Clay Shirky – learn from stories and not lists of best practices

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David Wilcox over at Socialreporter has managed to grab a few minutes of air time from Clay Shirky – author of Here Comes Everybody – at the Online Information 2008 event.  David asked Clay what would be the best way to investigate how Web 2.0 technologies bring real change? Clay suggested that the best way to find what works might be to look at what hasn’t … and go for stories rather than lists of “best practices”.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrQzwRuvyLY&w=425&h=344]There’s an interesting paradigm here that needs to be applied to traditional knowledge management techniques. A storytelling approach is a far more engaging way of learning than trawling through the standard knowledge repositories of best practice, good practice and case studies. Whenever I encounter a website with a ‘knowledge library’, I know what to expect – ranks of similar looking text-filled templates with enumerated lists of do’s and don’ts. How much better to have a rich multimedia narrative, and is it not true that we tend to remember the things that didn’t work better then the things that did? Hearing about the mistakes that others have made is a powerful learning process.  Reading volumes of success stories is tedium personified.It’s about time the millions of knowledge repositories hauled themselves into the 21st century and started to think about how to keep knowledge fresh and dynamic and not just a catalogue of increasingly irrelevant case studies. The traditional ‘knowledge repository’, managed, maintained and protected by Librarians, is a place where knowledge goes to die and is becoming increasingly irrelevant in a fast changing world. We have the (Web 2.0) tools to keep knowledge fresh, relevant and engaging. Let’s use them to redesign and rethink what a ‘knowledge repository’ or ‘knowledge library’ should look like.

About Post Author

Stephen Dale

I’m a life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity about life. I love travel, good food, and good company. I’m happy to share what I know with others….even the interesting stuff! My outlook on life is pretty well captured in this quote from a book about the legend of King Arthur: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King So much to learn, so little time!
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