Search is advancing to the point of finding people and things on-line and off easily. The location of people and things has relevancy to certain things but true relevancy will come when “knowledge” can be mapped.
Applications such as Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowala and Yelp are examples of finding places of interest. Apps like Checkin Mania allows you to see places of interest from all four services side-by-side.
Checkin Mania is based on Google Maps, their site (here), you can enter a location and then see places of interest offered by all of the above mentioned services.
Places or People of Interest?
While the above mentioned applications provide utility for finding things in places of interest the next wave of value will come when “knowledge” will be mapped and we can easily find people whom have the knowledge we need for whatever purpose.
You might think that finding people with the right knowledge to solve whatever problem or create whatever solution you need can be done today. The reality is that the web doesn’t index knowledge rather it indexes content that is in context with what we may be seeking. Content is information not necessarily knowledge.
Knowledge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association and reasoning. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject with the ability to use it for a specific purpose if appropriate. Knowledge rest in the minds of people and our minds have the capacity of processing, storing and using more information than the entire web.
Is Social Media a Mind Map of Knowledge?
What if that which we “know” could be indexed for others to find? Are we more interested in finding places or knowledge?
The web is facilitating the creation of content faster than ever before. Trillions of bits of information are created everyday. Information turns to knowledge when it can be categorized into useful taxonomies. The information on the web is created by people and machines. It is the people who know how to use the information that represents “knowledge assets” yet to be indexed for use in efficient or effective ways.
Social media represents the communication of information. Someday in the near future we will see “knowledge maps” that enable people and organizations to efficiently find the right knowledge for the right purpose from the right people. That will be the day when learning and innovation accelerate like we’ve never seen or experience since the beginning of time. Why? Because knowledge is tangible when you can see and find it then apply it to solving problems or creating innovation. Today that happens in very inefficient ways. Tomorrow it will happen at the click of a mouse or a request from the spoken word.
Many talk about knowledge management and the knowledge economy. The current discussions do not reflect what will happen when the “knowledge inventory” of the human network becomes findable and usable my the masses.
The “Google map” will shift from places and things to people and knowledge. As Dorthy said in “The Wizard of Oz”, this doesn’t look like Kansas anymore.