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Second Year Paper BA(im) - 2008

Mark - Kristoffer - Kristian

Facilitating tacit knowledge?

Kristoffer Solberg Hansen

Kristian Rønne
Mark Jensen

Number of STU 85.546
Number of pages 41

Supervisor Mads Bødker

Courses Information in Context

Organisational Innovation & System Design
Computer Mediated Communication & Collaborative Work

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Table of contents
Abstract 4
Introduction 4
Literature review 4
Methodology 6
Empirical sources 6
Company presentation - Wemind 6
The Company 6
Communication at Wemind 7
Microblogging as a Framework 9

Qualitative and quantitative research 10

Knowledge 10
The SECI model 11
Data, Information, Knowledge & Wisdom 13
Data 13
Information 13
Knowledge 14
Wisdom 15
Velocity and Viscosity 15
Tacit knowledge & Ba 16
Summary 18

Platform 18
Introduction 18
Definition Microblogging 19
Limitations 19
Analysis - Reinvention 20
Virtual thinking 20
Interessement & Appropriation 21
Implementation 22

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Analysis - Taxonomy 23
Summary Platform 25

Social presence 25
Introduction Social Presence 25
Presence awareness 26
Serendipity 28
Search analysis 28
Convergent & Divergent behavior 28

Social objects 29
Conclusion 31

References 33
Appendix 1 35
Seci 35

Appendix 2 36
The continium of Understanding 36

Appendix 3 37
Velocity & Viscosity 37

Appendix 4 38
Facebook active user 38

Appendix 5 39
Facebook Denmark Network 39

Appendix 6 40
Serendipity: User encounter interest space 40

Appendix 7 41
Serendipity: Convergent and divergent 41

Appendix 8 42
MacLeod: The Blue Monster 42

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Facilitation of tacit knowledge is one of the biggest tasks for organisations today and
essential for the organisations that wish to use the full potential of their employees. With
the aid of relevant theory on Knowledge, Social Media Platforms and Presence, we
analyze if tacit knowledge can be externalised and if a microblogging platform can aid in
such a process. To further explore the area of organisational collaboration we conducted
interviews with consultants with extensive knowledge within this field. This led us to a
conclusion stating that in order for the tool to be able to facilitate tacit knowledge, it should
be a social space in which the members of the organisation can engage in work-related
topics as well as general social interaction.

We have chosen facilitation of tacit knowledge as our subject of research. Tacit
knowledge has been discussed by many over the years - from philosophers to academic
theorists, who have all given their contribution to as how tacit knowledge can be used
and how to transfer this from individual to individual. Many have also tried to incorporate
this phenomena into an organisational context in order to optimize each employee giving
them the resources to a more effective work standard. In this research paper we will try
and examine how the facilitation of tacit knowledge can be done through a social media
platform and how this works in an organisational context. We will research tacit
knowledge as part of a knowledge analysis, but also try and incorporate this into a social
media context to examine not only how to extract tacit knowledge, but also to be able to
facilitate this.
In our analysis we will seek to answer our research question which is as following:

How can an organisation facilitate tacit knowledge through a social media platform?

To structure the paper and isolate each element of the research we have decided to
divide the paper into three sections: Knowledge, Social Media Platform and Social
Presence. Each section will deal with a separate part of the research.

Literature review
As part of the research for this paper we have chosen a variety of literature on the topic.
The paper is structured in a three section format with three main areas each giving a new
perspective to the research. The three sections are selected on the basis of our research
question with the labels: knowledge, platform and social presence each containing
literature related to the section topic of our research as defined in our research question.

The first research topic in the paper is knowledge and the aim of that paragraph is first to
define knowledge and with the emphasis on tacit knowledge hence this is the initial
starting point of our research. For defining knowledge and tacit knowledge we have used
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the philosopher Michel Polanyi (1967) and his thoughts about tacit knowing; that we know
more than we can tell. This angle deals with the way we act according to beliefs and
assumptions and that we can attach feelings to our knowledge making the knowledge
personal. In order for us to analyze the way that we use knowledge in a context and how
we transfer knowledge between people we have used Nonaka & Takeuchi’s (1995) SECI
model and Nonaka’s theory of Ba (1998). They argue that you can transfer tacit
knowledge between people in shared social spaces and along with Polanyi (1967)
contribute with the foundation for analyzing tacit knowledge, both as to define it and as a
transition between people.

Because this paper is centered around a microblogging platform we use Davenport &
Prusak (1998) to define the differences and diversity between data, information,
knowledge (and wisdom). This is a vital difference as these terms will be used frequently
during the platform paragraph and therefore it is essential that there is a clear
differentiation between these, along with analyzing the transition when data become
information and then knowledge. The last part of our knowledge analysis is the paragraph
on shareability (Freyd 1983). Freyd illustrates the point of shareability and along with the
theory on Velocity and Viscosity, it is possible to determine how fast and shareable
information created in an organisation can be.

The next section of the paper is about the platform where we will start by defining
blogging and microblogging. For this we will apply Tim O’Reilly’s (2005) thoughts on Web
2.0 and blogging in general. In addition to O’Reilly (2005) we will use Surowiecki (2004) to
define the different aspects of microblogging. Furthermore the aspect of how the platform
will be adopted by the different users will be addressed in the Re-invention analysis
through the use of (Akrich et. al. 2002) and Perry (2003). These theories possess an angle
on how information is shared within the organisation and how to anchor such a platform
within the users. The last part of the platform analysis is about taxonomy and the tools to
structure and tag the information posted in the microblog. For this we use Morville &
Rosenfeld’s (2006) theory on tagging and the architecture of different taxonomies.
Furthermore we try to illustrate the opposing approaches in a rigid and cognitive
taxonomy using Ungerer & Schmid (1996) and Thomas Vander Wal’s (2006) thoughts on
folksonomies and collective tagging in an social environment.

The last section of the paper concerns presence within a virtual space and how the
organisation can aim at creating a community for their members. For this we will use
Jones (1995) to examine the importance of each user getting the feeling of being present
with others. Moreover we will analyze the way the user search for information and the
behavioral tendencies that evolves when searching through a virtual space. To examine
this thoroughly we will apply the theory on Serendipity (Björneborn 2008). Lastly we will
use known bloggers and pioneers within the field to give a different perspective on what
users socialize around, the socalled social objects. We have chosen to use Engeström
(2006) and MacLeod (2007) despite their non academic texts we will try and examine this
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perspective from their point of view and see if their technical understanding fits the
academic theory.

Empirical sources
We have chosen microblogging as a focal point for the collection of our empirical data,
which was done by interviewing leading, prominent people with extensive knowledge
within the field the research question. This has been done while simultaneously
documenting empirical data thus allowing us to examine potential ways of using such a
tool in collaboration with other project management tools, and the securement of project
collaboration in organisationations.
We have chosen to use Wemind as the point of departure for our analysis and foundation
for the project, since they use a microblog in their day to day business. They also offer
solutions and platforms to their clients, which made them an obvious partner in this
analysis. Our connection with the company was Jacob Bøtter.

