The term learning curve refers to the changing rate of learning (in the average person) for a given activity or tool. Typically, the increase in retention of information is sharpest after the first attempts, and then gradually even out, meaning that less and less new information is retained after each repetition.
The learning curve can also represent the first difficulty of learning something and, to an extent, how much there is to learn after first familiarity.
The rate of change and interest of a subject affects personal and organizational learning curves. The faster the elements of a subject changes and the higher the interest is indicative of new learning curves forming which can increase the difficulty after initial familiarity.
The Social Learning Curve
All things social are creating a herd of copycats following practices, methods and behavior created by the frenzy of learning something new. Everyone is running to Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and whatever new “social thing” appears on the market moment by moment. Many are following the content of self-appointed guru’s who propagate the wisdom of the crowds which becomes nothing more than obvious observation of short-term changes and moments of interest about who, what, where, how and why. It seems like some crowds follow the traffic without thinking about where the traffic is going.
When we stop and think about the meaning of what social technology represents and the relevant rates of change only then can we begin to learn how to adapt to learning curves before us. When we don’t think then we aren’t learning because all we are doing is following the behavior of others. Following others behavior isn’t learning rather it is simply repeating what others do or say.
The Economics of Learning Curves
The more we learn the more we know. Learning doesn’t stop after formal education. Learning is a lifelong process. When we stop learning we reduce our knowledge inventory and when our inventory doesn’t grow than productivity becomes static.
In economics learning of productivity and efficiency generally follows the same kinds of experience curves and has interesting secondary effects. Efficiency and productivity improvement can be considered as whole organization or industry or economies learn.
All things social are relevant to methodologies for improving anything and everything. Why? Because improvement cannot be achieved without communications. While most of today’s social media activities are centric to marketing and pr (with little improvement in methods) there is much more that social can help improve.
New improvement opportunities rest within the learning curve which is outside existing knowledge. To discover those improvement opportunities requires thinking beyond the moment and studying the very dynamics that create the rates of change and interest. Like money, the rates of change and interest are where the value of the next curve is created. New knowledge rest outside of experience and learning the possibilities along the social curve is where the new roads of knowledge are developing.
Most of today’s social media traffic is following an old road and not creating a new one. The road of knowledge will take you back to the same place you’ve been or to a new place you haven’t been. You decide which road serves you best.