Knowledge Communication with Shared Databases

Knowledge Communication with Shared Databases

Joachim Kimmerle (University of Tuebingen, Germany) and Ulrike Cress (Knowledge Media Research Center, Germany)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch032
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Abstract

Addressing knowledge communication with shared databases, this chapter focuses on an asynchronous, many-to-many type of computer-mediated communication (CMC). After an introduction, which characterizes this kind of CMC and provides definitions, various aspects are discussed that influence people’s behavior in knowledge communication with shared databases. This presentation focuses on psychological rather than on technological factors. The first aspect presented is the influence of anonymity and identifiability, followed by the impact of metaknowledge. Next, costs and bonus systems, and then feedback and guidelines are discussed. Other aspects which are considered are group size and participant personality. For each of these influencing factors, underlying theoretical approaches as well as empirical results are presented. Subsequently, these considerations and findings are examined with respect to their practical applications. In conclusion, future trends in database-oriented knowledge communication are discussed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Metaknowledge: Metaknowledge is knowledge about knowledge. Besides knowledge about acquisition of knowledge, its origin, applicability, and dependability, metaknowledge refers also to knowledge about what others know, about which information others need, and about how one’s own knowledge can be utilized accordingly. A group that knows how to use this metaknowledge can establish a transactive memory.

Group Awareness: A concept that refers to information which group members obtain about the other group members, about current group processes, and about mutually employed objects with the goal of carrying out a certain task efficiently. Tools enabling group awareness can be applied in order to alleviate the information-exchange dilemma.

Anonymity vs. Identifiability: In CMC research it is important to distinguish anonymity from identifiability. Anonymity refers to visual anonymity of other group members, that is, potential recipients are anonymous to a sender. By contrast, identifiability refers to the recognizability of a sender’s communicative behavior from the recipients’ perspective.

Knowledge Communication with Shared Databases: Shared databases are used for knowledge exchange in working groups with the goal of creating a knowledge pool to which all people have access. A shared database allows every team member to enter information into it as well as to retrieve information from it. So, with shared databases, knowledge which was originally distributed across team members can be exchanged reciprocally and can be made accessible for all team members.

Metaknowledge: Metaknowledge is knowledge about knowledge. Besides knowledge about acquisition of knowledge, its origin, applicability, and dependability, metaknowledge refers also to knowledge about what others know, about which information others need, and about how one’s own knowledge can be utilized accordingly. A group that knows how to use this metaknowledge can establish a transactive memory.

Many-to-Many Communication: In one-to-one communication only one individual communicates with another. One-to-many communication refers to a communicative act in which only one special person is entitled to be the sender and is allowed to publish information. In many-to-many communication, however, each participating person can post messages and each person can receive messages. Consequently, a sender does not know who the recipients are (high anonymity) and the recipients do not know who the sender of a message is (low identifiability). This is completely different from one-to-one or from one-to-many communication situations in which participants’ behavior can be clearly identified.

Group Awareness: A concept that refers to information which group members obtain about the other group members, about current group processes, and about mutually employed objects with the goal of carrying out a certain task efficiently. Tools enabling group awareness can be applied in order to alleviate the information-exchange dilemma.

Many-to-Many Communication: In one-to-one communication only one individual communicates with another. One-to-many communication refers to a communicative act in which only one special person is entitled to be the sender and is allowed to publish information. In many-to-many communication, however, each participating person can post messages and each person can receive messages. Consequently, a sender does not know who the recipients are (high anonymity) and the recipients do not know who the sender of a message is (low identifiability). This is completely different from one-to-one or from one-to-many communication situations in which participants’ behavior can be clearly identified.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Communication: In the case of asynchronous CMC, the moment in which a sender posts a message differs from the moment in which the recipient receives the message: for example, if a message is expressed in the form of an entry to an online forum but is read by another user at a later date. By contrast, in synchronous CMC, users’ contributions are not buffered but transmitted directly. This is the case, for example, with online chats.

Information-Exchange Dilemma: Knowledge communication with shared databases can be examined in terms of cost-benefit analysis. Contributing information to a shared database requires time and effort. Consequently, individuals save these costs if they do not contribute information. Therefore, knowledge communication with shared databases can be considered a social dilemma. A social dilemma is a situation where individual group members benefit from not being cooperative. However, if all people involved behaved uncooperatively by withholding their knowledge, then the outcome for the whole group would be poorer than if everybody had been cooperative in the first place.

Knowledge Communication with Shared Databases: Shared databases are used for knowledge exchange in working groups with the goal of creating a knowledge pool to which all people have access. A shared database allows every team member to enter information into it as well as to retrieve information from it. So, with shared databases, knowledge which was originally distributed across team members can be exchanged reciprocally and can be made accessible for all team members.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Communication: In the case of asynchronous CMC, the moment in which a sender posts a message differs from the moment in which the recipient receives the message: for example, if a message is expressed in the form of an entry to an online forum but is read by another user at a later date. By contrast, in synchronous CMC, users’ contributions are not buffered but transmitted directly. This is the case, for example, with online chats.

Information-Exchange Dilemma: Knowledge communication with shared databases can be examined in terms of cost-benefit analysis. Contributing information to a shared database requires time and effort. Consequently, individuals save these costs if they do not contribute information. Therefore, knowledge communication with shared databases can be considered a social dilemma. A social dilemma is a situation where individual group members benefit from not being cooperative. However, if all people involved behaved uncooperatively by withholding their knowledge, then the outcome for the whole group would be poorer than if everybody had been cooperative in the first place.

Anonymity vs. Identifiability: In CMC research it is important to distinguish anonymity from identifiability. Anonymity refers to visual anonymity of other group members, that is, potential recipients are anonymous to a sender. By contrast, identifiability refers to the recognizability of a sender’s communicative behavior from the recipients’ perspective.

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