To get perspective on the empirical data we have gathered interviews with some of the
innovators and pioneers in the field of microblogging and web 2.0 in Denmark. Apart from
interviewing Jacob Bøtter from Wemind, we have conducted interviews with Jon Froda and
Anders Pollas from the company Hoist. They have developed a project management
system with the purpose of sharing and facilitate knowledge, within an organisation or
project group. Furthermore we have contacted Ph.D. Lennart Björneborn from the Royal
Danish Library School. He is an expert within the field of user participation, knowledge
sharing, social navigation and serendipity. Project Manger at FDIH Henriette Weber
Andersen Kristensen was interviewed as well to get an insight in social presence and
presence strategy in a organisational setting. Lastly we contacted Trine-Maria Kristensen
from Social Square that consults on tools like wikis, weblogs and other social technologies.

Company presentation - Wemind

The Company
Wemind as a company was officially formalised by Jacob Bøtter and Hans Henrik Heming
as a stock-based corporation on July 1st, 2007. According to the company website,
Wemind presently consists of two partners, four associate partners, four project leaders
and one research manager.

The core business of Wemind is relationships between people and on securing the highest
possible quality of these relationships and the communication between these. This
communication often consists of valuable information and is often lost after the
communication is over. Wemind helps organisations handle, identify and secure this
information by utilizing new social media.

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The reason why this is so important, is because a lot of valuable corporate information is
rooted in the employees, and often stays there, when employees leave the organisation.
Wemind focuses on this challenge and tries, through the use of social media tools, to
withdraw some of this knowledge and anchor it within the organisation of their client.

“Wemind is not an ordinary advertising agency, nor is it a web consultancy. Wemind is

more a consultancy firm deeply rooted through anthropology, existing within the matrix
between the two company types.” (Bøtter 2008) Wemind's focus is on analyzing their
customersʼ organisation and how the use of social media could help them use their
resources better. They offer clients blog management and support, and presently handles
around 50-60 blogs, including the one written by the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh

Communication at Wemind
Internally Wemind uses several tools to secure flow of information and communication.
The choice of tool for communication is determined based on whether the communication
is between people within the company or to external customers and suppliers. The tool
chosen is also determined according to what task needs to be solved. The traditional
intranet has been replaced by numerous platforms with task related specificity and
customization because of these criteria.
• Instant messaging - (IM)
One-to-one communication varies in format, but is mostly done using Instant
Messaging (IM). Not everyone uses this tool, but those that do use the Google chat
function, as it is already built in to Gmail which is the standard mail platform within the
• Wiki
Important data and knowhow such as meeting notes, references, CV's and
experiences are stored in a wiki. “this is the storage space where our main information
is stored and also where knowledge is consolidated.” (Bøtter 2008) The information
stored in the wiki is stored according to a formal defined structure for unified
• Project Management
Managing projects and ongoing tasks is done using Basecamp, a project
management tool which in short allows employees to follow and edit single or multiple
projects and monitor processes within the group. Basecamp is different from the wiki,
since it is used in the process that leeds to the knowledge that eventually will be
stored in the wiki. (
• External Communication
Keeping track of who Wemind talks to externally, what is said and what is going to
happen next, is done using Highrise, an online contact manager and simple CRM
system that allows users to see who they, or anyone within the company, has talked
to, and what was noted down after the conversation. It also allows for reminders and
sync to calenders, thus making it work great with the other tools used at Wemind.
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( Interestingly Wemindʼs clients have access to this tool so

they too can access the notes and appointments made by the contact at Wemind
(Bøtter 2008).
• Microblog
At Wemind the main part of internal communication is done using a microblogging
platform, unless it is one to one communication where IM is used. The microblog “ is
the talk that happens at the water cooler, during the coffee break or while people are
outside smoking. The topics of the posts are both of social and work related character,
and can not be controlled.”... "It will always exist within a company, so why not take it
to the digital workspace, share it and use the knowledge created?” (Bøtter 2008).

The platform enables employees inbound and outbound of the office to quickly overview
the current work situation, and alert them to crucial information that they might need to
know of. According to Jacob Bøtter, one of the things that needs to be in focus when using
a microblogging platform within a company is, “that the focus of the communication should
be on the company and things related to the job, and not about making friends as primary
focus, as it is the case with many other online social networks”. (Bøtter 2008) The
microblog has a tagging feature which gives the platform a powerful edge when it comes
to sorting and finding data. Users can choose to tag posts giving everyone easy access to
the history of posts. The creation of the tags are done in a cognitive way and some
examples are “Friday, Whatʼs going on, Thoughts, Ideas, Customers, Branch and
Internal” (Bøtter 2008). “[…] This feature is used when we prepare prior to meetings,
phone calls and other communications, by quickly browsing through the relevant tags and
history. This combination, together with the wiki are the tools that we feel, give us the best
overview and presents us with the superior information on the topic.” (Bøtter 2008)

Regarding the content of the blog posts, there are no rules as to what can be posted, only
an encouragement of using common sense, good manners and the respect for others. The
posts are normally very short updates on what people are doing or where they are going to
be during the day. “A whole dayʼs posts can almost always be viewed in one screen
without having to scroll.” (Bøtter 2008), giving the quick overview mentioned earlier.

People normally spend 5-15 minutes during the day using the microblog, but even though
the microblogging platform is a tool used only a couple of times a day, “the application
window is omnipresent in the background throughout the work day.” (Bøtter 2008).

If an employee needs to have an answer to a question, but donʼt know who to ask for an
answer, it is posted through the microblog, giving different perspectives to the answer. It is
also used to support the wiki when it comes to preparation for meetings, either internally or
externally, giving the user a quick overview of the topics with the right tags and history of
what has been discussed. Although the users use the tags to read posts “it is very rare that
the users search through the blog posts history, since it is used more on a drop in and out
basis.” ...“it is not Jaiku (a microblogging platform, but with a social focus, ed.), meaning
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too many posts would result in the loss of overview, due to the increase of post stream
creating ʻnoiseʼ.”(Bøtter 2008)

Working with different systems poses challenges to the organisation to use the right tool
for the right task, thus facilitating knowledge anchoring in the organisation. “One of the
main challenges at Wemind when talking about facilitating information, is that sometimes
the information that should have been entered into the wiki sometimes never makes it
further than the microblog”.(Bøtter 2008).

As a coincidence “Everyone working at Wemind has previous experience with

microblogging, so it is very easy for them to use the platform as a communication
tool” (Bøtter 2008). At Wemind the functionality of the microblog is an important one and its
value as a tool is superior when it comes to creating office dynamics and team spirit
amongst the people in and out of the office. (Bøtter 2008)

When asked if microblogging could work in larger organisations, Jacob Bøtterʼs experience
is that, “microblogging should be used in smaller teams or clusters of 5-30 people, since it
loses its personal touch and contact once the number of users and blog posts increase,
thus losing its value as a tool that through socialization ʻgluesʼ the other tools
together” (Bøtter 2008). This viewpoint is shared by the people at Hoist, who recommend
only smaller teams in using microblogging.

