Knowledge Sharing Online: For Health Promotion and Community Education

Knowledge Sharing Online: For Health Promotion and Community Education

Hyunjung Kim (State University of New York at Buffalo, USA) and Michael A. Stefanone (State University of New York at Buffalo, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-735-5.ch015
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This chapter examines the contribution of information communication technology (ICT) to the operation of social and public policy. The governmentality analytic is introduced as a way in which to highlight how ICT is used by the state in governing populations. The chapter identifies four ways ICTs relate to social and public policy. First, social policy can be a response to ICT innovation and use. Second, ICT is used to implement and administer social policy. Third, ICT is used to develop and evaluate social policy. Fourth, the use of ICT can shape the very nature and substance of social policy. The chapter illustrates these theoretical and conceptual approaches by examining the extensive and innovative use of ICT in Australia’s national income security agency, Centrelink.The aim of this chapter is to explore the utility of online knowledge sharing for the health and human services. Experiences in marketing are used as a basis for the development of three broad and interrelated theoretical concepts—the diffusion of innovations, viral marketing, and online word of mouth advertising—as well as several other influential factors to explain online knowledge sharing. Three major elements that stimulate online knowledge sharing are distilled from these theoretical perspectives including internal factors such as altruism, online social network size, and topic salience. This chapter uses these elements to propose a model of e-Mavenism which explains the cognitive processes that lead to online knowledge sharing behavior. Based on the e-Mavenism model, several strategies are suggested for online health promotion and community education.
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Tzu Hungs: Is there one word which can serve as the guiding principle throughout life?

Confucius: It is the word altruism. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.

-- Confucius (K’ung Fu tzu 551-479 BC) replying to Tzu Hungs’s question in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2004, p.238:6).


Knowledge Sharing Online

Various types of online ICT tools facilitate knowledge sharing. Those most closely associated with knowledge sharing are interactive and often interpersonal media such as e-mail, blogs (weblogs), virtual communities, and online video sharing media. E-mail is the most frequently used online medium and has been evaluated as an interactive tool containing the most powerful potential for knowledge sharing online. For example, Fallows (2008) used national-level survey data (n = 2,251) to investigate Internet use and found that over 60 per cent of Internet users send and receive e-mail daily. It has been estimated that in the United States alone there are well over 100 million daily e-mail users. (Phelps, Lewis, Mobilio, Perry, & Raman, 2005) This is a testament to how active users are in terms of mediated interpersonal communication and highlights the extent to which people are sharing knowledge and information with each other online. E-mail lowers the costs associated with communication, allows people to share information with others in their social network and affords users the power to easily disseminate persuasive messages. After all, receiving messages from friends about products, services or ideas is the core of word of mouth advertising. Given the popularity of e-mail and the potential for knowledge sharing, it is not surprising that organizations are interested in learning more about the antecedents of this behavior.

Pass-along behavior is the most representative process of knowledge sharing via e-mail and is defined as the forwarding of messages received previously (Phelps et al., 2005). This behavior is the mechanism by which people share vast amounts of knowledge and information via e-mail and can also be understood as a form of online knowledge sharing. Furthermore, knowledge sharing via e-mail among peers is persuasive. Phelps et al. (2005) found that e-mail users viewed messages forwarded by their peers as more credible than commercial messages in mass media. This is a product of the personal connection and sense of trust between senders and receivers which is absent in traditional mass media advertising.

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