Monday, 23 July 2007

On personal information vs knowledge environments and aggregation

Allison L and I are talking about personal knowledge management environments, and I mentioned Netvibes as one example. Allison disagreed:

"Netvibes seems similar to Google Homepage... It allows you to personalise a 'homepage' with news etc. Perhaps this system is more flexible, but these mashups seem pretty mainstream nowadays.

I would describe these as personal infomation environments rather than knowledge environments because I think these ideas of mashups are extremely limited. In my imagination a 'true' mashup is one where data from one source is fed into software at another source, ot, better still, two datastreams from different, unrelated sources are fed ino a single application to create something new, unique, useful and fitting a novel purpose.

From everything I've read so far there seems to be too much thinking about individual applications in isolation - ie perhaps twitter has a use, but so what? What if I could feed it into flugelbinder and the system could somehow automatically help to point me to links in ideas that would help me come up with new ideas rather than collections of small groups of thoughts. I think we should think about how these applications can work together."

I agree that aggregation and interlinking of these tools is the key. In realtion to the "wisdom of the crowds" metaphor which we have been exploring in the context of some research proposals that we have been working on recently, "aggregation" is also one of the four conditions that James Surowiecki says characterise wise crowds.

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