Microblogging as a Framework
Through our interview with Henriette Weber Andersen Kristiansen, where focus was
shifted from microblogging to social presence, we received perspectives as to
implementing microblogs in a corporate or organisational setting. Her point on presence
“companies should first consider where they wish to be present, before deciding on what
tools they want to implement and where they want their employees to be present” (Weber
2008) highlights the importance on creating a presence strategy (Weber 2008), since ”it is
important to consider what the aim of implementing the tool is, instead of just implementing
because everyone else is doing it.” (Weber 2008). This is a very interesting point, when
held up against the way Wemind has chosen to use microblogs. Weber goes on to
suggest and pose questions that should be considered before jumping into implementation
of online social presence and communication tools. Questions such as “why are we
here?” (using this platform), “what value is added to our organisation, by using this tool?”,
“Microblogging is a stand alone tool, will it disappear in the mass of other tools used
internally?” (Weber, 2008). The point regarding the use of microblogs in an organisational
context, “should be a social object, for the users to gather around” (Weber 2008), aligns
very much with “without the social and informal conversations the formal and
organisational relevant information is lost. The socializing element, is the glue that holds it
all together” (Bøtter, 2008).

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Their experience with implementing social collaboration tools at Social Square indicates
that in practice the spread and initiation of tools such as the microblog is not something
that comes top-down, but rather something that grows in the small and later propagates
throughout the organisational body. “[...] it is rare that it is a collective or managerial
decision, that leeds to success - the innovation comes from the peripheral areas, and is
often smuggled in as pilot projects, that grows and spreads to other functions in the
organisation[...]” (Kristensen, 2008). This is exactly as seen in the Wemind example from
earlier. The reason or criteria for success of the tool, in order for it to spread, could be
educed to be “[...] because the tool is beneficial and gives meaning to the work
process” (Kristensen, 2008).

Qualitative and quantitative research

We have chosen to approach this paper and our analysis by focusing on microblogging,
through interviews with a handful of experts in the field instead of conducting surveys with
users of microblogging, and from that gather empirical data to build our case upon. The
reason for us choosing interviews, has been due to contacts to key individuals within the
field here in Denmark. Our method of acquiring data focuses on the microblog as an
organisational tool and not the method of collection itself. This form of collecting empirical
data with high quality vs. high quantity data, typically found when using surveys, allows us
to get insight into the users perspectives, through interaction with them, rather than just
predicting what could happen in a given situation and explaining the results afterwards,
had we used surveys. To ad width to this paper it could be interesting, within the future, to
analyse a larger number of companies to see how they use communication tools such as
microblogging compared to what we have found in this study. This could have been done
simultaneously with careful planning, but due to spacial limitations, this last angle will not
be addressed in this paper.

The history of knowledge as a concept goes back a long time, with Plato being the first
notable philosopher to give it a definition. It states that “knowledge [is] a true judgment
with an account” (Bernadete 1986), meaning that knowledge is something you believe to
be true and have proof for its truth. Later, in 1690, the English philosopher John Locke
coined another definition about what knowledge is, when he wrote “An Essay Concerning
Human Understanding” (1689) in which he brings forth his ideas of The Self, which is “a
self-aware, self-reflecting consciousness that is fixed in a body” (Clapp 1967).

We are not born this way, however, as it is a gradual process and through experience we
are shaped by sensations and later reflections, with first-time experiences leaving the
biggest marks in our empty cabinet (“Tabula Rasa”). Basically, Locke argues that we act
according to earlier experiences, and what we have learned (or “sensed”) throughout our

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life, makes us capable of reflecting upon these experiences and thus produce new ideas
(Clapp 1967).

Scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi, has the same view on experiences as
foundation for reflection, as he would argue that you act based on “tacit
knowing” (Polanyi 1967), because, as he said, “we know more than we can tell” (1967:4).
Polanyi argues in “The Tacit Dimension”, that one always act based on beliefs and
assumptions made at an earlier stage in one’s life, and thus are an inseparable part of
you, even though you can not describe them in words. With this in mind, it is important to
note that Polanyi, (Polanyi 1967) also argues that you associate emotions with your
experiences, so your knowledge becomes personal.

Still, it is possible to demonstrate your tacit knowing, i.e. via an apprenticeship where the
student observes the master and then practices under the master’s guidance. (Polanyi

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) have a slightly different approach to the transfer of tacit
knowledge between people, as they have their theory of the SECI model and the idea of
‘Ba’ which is a “shared space for emerging relationships”. Basically, Nonaka & Takeuchi
argues that you can pass on tacit knowledge in a space (being physical or virtual) where
you socialize and demonstrate what you know, but the knowledge would still be tacit. If it
should be made explicit, you would have to describe it in words, which is not possible
according to Polanyi.

The difference between the different theoretical approaches to what knowledge is will be
covered and we will especially go more into depth with the variations in the mentioned
theoretic definitions of tacit versus explicit knowledge. Furthermore, the difference
between data, information, knowledge and eventually wisdom, will also be further
analysed later in this part of the paper.

The SECI model

In 1991, Ikujiro Nonaka wrote an article about tacit and explicit knowledge which was
elaborated upon with his colleague, Hirotaka Takeuchi, in their book “The Knowledge-
Creating Company” from 1995.

In the book, the two authors argue that the reason why so many Japanese organisations
are successful is because of their ability to facilitate and work with the tacit knowledge
that is created in the organisations. Whereas many Western organisations are focused on
dealing with the explicit knowledge, Japanese organisations deal with the tacit
knowledge. This is due to the Western focus on subject (“he who knows”) as separated
from the object (“what is known”) which is much more integrated in the Japanese thinking
that stems from Buddhism, Kungfucianism and Western Philosophy (Schlamowitz 2000,

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Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). The mind and the body is more interdependent than in Western
intellectual tradition.

Furthermore, Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995) argue that knowledge can only be created by
individuals and defines two dimensions of knowledge creation: The Ontological and
Epistemological dimension (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). The Ontological dimension is a
way to determine at which level the knowledge created lies; it can be a part of a group or
an organisation, or at an inter-organisation level. The Epistemological dimension
determines if the knowledge is tacit (which again can be ‘cognitive’, i.e. a belief, or
‘technical’, i.e. craft methods) or explicit, which is what can be described in words.

There is increasing focus on the value of knowledge in the Western society, as we move
away from the traditional capitalistic society and towards an information society as
described by Peter Drucker in his book “Post-Capitalist Society” from 1993. Therefore,
Nonaka & Takeuchi argues that it is essential for the Western organisations to begin
facilitating the tacit knowledge and make it explicit.

Not only does Nonaka & Takeuchi argue that the process must be done, they also give a
model of how the knowledge is transfered throughout different phases in an organisation.
This is their so called “SECI model”, which is an abbreviation for Socialization,
Externalization, Combination and Internalization. (Appendix 1)

In the first phase, Socialization, the focus is on socializing, meaning the members of the
organisation should show one another their tacit knowledge. In the example from the
introduction, the mentor shows the student how a task should be done, which the student
then practices under the guidance of the mentor.
This way the tacit knowledge is transfered between two people (or more, for that sake),
but it is not externalised. (Appendix 1)

Should the knowledge become explicit, it would need to articulated, which is what
happens in the Externalization phase. This is where people are put together to try and put
words on their know how and the procedures in the company by for instance creating
metaphors, concepts, hypothesis, models and analogies. In other words, to describe
what you know that can be articulated and transfered onto a document that can be filed
and copied. (Appendix 1)

When the tacit knowledge has become explicit it can be connected and combined with
other sorts of explicit knowledge in a systemizing process. This explicit knowledge can be
exchanged between people in conversations, documents, via media and meetings. The
best example of this transfer of knowledge is formal training and education. (Appendix 1)

