1 February 2010

LIKE 10 - Information behaviour and cultural change

The most recent LIKE (London Information and Knowledge Exchange) event was a resounding success, as usual.

The familiar elements were there, twenty plus people discussing a subject that they are all interested in over a few drinks and a meal in convivial surroundings.

This months event had a slightly different format with one of the LIKE founders, Virginia Henry, interviewing antipodeans Liz Scott-Wilson and Carol Scott who explained knowledge sharing and record keeping from the perspective of a railway engineer and a social worker.

In each case they understood the value of records but gave little importance to maintaining them and preferred to speak to colleagues rather than referring them.

The interviews and subsequent whole-group discussion threw up some familiar themes, such as how to convince somebody to share knowledge when there is no immediate or direct benefit to them.

A variant of Information Literacy (one of my many hobby-horses) arose too in that we have all developed our own schemes of note taking etc. because nobody has ever told us how to do this.

I also found myself questioning, not for the first time, whether it is sensible, or even possible, to try and keep records about complex and subjective matters like the well-being of a family.

An unexpected insight came over dinner when our table got on to the subject of pub quizzes and discovered that we all do them, we all pretend not to take them seriously, all delight when we get a question right when nobody else knows the answer and we all had horror stories of when our correct answer was unfairly dismissed by a moronic question master!

This ubiquitous delight in the depths of our personal knowledge may be a symptom of the social issues that prevent us from sharing our knowledge freely and easily. I need to thing more about that.

It is because LIKE offers these insights and new thoughts that I keep going. The social elements help greatly too, these are fun and stimulating people to be with.

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