Donnerstag, 14. April 2011


First of all, sorry to all who are offended by the word, I started off with „Knowrarchy“, so mind the tendency, some greekspeaking fellow might do better.
Same as for the word, applies to the thought: work in progress!
To me it was important to show the analogy to hierarchy, and emphasize the role of knowledge in the change.
My twitter definition (based very much on Wikipedia) of Hierarchy: org. structure based on authority deploying filter funct.

My twitter defintion of Knowarchy: super-org struct. based on knowledge & influence deploying semipermable filter.

If we look at the hierarchy definition it consists of 3 components: structure: the organization, the underlying mechanism: authority and and a functionality: filter – obviously that is a very poor definition, but done for the purpose of showing later on the difference.
Organization can be a company, institution or a sub-part of these. Charateristic of an organization is that it is relatively stable and created top-down. Top down is realized via authority, so it deploys a command relationship that is mandatory. Hierarchies – often neglected – serve purposes. Alignment, effectiveness of action and – here my point – filter function, reporting, communication is along the lines of command. Especially this filter function (you see the relation to the classic “There is no information overload – but only filter failure) was critized as to rigid and was simplified to the yell “Breaking down the silos!”
Observations to what is happening with the help of Social Media lead me to the need of another term: Knowarchy
My twitter definition of Knowarchy is along the lines of the hirarchy ones.
Knowcharchy is not based on organization structure, it might go beyond or across (therefore in a quick moment I thought it “super-org”). Facilitation of this happening are e.g. Twitter / Facebook / Linkedin or their corporate representatives (e.g. Yammer). Also there appear self-organizing structures, you might call the networks. These structures however are not mandatory to comply to, they are on-and-off (sometimes you need to put efforts into receiving access, but if you don’t want anymore, you just leave). Examples of these structures are followers / following or groups and communities, also #hashtages can be seen as these structures (e.g. using followme with Twitter. The mechanism in a Knowarchy is knowledge, influence, value creation, reputation (the mix of words here shows that this needs further discussion), certainly it is not power, but some resulting e.g. in the fact that I have 100 followers but others 100000. Reputation Mgmt (Ross Dawson) is part of the game here and supporting the thought: Why would you invest into something like Reputation Mgmt, what is the ROI? So the structure – along the line of hierarchies – is not flat. There are positions in a Knowarchy that people are more keen on than others. However these positions, non-flat structures are not as discrete as in an organizational structure (due to size and due to bottom-up organization). The building is bottom-up (in contrast to authority): we chose to follow, we chose to join a community. Finally the filter functionality is different to hierarchies, where the filter is limited access to knowledge.  In a Knowarchy in principle access to knowledge is free (the permeable part), the limiting factor is our capacity. In a world of abundance of knowledge (in a world that offer information overload), smart filter mechanism make the difference – in connectivism even a difference in the definition of knowledge – knowledge being your connections. One pronounced mechanism more flexible than the one of hierarchies is a folksonomy. You chose whom you are following (free). And you might be chosen – based on you knowledge, influence, value creation, reputation (limited).
Note: this post is work in progress and very much assoziative, written down very quickly - no pictures, no polish. I am happy to improve in a collaborative way.

Thanks for the great discussion on Twitter: @metaphorage, @rossdawson, @ithorpe 


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