The last phase is the Internalization phase. If you read a lot about a certain topic that
involves physical labour (riding a bicycle, i.e.) you get an idea of what it takes to carry out,
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but before you actually do it, you don’t know exactly what it takes - it is learning by doing
(Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). It is only in the moment when you make the explicit
knowledge tacit by reflecting upon it you truly understands what the true meaning of the
words are. (Appendix 1)

These four phases are closely linked to their own ‘Ba’, which is a “shared space for
emerging relationships” in Nonaka’s words (1998). Basically, each process is linked to a
space, being virtual or physical, where the knowledge transfer can happen. These spaces
will be explained further in the section called “Tacit Knowledge and Ba” found later in this

Data, Information, Knowledge & Wisdom

In their book, “Working Knowledge”, Tom Davenport and Laurence Prusak (1998) put
forth a way of separating data and information from knowledge. They categorize data and
information as knowledge that exist apart from people, whereas knowledge is “a fluid mix
of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight [… and] it
originates and is applied in the minds of knowers. In organisations, it often becomes
embedded not only in documents or repositories but also in organisational routines,
processes, practices, and norms” (Davenport & Prusak 1998:5). It is important to outline
what characterizes these terms as they differentiate from one another, and to be able to
clearly express what we mean when using the term Information as opposed to
Knowledge, we must define them. This will be done through Cleveland’s model ‘The
Continuum of Understanding’ (1982) (Appendix 2) which clearly shows what characterizes
the terms and how they can be distinguished from one another.

“Data is a set of discrete, objective facts about events” (Davenport & Prusak 1998:2-3),
which basically means that data is the smallest form of building block from which you
create meaning and context. As the quote states, it is objective facts and as such it is
neither positive nor negative, but straight facts. That is why data as such is meaningless -
it has no context, but its relationship with other bits of data. An example of such data is
today’s temperature. It can be 25 degrees today, but it is meaningless if it is not put into
context with other data.

In latin, “Inform” means to give form or shape to something (Oxford Dictionary). This
correlates perfectly with Davenport & Prusak’s definition of information: “Think of
information as data that makes a difference.” (1998:3). Basically, it is data that is
presented or structured in a specific manner so it gives meaning to the people consuming
it. In the example from above with the temperature, we could be presented with the
temperatures from the previous and following days so we get an understanding of
whether or not the temperature is on the rise (it could be 23 degrees yesterday, 25 today

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and 27 tomorrow), but we still have not thought of this pattern ourselves; it is only
presented to us in a context we do understand.

Moreover, when talking about information, the concept of “Shareability” (Freyd 1983) is
important to take into account. “Shareability refers to the extent to which information is
shareable” (, in other words how
shareable the information is without loss of its intended meaning. Freyd also distinguishes
between internal (emotional) and external (spoken, written) information, with the former
being difficult to share because of the value laden nature of the information, and the latter
being more easily shareable, as it is only a matter of reproducing the voice recording or
the text. However, it is beyond our scope to take into account the concept of internal
information, as that is what we would define as tacit knowledge and we already deal
extensively with the shareability of that.

We define information as a gathering of data in a specific pattern that can be easily

understood by any person without prior knowledge of what is being presented, i.e. a
curve that shows the rise in temperature from yesterday to tomorrow.

As written in the introduction to this part of the paper, tacit knowledge is, according to
Polanyi (1967) (who called it ‘tacit knowing’), the subjective, intangible knowledge we
have, but of which we are not aware and can not articulate. It is an inseparable part of
you, as it is experiences you have reflected upon in accordance to your beliefs and
assumptions, so you associate emotions with it. It becomes personal. This is also called
the cognitive dimension of tacit knowledge, because it relates to what you believe and
think, and is closely connected to the norms of the culture in which you live (Nickols
2000).(Appendix 2)

The Technical Dimension is also a part of your tacit knowledge. Normally it is referred to
as “know how” and skills like face-recognition falls under this category. “The knowing is in
the doing” as Anderson (1995) describes it. You do not know how you recognize a face,
and even though you try to describe a face extensively it would still be impossible to
recognize it from a group of similar-looking people, if you only have the description.
Another example is reading a map and comparing it to the real territory; you could read all
you want about Mount Everest and study as many maps as you could find, but it would
still not be “the real deal”, merely a representation. You would have to experience it,
before you could read a map and really know how the environment depicted on the map
would be like in real life. (Nickols 2000) (Appendix 2)

Implicit knowledge is a term used by Nickols (2000) which he uses as a definition for the
knowledge that can be articulated but has not yet. Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995) also talks
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about implicit knowledge, but they use it as part of the term tacit knowledge, and does
not distinguish between tacit knowledge that can not be articulated and tacit knowledge
that can. We choose to use the term implicit knowledge as Nickols does it, and tacit
knowledge in the way Polanyi (1967) and Anderson (1995) use it. Otherwise it is not
possible to fully describe when knowledge can be captured and when it is only a
description of the knowledge. (Appendix 2)

Explicit knowledge can be defined in various ways. One is to say that knowledge which
was once implicit has been articulated and thus it is now explicit. It exists outside the
human mind and should be seen as objective - it is not “know how”, it is “know what”,
which is why it is also called declarative knowledge (Nickols 2000). In the example of
temperatures I am presented with a graph that shows a rise in temperatures from
yesterday until today, which is declarative, objective facts. Should I choose to research
something about wind speed and atmospheric pressure, I reflect upon the explicit
knowledge presented and form a new whole, which I may or may not be able to
articulate, thus making it either tacit or implicit. (Appendix 2)

Another example of explicit knowledge is mathematical formulas (Nickols 2000) and what
can be formally expressed in manuals, specifications, regulations, rules and procedures
(Kimble, Hildreth & Wright 2002). All of these are objective facts that can stand alone.

Although the word gives associations to witch craft and medicine men, it is rather simple.
In the temperature-example, should I choose to reflect even more upon the explicit
information I have found and actually be able to form a whole about what could be a
reasonable prediction about what would happen tomorrow, I am reflecting even further
than about what has already been articulated. (Davenport & Prusak 1988) A lot of tacit
knowledge would come into play here, for instance in a situation of a football team being
able to get ahead 1-0 and lose 1-2 for the last three games, it is reasonable to predict that
when they score the goal to 1-0, they are still in risk of losing. Had I not known about the
previous four matches (which was explicitly described), I would not be able to predict
such a result. (Appendix 2)

The concept of wisdom is not one we will deal with extensively, though it could be an
interesting point in a more strategically oriented paper, but that is beyond the scope of
the one at hand.

Velocity and Viscosity

In relation to the shareability of information (Freyd 1983) comes velocity and viscosity,
(Appendix 3) which is important when determining how fast and shareable the information
created in an organisation actually is. Davenport & Prusak introduced the concepts of

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Velocity and Viscosity in 1988 in their book “Working Knowledge”, and they are defined
as follows:

Velocity - the speed with which knowledge moves through an organisation.

Viscosity - the richness or thickness of the knowledge transferred.

The model (Appendix 3) shows us Data can be moved quickly, because of its
monophonic nature, though it can also have a bit more context (email) or no context at all
(objective fact). At the same time, there are two different settings for Information that has
to move through the organisation. If it has little context it can move slowly (arranging
data, writing article), or have a lot of context and move quickly (thread on a list-serve,
seeing data from different perspectives).

