family (from UK, US and Australia). My comparison shows that all provide value for knowledge brokers and that Research into Action (from @KTExchange) has some resources similar to those offered by ResearchImpact (where they are also “turning research into action”).

Most readers of the Mobilize This! blog (and for readers of my own KMbeing blog) will know that Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is being more frequently used to describe how researchers and individuals within community organizations are using research to inform decisions in public policy and professional practice. KMb consists of a variety of methods in which research and knowledge is transferred, translated, exchanged and co-produced to enhance the practical application of knowledge between researchers and research-users.
Important to the KMb process is the role of the Knowledge Broker in linking researchers and community (for more information on the role of the Knowledge Broker see Jonathan Lomas The in-between world of knowledge brokering).
As part of a current digital research project for ResearchImpact, I did a comparative analysis of three new (or newly re-designed) broker websites with varying degrees of interactivity and collaboration. I was curious to see what some other organizations are offering brokers, social innovators and other knowledge mobilizers. After a web search using the keyword knowledge broker the following top websites were listed:

Research into Action (RIA)

Knowledge Brokers’ Forum (KBF)

Australian Social Innovation eXchange (ASIX)

Overall Rating (RIA):

• Excellent Presentation & Content
• Great Use of Social Media & Networking Tools
• Canadian Content – A Podcast interview with Dr. Melanie Barwick (Sick Kid’s Hospital, Toronto) & Headlining Quote From Dr. Barwick on Home Page/ CIHR defined in website Glossary page.  RIA also has podcasts from Drs. Nancy Edwards and Anita Kothari, both CIHR researchers; and a very entertaining podcast from Jonathan Lomas of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation.
• Well Staffed With Two Specific Communications Specialists
• Collaboration Possibilities with other Research Brokers

Overall Rating (KBF):

• Most Similar to ResearchImpact Website
• Good Content of Blogs
• Use of Delicious Bookmarks
• Resources (articles) for intermediaries and knowledge brokers
• Canadian Content – Canadian Knowledge Broker Core Competency Framework Link
• Recommend Adding ResearchImpact Mobilize This! Blog To This Website

Overall Rating (ASIX):

• More Social Innovation Than KMb or Knowledge Brokering (Collaborative Style Think Tank)
• Good Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) & OK Use of Blog Links (But Not KMb Specific)
• Website Not KMb Focused or Broker Focused, but still informative
• Mostly A Forum for Australian Social Innovation Camp (New: 1st Camp 2010)
• No North American Content (Only Found One Profile Beyond Australia from London UK)

Funding & Affiliation:

I would like to thank Research into Action’s Rick Austin who commented on my guest blog for ResearchImpact and pointed out that I incorrectly attributed funding for RIA from The University of Texas School of Public Health, and from Institute for Health Policy.

Rick kindly informed me that RIF is actually funded by a grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation. My apologies for my mistake. What is also interesting is that they request donation funding right on their website for anyone wishing to make a private donation. RIA was founded in 2007.

The Knowledge Brokers’ Forum receives funding from international agencies such as the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The website does not mention when KBF was founded.

The Australian Social Innovation eXchange is more formally known as the Australian Social Innovation Exchange Limited incorporated and is an independent non-profit company, founded in 2008.

Conclusion:
All three websites can be used as credible links and sources of information for knowledge brokers; however, I highly recommend Research into Action for anyone looking for a practical website that can be used as a tool in learning more about current knowledge brokering taking place, and as a collaborative website for researchers and research users to post their own information.
Although Research into Action appears to be a closer fit to ResearchImpact, The Knowledge Brokers’ Forum or The Australian Social Innovation eXchange are also great sites for gaining information and mobilizing knowlege.