What do you know?

// Posted by on 02/28/2012 (4:53 PM)

Dr. Saskia Sassen spoke at the Theorizing the Web Conference in 2011 about how the internet shapes knowledge practices. Her lecture is extremely interesting and packed with information but one of the things I have retained from her lecture is the difference between formal and informal knowledge. Formal knowledge is hegemonic knowledge, or that which the people in power say is important to know. Informal knowledge is basically anything we learn outside of that realm. Sassen described knowledge as a possibility for action. As in, what will you do with your knowledge? Most of us restrict this to hegemonic knowledge and will apply that to a career of some sort. But what about informal knowledge? How can we use information we just kind of pick up on for action? In a previous post I brought up Britta Riley’s window garden, this is a fair example because window gardens are not exactly a huge part of school curriculum. Riley’s window garden is an especially good example in this context because the web was crucial to the development of her window garden, without all of that corroboration she may still have a noisy somewhat leaky window garden in her apartment. And this use of the internet brings up something else Sassen focused on in her lecture, that technology is the key to merging hegemonic and informal knowledge. As a sociologist focusing on globalization and economic restructuring Sassen of course related this to finances.

She described this pool of technology that is shared and results in greater knowledge. In the financial world this stays within one bureaucratic network of people that never circles back to technology. Whereas in the community, the cycle of technology, sharing, and knowledge is continuous and influential of itself. Sassen suggests that the merging of these two cycles would have a powerful result.

So what do you know? How can your knowledge result in action? And what will that action be?


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Abbey said...

I have always considered one of the most amazing things about the internet to be the ability to share informal knowledge with anyone who is willing to read it. Of course, before I watched Dr. Sassen’s lecture, I couldn’t really put this thought into those terms. I find it remarkable that informal knowledge that people have can be shared and, if sought out, anyone can form a group on the web, no matter where they are, based on their beliefs or goals. Knowledge really can result in action because everything is shared and everyone who wants to has the opportunity to seek others like them to come together and turn knowledge, thoughts, or ideas into action. I believe the action can take any form, whether it be simply creating a forum to discuss thoughts and ideas or the ability to form a group and plan something like a flash mob which results in police action and rioting. The possibilities of informal knowledge sharing are endless.

// 02/28/2012 at 9:56 pm