Knowledge, on the other hand, is context-rich and moves slowly. An assignment such as
“Mentoring” is time-consuming and the mentor has to have a lot of knowledge about the
organisation before he is able to pass it on. The case is the same with a discussion,
though it moves a little faster you would still need to have extensive knowledge about the
organisation. (Appendix 3)

Based on what Bøtter (2008) says, a microblog would contain small pieces of information
that is posted quickly to a wide range of people. There it is safe to assume that the level
of velocity is high when talking about a microblog post, and the viscosity is low. An email
would assumably be longer than 140 characters most of the time and contain more
context, given the remediation (Bolter & Grüsin 2000) from a traditional letter, so it is
reasonable to suggest that if a microblog post should be put into the model, it would be
somewhere near “Research” (i.e. a question: “Is there any coffee left in the kitchen?”) and
“Objective Fact” (i.e. a status update: “On my way to the office from a meeting”).
Furthermore, a microblog post would in Freyd’s (1983) definition be highly shareable since
it is external (articulated, written) information without many emotions. (Appendix 3)

Tacit knowledge & Ba

‘Ba’ is a theory developed in 1998 by Nonaka after the publication of ‘The Knowledge-
creating company’, which aids the four different phases in providing a platform for
creating knowledge. According to Existentialism-theory, ‘Ba’ can be defined as a context
that supports meaning, and therefore ‘Ba’ can be considered a shared space that serves
as a facilitator for knowledge creation (Shimizu 1995:67-69). The shared space can be
either physical (an office), virtual (email, intranet etc) or mental (shared experiences, ideas,
organisation culture, ideals) (Nonaka 1998), and Nonaka argues that knowledge and
context is interdependent, which is why they can not be separated thus embedding the
knowledge in these shared spaces.

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There are four Ba’s that correspond to the four spaces of the SECI model, and they are as
• Originating Ba (Socialization) - physical face-to-face meetings where members of
the organisation can share feelings and experiences which is crucial in the process of
transferring tacit knowledge.
• Interacting Ba (Externalization) - team-based interaction where the individuals’
knowledge is articulated and documented with the aid of metaphors etc.
• Cyber Ba (Combination) - in the digital world it is easy to combine the explicit
knowledge and put it into new systems and categories.
• Exercising Ba (Internalization) - training of members of the organisation by people
who has got tacit knowing a the subject being taught, so the people unfamiliar with
the concepts goes from knowing explicitly about the process to having tacit
knowledge about them.

So Nonaka (1998) argues that for all of the phases in the SECI model there is a shared
space for emerging relationships (Nonaka 1998), a ‘Ba’, in which the knowledge creation
is possible.

In the case of Wemind and their use of a microblog, one could argue that the first Ba that
comes to mind is the Cyber Ba, since the microblog is a digital tool. File sharing is easy
when interacting in a digital environment, but the purposes for which the microblog is
being used are somewhat different. We believe that a microblog fits the Interacting Ba
better, since the characteristics of that shared space fit that of a microblog nicely. The
thing that truly characterizes the microblog’s place in the Interactive Ba, is the ability to
“feel” presence. The microblog’s format encourages the team-members to write about
the small things in the every day work life (“On my way to the office from a meeting in
Odense”, i.e.), so the colleagues feel they get to know the person behind the computer
screen (Bøtter 2008; Weber 2008).

In the Interacting Ba, the interaction is based on teams rather than whole organisations
which is also somewhat the case with Wemind. Even though the whole company uses the
microblog, it is not larger than what could be called a team, since they are only around 12
people. These team-members ask questions on the blog, which are answered by
colleagues, thus making knowledge the answering person did not know they possessed,
explicit. Nonaka & Takeuchi argue that they articulate their tacit knowledge and makes it
explicit, but as we found out in the analysis of the differences between data, information
and knowledge, we believe the transformation that has happened is slightly different. The
tacit knowing that can be articulated is Implicit Knowledge that is being transformed into
Information, since it can be easily multiplied and shared (Davenport & Prusak, 1998).

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The difference between Tacit Knowledge in Nonaka and Takeuchi’s (1995) definition,
Polanyi’s (1967) Tacit Knowing and Nickols’ (2000) Implicit Knowledge might seem like a
play on words, but in our opinion it is important to distinguish the different kinds of
knowledge from one another. Tacit Knowing (Polanyi 1967) is knowledge we can not fully
articulate (i.e. recognizing a face), therefore it is irrelevant to try and create tools for the
retrieval of such. Implicit Knowledge (Nickols 2000) on the other hand can be knowledge
we were not aware of we had, and it can be facilitated with the aid of the right tools.
Furthermore the knowledge that is extracted moves quickly through the organisation
because of its nature that resembles the characteristics of information.

To structure this knowledge we must apply a platform that can facilitate the information
published. This will be done though a social media platform of a kind. Something that can
be integrated into the organisational context and still help facilitating the sharing of
knowledge. A platform that is easy accessible and more importantly can be integrated
into the daily work of the organisational member. There are several highly developed
platforms on the market today and a large part of these aims at aiding the employee into
sharing or finding information, “Employees spend 35% of productive time searching for
information online.” (Morville 2008:15). As an example of a social media platform for this
research we have chosen a microblog adapted to fit the organisation. We will define a
microblog later on.
These platforms are part of the Web 2.0 concept. Web 2.0 was first defined by Tim
O’Reilly 2005 as the way of using the Internet as a mean to enhance creativity, and
information through the collaboration between users, making the Internet the central
We see this Web 2.0 trend in the development of the Internet. Examples of this is that it is
no longer so dominant with personal websites but more focused around people writing
individual blogs where they express opinions about topics of their own rather than
focussing on personal information. A place for people to browse for information is
Wikipedia ( the so called free encyclopedia where
everybody can edit details regarding the various topics etc., as an alternative to known
traditional encyclopedias. The focus has shifted from publishing to participating (O’Reilly
2005). As the user wishes to be a part of it rather than just reading or browsing through a
service or application and this shift influences the demand for knowledge and information
facilitation. When we search for information we wish to interact in that search through a
platform. That is why we have chosen a microblog as a platform example. The microblog
demands that the user participates rather than just publish things might be relevant.
Though one can argue that when many users publish things they actually participate.

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Therefore it is important to stress that by participation we mean the participation on what

is published. In the microblog example they are the different posts.

Definition Microblogging
To be able to define a microblog we first must address where it originates from. As
mentioned earlier we know that the increased focus on personal blogs came along with
the Web 2.0 concept. The word originally stems from web logs or weblogs meaning a
server’s log files and developed to become more common in the late 1990’s (O’Reilly
2005). A typical blog combines text, images and links to other websites and is written
mostly in a very essay style manner ( These blogs is all
part of what is addressed as the blogosphere (Graham 1999) or as Surowiecki (2004)
labels it, the wisdom of the mass. The perception of the blogosphere is that this collective
wisdom will shape the way we perceive things hence the collection is so great and
therefore the wisdom within this is so representative that it transforms into wisdom. That
the blogosphere is a collective intelligence spread out into several small groups of
opinions that all are greater than the intelligence of the individual (Surowiecki 2004). This
point illustrates the influence of the blogosphere and the focus of this.

