In response to our readings, the talk and workshop involving Raymond Siemens, the consummation of knowledge one can leave with is as described perfectly by Ann before me; knowledge is messy. It was wise that Ray initiated the worksop with this question to the group: What is knowledge? As also stated prior, the lectures featuring Siemens and Kathleen Fitzpatrick speak as to how knowledge has historically been made accessible via the authoritative governance. “Knowledge” is – according to the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia – “information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education.” For our purposes we’ll focus solely on experience and education as it pertains to ‘social knowledge creation’.
Despite what Nancy Fjällbrant writes regarding the origins of peer review, “the [scholarly] journal had significant ties with the concurrent birth of learned societies (i.e. the Royal Society of London and the Académie des Sciences in Paris),” the Devonshire Manuscript exhibits, as per Siemens’ work denotes, an earlier example of social knowledge creation. Another way to say this concept is ‘social knowledge production,’ which Ray declared as having “always been really messy.” Part of the reason why such developments are messy is because of this idea, “community of practice.” As described in the Toward Modeling the Social Edition: An Approach to Understanding the Electronic Scholarly Edition in the Context of New and Emerging Social Media article, a community of practice:
Refers to a group that forms around a particular interest, where individual members participate in collaborative activities of various kinds. Active involvement in the group is key; through this involvement, group members ‘develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems – in short a shared practice’
Creation and consensus on knowledge is not simple or perfect. However, the practice and symbolization of the book being the source of knowledge (essentially an extension of an exclusive authority), has influenced an often misconceived notion of physically published infallibility, at least until the next edition! which will repeat that declaration. It is this erroneously defended and long held tradition which castigates the potentiality of collaborative knowledge producing sites like Wikipedia.
I like that you say creation and consensus about knowledge. We talk about ways of knowing and ways of coming to know and ways of creating knowledge, but is it possible to have knowledge without some kind of consensus? For a shared practice, it seems that yes we do need some kind of consensus or cohesion of thought in order to arrive at a community. But it’s interesting to think about that as it relates to knowledge. With the rise of the digital and the turning of the system from top down to an all around dissemination of information, is everything knowledge? Or is it only that upon which a number of people can agree?