Social Media Knowledge

Social Media Knowledge

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4727-5.ch014
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Social media represents emerging phenomena that proliferates through military, government, corporate, and non-profit organizations, as well as tens of millions of households around the world. Politicians, entertainers, revolutionaries, grandparents, and grandchildren alike are all participating in various aspects of the social media phenomena. Understanding how knowledge flows influence and are influenced by these phenomena is important for harnessing the power of dynamic knowledge principles for competitive advantage in our current, technology-driven, and socially connected world. As discussed in Chapter 11, these phenomena have both technical (esp. involving information technology) and non-technical (esp. involving people and organizations) aspects, which come together, through the process, for productive and goal-oriented action. Indeed, the process is where the socio and the technical parts come together: how people in organizations employ technologies to perform goal-oriented activities. Because the process provides an action-focused interface between fast-moving technologies and comparatively slow-moving people and organizations, it governs the proliferation and change of emerging phenomena. As such, technologically enabled, organizational, knowledge, and work processes in particular are key to leveraging emerging phenomena for competitive advantage. In this chapter, the authors employ familiar principles for understanding and analysis of social media as emerging knowledge phenomena.
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Social Media

Social media as a term is relatively new (at the time of this writing). Nonetheless, emerging with Web 2.0 capabilities, predictions suggest that social media will account for nearly half of the roughly $5B market for Web 2.0 products when this book is published (Liebowitz, 2012). Moreover, social media phenomena are being considered actively now in terms of knowledge-based competitive advantage, particularly because the social reach of knowledge is deemed by many to amplify its power in terms of organizational performance (Nonaka, 1994). Indeed, many social media applications extend such reach effectively (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998), and because they facilitate knowledge exchange (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) through technological intermediation also, they are expected broadly to improve the performance of organizational work (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2001; Choi, Lee, & Yoo, 2010; Martínez-Moreno, González-Navarro, Zornoza, & Ripoll, 2009; Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000; Montoya, Massey, & Lockwood, 2011; Samarah, Paul, & Tadisina, 2007).

Drawing from Nissen and Bergin (2013), for several instances, without central coordination of their activities or interactions, social networking (e.g., Facebook), microblogs (e.g., Twitter) and collaborative projects (e.g., Wikis) enable geographically and temporally distributed people to communicate and collaborate, in near-real-time often (Goel, Junglas, & Ives, 2009; Palen, Hiltz, & Liu, 2007; Sandelowski, 2000); demonstrative and instructional videos (e.g., YouTube) allow unknown (to the content creators) participants to learn by reviewing knowledge-based activities being performed, in addition to reading and hearing explanations about them, all via persistent media; simulation and game technologies that facilitate knowledge transfer (e.g., for training aircraft pilots to fly, for instructing business managers on decision making, for teaching people to play chess and other board games), although not considered by all as “Web 2.0” or “social media” applications per se, enable people to experience directly and practice knowledge work first hand, albeit in synthetic environments; and as we discuss in Chapter 13 above, immersive, 3D environments supporting virtual social (e.g., SecondLife) and game (e.g., World of Warcraft) worlds, which represent social media applications also (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010), enable users to sense social presence, co-presence, psychological engrossment and affective experience reminiscent of direct, physical and face-to-face (F2F) interaction on multiple levels (Short, 1976; Witmer, 1998).

Because social media applications exist solely within IT systems and artifacts (i.e., Cyberspace), their enabling technological infrastructure changes quickly and frequently. Scientists discover continually new materials, architectures, algorithms and mechanics that enable faster, more powerful and more inclusive and compelling computational and communication effects. Engineers then follow quickly to apply the underlying knowledge to design, test and field innovative devices and systems that put such effects into practice. In this respect, despite the considerable current attention being drawn to social media applications, not much is new. Technology changes quickly and enables consistently novel communication capabilities through such frequent change. Social media applications represent another metaphorical step forward along a long path of technological advance. From a purely infrastructural perspective, even as emerging knowledge phenomena, social media applications are neither new nor particularly interesting.

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