From this blog format the microblog emerges. A microblog is basically a blog in which the
user is limited regarding the number of tabs allowed. Usually the maximum limit of tabs is
140 due to SMS compatibility. microblogs are used in various groups where the different
posts are assembled in one blog. These groups are formed on different incentives and
can be restricted or open for everyone to view. It can be as with Twitter (
based on the collection of following people chosen by the user or a group based on some
sort of common interest or working project.

When selecting a platform such as a microblog it is done after reviewing several other
existing alternatives and finding microblog most applicable. There are numerous well
developed platforms available fitting our research focus and two of the most compatible
ones is wikis and instant messaging. We found that when aiming at facilitating tacit
knowledge it is important that this facilitation is done dynamically. That means giving the
users the opportunity of replying on each unique post. For this purpose the wiki function
more as an editing tool where each user edit or write something in the wiki. This way the
information typed in the wiki is what is the center. However this way does not facilitate a
direct response from user to user. In the wiki example the wiki will always be the media in
which they communicate and not allowing the individual users to ask questions to
another user regarding something written unless a new media that facilitates this is taken
into consideration.
Our aim is to have a platform that facilitates all of this. The wiki is great at conciliating
information (Bøtter 2008) however the dynamics of interaction between the users is lost. It

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will always be the information written that is at focus, but is not allowing space for small
interventions that might aspire new thoughts or ideas.

To recap the requirements for the platform must be to facilitate the possibility of
interaction based on response on different posts between the users, as well as
conciliating the information making it accessible later on. An instant messaging (IM)
protocol gives space for dynamic response between users however it is not possible in a
structural manner to have more than 2 users interacting effectively. (Bøtter 2008) This
limits the group of users and thereby the forum of which the actual facilitation of tacit
knowledge should go on.
Secondly the IM platform thus being well known and well integrated in many
organisations lack a concrete log function that conciliate the information posted that both
can be easy accessible and give a overview of what is posted. Lastly the IM service does
not have a categorization tool providing the users means of labeling the information
posted and maybe used as a search point for re-finding content later on (Hoist 2008).

We have researched other special developed organisational and project oriented tools
among other the OurHoist application (Hoist 2008) however we found these to be too
diverse for analysis. The aim was to find an application or protocol that was not facilitated
by any software requirements and preferably already developed so that without much
customization could be adapted by a project or group in an organisation. The platform
analysis will focus on how the organisation will be able to structure such a social media
platform and integrate this into various projects or groups and still keep the overall aim of
facilitating tacit knowledge.

Analysis - Reinvention
In this section focus will be on adaptation (Akrich et. al 2002), what elements should be
taken into consideration when implementing a MB and how do these influence the time/
rate of adoption by the users. Blogging has evolved into microblogging, the reinvention
(Akrich et. al. 2002) that combines the shortness of a text SMS and the online
functionality of the traditional blog. Reinvention; something already created being altered
into another version of that object. “affection of the perceived characteristics due to daily
use, and as a result a change in use entirely different from that originally
intended.” (Bouwman et. al. 2005) As an example the cell phone is a reinvention of the old
fixed line phone, the motorbike is a reinvention of the bicycle and so on. It is product re-
creation where the users find new ways of using, through use, and through that change
the original invention.

Virtual thinking
Blogging as described in the Platform section of this paper, has also been reinvented and
the microblog has evolved through that process. Sharing thoughts also known as
distributed cognition (Perry 2003), whether virtual in an online community or in real life

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within an organisation, can both help solve problems, give insights to solutions, but also
provide you with to much information and useless information depending on the person
Online individuals are connected through the internet, and linked together through various
platforms where interaction can be seen as a form of virtual communication and thinking.
Distributed cognition’s “goal is to extract information that system designers require in
order to make better-informed judgements about the information processing requirements
of systems of collaborating agents.” (Perry 2003:204) This is where the microblogging
platform provides the users with a shared space to communicate through. “In shared
problem solving, the collaborating agents must organize an effective distribution of labour
to bring together their individual expertise to resolve their shared problem, and they must
do this by communicating with each other.” (Mayor 2003:209) Within an organisation
microblogging could, as it does at Wemind, function as the tool that allows different units,
key people or different offices to communicate together.

Interessement & Appropriation

“Since the outcome of a project depends on the alliances which it allows for and the
interests which it mobilizes, no criteria, no algorithm, can ensure success a priori. Rather
than speaking of the rationality of decisions, we need to speak of the aggregation of
interests which decisions are capable or incapable of producing.”(Akrich et. al. 2002:205)
The interaction of sharing information between individuals in the organisation is thus more
and more important since knowledge is power (Drucker 1993). Getting the right
information out from the individual and into the collective body of the company is a good
and valuable idea (Drucker 1993). In his article on Information is power, Graham (2008)
states that “though the saying; is an old adage, it rings true in every situation. Information
capture, or knowledge management, is fast becoming the true competitive advantage of
any company. People are certainly valuable resources, and the information they hold is
useful, but far more so if shared with others.” (Graham 2008:1). The challenge then
becomes how do you know what the right information is. Our notion on tacit knowing,
where the tacit knowledge lies in the process itself, taken from the knowledge analysis,
we examine the statement “you don’t know what you know until you need to know it”,
which together with the notion of “designing for appropriation” (Dix, 2007) would be
interesting to look into.

The interessement model (Akrich et. al. 2002) where “the fate of the innovation depends
on the active participation of all those who have decided to develop it.” (Akrich et. al.
2002:208) will be examined in the following section together with, the connection
between appropriation and re-invention, since this will affect the implementation of
microblogging. “Innovation is the art of interesting an increasing number of allies who will
make you stronger and stronger” (Akrich et. al. 2002:205) The interessement model
working much like lobbying in politics underlines the collective dimension of innovation,
where the individuals using the platform or pushing it forward are active. This method
appeals to notion of togetherness that also is created through distributed cognition. More
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on this later. “To adopt an innovation is to adapt it: such is the formula which provides the
best account of diffusion. And this adaptation generally results in a collective elaboration,
the fruit of a growing interessement” (Rosenberg, 1976) in (Akrich et. al. 2002:209). In the
coming section on factors influencing the rate of adoption, the example given by Bøtter
(2008), where a couple of individuals start using microblogging, showed the rest of the
organisation benefits of using the tool, resulting in an interest, and further more to the
adoption of the platform. There could have been resistance from the rest of the
organisation, leaving the innovator “perfectly free to believe in his product to the point of
not wishing to transform it. But he must then show that he is capable of turning resistance
which block him upside down while finding new allies, reversing the force relations which
are unfavorable to him” (Akrich et. al. 2002:211). Since the management and that the rest
of the colleagues at Wemind, thought the idea using microblogging was good, the
resistance to the implementation was zero.

Designing for appropriation becomes interesting since; “Designing for appropriation is

often seen as an oxymoron; it appears impossible to design for the unexpected” (Dix
2007:1). Appropriation and reinvention connect hence both perspectives approach the
transformation made by users of a given technology. “Ethnography's often show that
users appropriate and adapt technology in ways never envisaged by the designers, or
even deliberately subverting the designers' intentions.” (Dix 2007:1) This can be seen in
the blogging example where the individual blogs have been transformed into microblogs
compatible with text SMS. This is also true when looking at Wemind, due to the fact that
“it was a kind of experiment, to implement and see what happens” (Bøtter, 2008). “...whilst
you cannot design for the unexpected, you can design so that people are more likely to be
able to use what you produce for the unexpected – they do the final 'design' when the
need arises.” (Dix 2007:2) giving the creators of the microblog and management at
Wemind pointers in the direction when considering what to design and how to implement

“Above all, the innovation must be taken in hand by an anonymous crowd of active and
interested individuals” (Akrich et. al. 2002:209).

