Recognizing that knowledge is a key asset for better performance and that knowledge is a human and social activity, building ecologies that foster knowledge networking and community building becomes crucial. Over the past few years, social software has become an important medium to connect people, bridge communities, and leverage collaborative knowledge creation and sharing. In this chapter we explore how social software can support the building and maintaining of knowledge ecologies and discuss the social landscape within different social software mediated communities and networks.
Peter Drucker, among others, argues that in the emerging economy, knowledge is the primary resource for individuals and for the economy overall; land, labour, and capital. He further argues that improving front-line worker productivity is the greatest challenge of the 21st century (Drucker, 1999). Knowledge management has become an important topic for the CSCW community within the last couple of years (Davenport and Prusak 1998). A specific contribution of CSCW to the knowledge management field has been to draw attention to the social aspect of knowledge. Within the CSCW community, some important research emphasises the social properties of knowledge and how it is shared among and between communities and networks (Wenger, 1998a; Engeström et al., 1999; Zager, 2002; Nardi et al., 2002; Stahl, 2005). Over the past few years, social software has become a crucial means to connect people not only to digital knowledge repositories but also to other people, in order to share knowledge and create new forms of social networks and communities. In this chapter, we explore how the emerging social software technologies can support collaborative knowledge creation and sharing and discuss the social landscape within different social software mediated communities and networks.