“Circles” of Knowledge

by Jay Deragon on 08/01/2011

Google Plus has gotten lots of attention lately with much of the commentary focused around the “circles feature”. Now comes the collaborative dialog of how best to set up and use circles.  However most of the suggestions are simply copying old organization models.

We must begin to ask what and why are we collecting, organizing and connecting people and content.  Are we not creating our own library of people and content that represents knowledge we can use now or in the future?

We all have profiles of ourselves everywhere. Our profiles “contain” relevant information about our educations, experience and interest. Every time we “tweet”, comment or write a post the context of what we share is also a reflection of our “knowledge circle”.

Organizational profiles also reflect relevant information about people, products, services and beliefs of the organization. What the organization shares and how it uses technology reflects its beliefs. These reflections are transparent for the entire human network to witness, observe, share and determine whether there is an affinity of interest or knowledge worthy of our attention.

Whether individually or collectively as an organization our profiles are mirrors of who we are, what we know and believe and the intent of our engagement with the human network. Over time and with increased engagement our profiles reveal more and more about what we believe which is reflected by what we know (knowledge) about and give to the human network.

Our “social profiles” are building our individual and collective “knowledge circles” relevant to intellectual, social, creative and spiritual capital we all possess. Today our profiles are not indexed as knowledge assets rather our current profiles rest in contextual containers that reflect “key words” that create our on-line identity. Today none of the “contextual containers” are integrated into a taxonomy that indexes the “knowledge assets” each of us possesses or the collective knowledge inventory of our human network.

Circles of Knowledge

People socialize around conversational content. Popular content may reflect creative perspectives, innovative ideas and insights about problems others want to solve or perspectives others seek. People also migrate to other people based on spiritual capital meaning common beliefs, principles and practices.

The circles of influence that attracts people to other people represents the collective value attributed by the four elements of “knowledge assets“. Social currency is represented by the value of our individual knowledge assets which are reflected by our engagement with the human network. Our engagement is reflected by our exchanges with others and the perceived value of those exchanges.

Now imagine being able to organize a “Circles of Knowledge” that indexed people and content  that could be used to solve whatever problem people, organizations and institutions seek to solve.

Building Circles of Value

Most people and organizations don’t stop and think about the type of inventory they are building on the net. When you consider how search engines are advancing everything we put onto the internet is like an inventory of information, some valuable and most of it worthless. The inventory is being stored in virtual libraries that our grand children’s children will be able to access. The value of any inventory is directly proportional to how quickly it is turned over, in other words consumed and used to create inventories for others to use.

Whether an individual, organization or society at large having access to the right “knowledge inventory” at the right time represents a significant increase in productivity. Productivity is what fuels the economy. Any economy is tied to productivity. Economic growth is defined as any production increase of a business or nation (whatever you are measuring). Real economic growth consists of an increase in production input and an increase in productivity.

Google+ “Circles Scheme” is actually an innovation whose time has come. Now we can build our own as well as collective libraries of knowledge that are relevant to our individual and collective goals.  The innovation does not rest with Google rather it rest with each of us to use Google technologies in a way that benefits ourselves as well as the entire human network.

Adding value to the human network by adding to each circle of knowledge represents social currency that creates economic value for generations to come.  Build and name your circles wisely!

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