If a microblog is to be implemented in an organisational setting, as a tool of any format,

either to facilitate tacit knowledge or something else, the core and most crucial element of
success or failure is the user adaptation of the innovation. 

One of the unique features of the microblog is that it facilitates openness among users and
sharing of thoughts and ideas across the internet by linking users and their thoughts
together. This makes the microblog a channel for a kind of thinking togetherness, creating
a synergistic effect resulting in the individuals within the microblog being able to
extrapolate knowledge from other individuals. 

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In Nardi's words “it is in the space between these things - where people move from place
to place, talk, carry pieces of paper, type, play messages, pick up the phone, send faxes,
have meetings and go to lunch - that critical and often invisible things happen. “ (Nardi et.
al. 1999:66). If the small interactions that happen throughout the day could be digitalised, it
could be found at a later point, instead of being lost and regarded as nothing more than a
casual remark.(Bøtter 2008) The crucial point for this digitalization of casual remarks to be
recorded, is that the members of the organisation pick it up, adapting it,   and use the
microblog effectively throughout the day. 

Through active user participation the individuals are tied together through the microblog,
which creates a space where things are brought together, creating a feeling of
togetherness   which   as Hutchins (1995) states  “The aim of [distributed cognition] is to
understand how intelligence is manifested at the systems level and not at the individual
cognitive level” is one of the main strengths of the microblog. 

Analysis - Taxonomy
All systems are build around structure that can be formed in many ways. In organisations
structure plays a significant role and though we interact with them every day, we rarely
think about them (Morville & Rosenfeld 2006). Structure is essential to how organisations
operate and is more familiarly known as the hierarchy. This hierarchy influence how the
communication inside the organisation works. However, structure can also have a linear
shape, i.e. a movie where each scene follows the next and the viewer experience them
frame by frame, even though the actual plot can be nonlinear due to the use of
flashbacks, subplots etc. (Morville & Rosenfeld 2006). So to be more general on structure
in an informational context, structure “[...] defines the primary ways in which the user
navigates.” (Morville & Rosenfeld 2006: 69).

When directing our approach towards the informational context, the hierarchical structural
foundation is what is referred to as taxonomy (Morville & Rosenfeld 2006:69) which has its
origin from the biological universe. Taxonomy is used by biologists to arrange different
categories, and the obvious and classical reference is Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern
taxonomy (Hovey 1908). The Linnaen taxonomy is based on the different species in
nature where every organism is structured in a category and several sub categories. The
cornerstone in this taxonomy was that Linnaeus categorised species in a system where
everything fits into different categories as defined by science. It all comes down to the
approach on which the categorization is structured. Linnaeus could have chosen to
structure the species hierarchy according to order of movement and thereby ending up
with a completely different taxonomy. By using the names developed by science Linnaeus
could label each specie with a genus name and a single specific epithet, e.g. Homo
Sapiens (Hovey 1908). This provides a taxonomy with a foundation in science to help the
user navigate.

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An opposing way of structuring a taxonomy is by a cognitive approach (Ungerer &

Schmid 1996). This approach refers to the point of reference the user may have. An
example could be that when thinking of a cat a reference to a category of this may be
mammals as a cat is a mammal. The user may already know that when referring to a cat
there is an implied reference to mammals. The cognitive taxonomy is the individual’s own
categorization of a given content. This is thus unscientific, but the cognitive approach can
still function as universal as a structured categorization (Ungerer & Schmid 1996) hence it
relies on the individual users own common sense. A common sense that already
organises the information process through the human mind due to each person’s
epistemological thinking (Bates 1989:28) - the argument that we all naturally organise the
information process and by that create a sense of navigation. The cognitive taxonomy is
very intuitive and is deeply rooted in the user.

The way in which we can incorporate such a taxonomy into our microblog will be in the
form of tagging (Morville & Rosenfeld 2006:74). Tags are set at every post in order for the
users to categorize the content of the post along with giving the reading users a sense of
navigation. This is the also the only way of structuring the data and information in the
microblog. Tags can function as a reference point when searching for previous
information in order for the users to “re-find” what was posted earlier (Hoist 2008). Tags
may also work for the user to see what the content a given post is about, however, this is
not a primary function (Hoist 2008). When using tags as part of a search function tags
becomes data in the microblog as stated in the knowledge analysis.

In the use of tags in a microblog the user is both giving a tool for navigation but also a
mean to find recent posts. Now the discussion turns to the format of these tags. On the
one hand there is the way of settling on some predefined tags decided by the users
giving a clear common consensus of what each tag stands for. This way the microblog
will have a very rigid taxonomy where the users will know what each tag refers to.
However this requires that the predefined tags will be applicable for all information
posted. A way to ensure this is by letting the tags refer to the situation in which the post
will be used. It is very doubtful that it will be possible to define a number of tags that will
facilitate all information on the microblog without being of such complexity that it will be
impossible for the user to adopt. If the context in which the microblog is used, i.e. a
engineering team, the information posted could have a reference as to where the
information will be used later on. An example could be a post on a certain technology
used in a given project. The tag could then relate to the project and by that given a clear
structure for how to tag such a post. However, it still recites the micrboblog in a very rigid
manner leaving potential un-tagged information unstructured and difficult to “re-find”.

If taken the cognitive approach the tags used is completely up to each user. When
tagging is done in a personal and social manner within a social environment this is
referred to as folksonomy (Vander Wal 2006). “Folksonomy is created from the act of
tagging by the person consuming the information” (Vander Wal 2006:10). This allows each
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user to use their own vocabulary and thereby allowing the identity of the user influence
the way of categorizing giving explicit meaning to the information posted (Vander Wal
2006). This way the tagging sets no boundaries as to what information can be posted
since the user can tag in whatever way they find suited. Despite the flexibility of this
approach it may also confuse the user in the navigation as a post may be tagged with
something a reading user does not find related with the post. On the other hand this
explicit meaning, as Vander Wal argue, may add new views on the information and even
help the user understanding the context the information may be used in. But then again, if
the user does not relate to the tags the user can then tag the post with something can he/
she can relate to.

No doubt that the cognitive tagging is far more complex than the rigid one, but the
cognitive may generate too many tags and thereby confuse on how to tag a new post in
order for it to fit the existing structure. The theory on folksonomies use the collaborative
tagging in order to facilitate the information shared as long as the tagging is done based
on the social environment created by the microblog. It is important to mention that the
collaborative tagging makes it more difficult to re-find given information which as
mentioned earlier is the primary function of using tags. However the cognitive taxonomy
will develop as the microblog become more widespread among the users. We will
therefore argue that the cognitive taxonomy will still be able to facilitate the information in
the microblog along with giving the user the option of re-finding previous posts.

Summary Platform
Compared to wikis and instant messaging the microblog, is the tool that connects users
and information together, through a dynamic interaction between these users. A successful
implementation of the microblog depends on the adaptation of the platform by the users.
The interaction that takes place within the microblog can be seen as the glue that holds
the work related issues together, as the platform becomes anchored within the user and
they therefore get a feeling of togetherness. Furthermore, it is essential that the users of
the platform are able to re-find the information that is posted, which can be enabled by a
collective tagging that functions in a cognitive manner.

Social presence
Introduction Social Presence
Social networks like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter are getting a lot of
attention at the moment. Twitter, for instance, is regarded as one of the networks of the
future with the American blogger Robert Scoble calling it the next email (Scoble 2007).
Facebook, on the other hand, has gained a huge momentum with over 70 million active
users (Appendix 4) worldwide and as of May 23rd, 486,965 people in the network
‘Denmark’ (Appendix 5), which is roughly equivalent to 1/12 people in the whole country.

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People on Facebook uploads pictures, share links and messages on each other’s
‘walls’ (a form of bulletin board found on the individuals profile) and update their status so
their friends can follow their every movement, and maybe get to know them better. This is
what the Finnish Ph.D. student and founder of, Jyri Engeström would call an
“object-centered sociality” (Engeström 2005) - that we socialise around certain objects (in
the case of Facebook it’s pictures, wall posts, status updates etc.), which is picked up by
English blogger and entrepreneur, Hugh MacLeod. He argues that if your (online/offline)
product isn’t a social object, why are you in business? (MacLeod 2007)

So when you become part of the community of a social network, you alter your search
behavior according to the triggers you meet in your interest space. This is what
Björneborn (2008) is defining in his theory of “Serendipity dimensions” (2008), and is
closely related to the ideas of social objects. Furthermore, Weber (2008) talks about how
social networks make people feel present together, and companies should take notice as
to how they can be present as well - both internally and externally. In that regard, there
are some questions that needs to be answered before setting out to create an internal
social network like a microblog, but this will be covered in the section of ‘Presence and

Presence awareness
One of the key features of using a microblog is in Weber’s (2008) words that we “feel
present together”. The microblog is a social medium around which a community is
created for the members of the organisation in which it is implemented, if it is not an open
network for everyone to participate in.

This idea is backed by Jones (1995) in his essay “Understanding Community in the
Information Age”, in which he discusses the nature of online communities and their ability
to give the members of the community a feeling of identity. Because we feel connected
by the computer-mediated communication (CMC) ”it seems, [CMC] will namely, connect
us rather than atomize us” (Jones 1995:220). When implementing the community, which
in our case is a microblog, it is possible to organize thoughts, not only because of
socialization around work-related issues, but also because of the social communication
that happens (Harasim 1993 in Jones 1995:224). This brings us a form of efficient social
contact (Jones 1995: 224), that enables us to perhaps not produce a social space, but
rather reproduce social relations in a virtual medium (Jones 1995:222).

In other words, before the mass media revolution and the world becoming a Global
Village (McLuhan 1962), we formed a community around geographically enforced
boundaries, whereas today we form communities around common interest points. Berger
and Luckmann (1967 in Jones 1995) talks about a ‘social construction of reality’ - that it is
“far easier to understand the physical, or hardwired, connections than to understand the
symbolic connections that emerge from interaction” (Jones 1995:221). That even though
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it is easy to count the cables through which we are connected, the whole forms a greater
sum than the number of connections.

This is also what Bender (1978 in Jones 1995) defines as the idea behind ‘spaces’.
Communities are not defined as physical places, but as social networks that focuses on
the interactions which helps shape the communities. Soja’s (1989 in Jones 1995) notions
of a ‘socially produced space’ lies in conjunction with this, as “spatiality can be
distinguished from the physical space of material nature and the mental space of
cognition and representation, each of which is used and incorporated into the
construction of spatiality but cannot be conceptualised as its equivalent’” (Soja 1989 in
Jones 1995:225).

Basically, the communities can not be seen as physical places (such as the town centre in
a physical village), but as spaces that are created because of the social interaction that
takes place in the medium through which the members interact. According to Moscovice
(2001 in Jones 1995) this ‘social knowledge building’ creates new personal information,
which is in line with the thoughts of Nonaka & Takeuchi about their theories of the SECI-
model and Bas. When you create a shared space, it is possible to create knowledge
which can be captured and then become personal (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995).

Jackson, Yates, and Orlikowski (2007) writes in their article entitled “Corporate Blogging:
Building Community through Persistent Digital Talk” that “blogging creates ties and
enhance corporate citizenship” which is also in line with Weber (2008). When the
members of the team or organisation in which the blog or microblog is incorporated
engage in a continuous conversation, it enhances the ties to the organisation and the
members feel the have a shared space (Nonaka 1998). They feel they know the other
members of the organisation around which the community is created, and when leaving
status updates throughout the day, they create a feeling of presence and awareness of
each other, even though the members may be geographically dispersed (Weber 2008).

This is also the case at Wemind, because as Bøtter (2008) describes it, all of the members
of their organisation are rarely present physically at the same time. However, they post
status updates on their microblog and thus get the feeling of being present together even
when they are geographically dispersed. Therefore it is also safe to assume that these
conditions should be present when implementing a microblog in a organisational context,
in order to facilitate social communication, as this is what could be regarded as the social
glue that holds together the work related posts (Bøtter 2008)

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Search analysis
When we search for information in any given system or application what we end up with
is not always what was in our mind to begin with but nevertheless closely connected. We
formulate in our head a need for a specific information and search or browse a given
directory. In our study this directory will be in form of the MB platform. The point of this
analysis to try and examine these search patterns trough the theory of serendipity
(Björneborn 2008). The theory of serendipity outlines how “[...]convergent goal-directed
behavior can interplay with divergent explorative behavior[...]” (Björneborn 2008:4),
illustrating the close connection between being very focused on what your looking for and
browsing randomly and still ending up with equally representative information.

The first aspect of the serendipity theory is the part about the ‘user’s interest space’
explained in (Appendix 6).
The triangle in the user’s head is centered around (A) which consists of numerous
conscious needs and a large latent interest space. The conscious need is what can be
formulated for the user. Something known and specific. The latent interest space consists
of smaller or larger interests, that responds to the triggers of other information (B-D).
These triggers respond when the user moves or browse through an information space (in
our case the microblog) and encounters options and pointers in this space (Björneborn
2008). When navigating through the interest space there different behavioral types which
both alludes to the behavioral pulse at the top of the figure in (Appendix 6). The two
behavioral types is described in the figure in (Appendix 7). However it must be mentioned
that these two types have to be considered ‘ideal types’ hence it is possible that some
behavioral patterns may fall within the twilight-zone of these two.

Convergent & Divergent behavior

The two are closely connected due to the behavioral pattern of convergent searching. An
example of this is when a convergent search stumble upon supplementing information
this supplement may stimulate a more divergent browsing. “[...]combinations of known-
item searches and browsing, i.e., combinations of convergent and divergent information
behavior.” (Björneborn 2008:3). This illustrates the overlap that we can see in (Appendix 7)
between the two behavioral types. The overlap is not solely related to the point of
supplementation but also with substitute information. An example could be a search for
the band Rolling Stones and in the search results showing another artist i.e. Jack
Johnson reproducing a old Stones number. This may lead the user to search for Jack
Johnson even though the initial search was made for Rolling Stones.
Or as explained by Björneborn 2008:4. “Convergent information behavior may thus
identify central points of information that subsequently function as points of departure for
more divergent behavior.”
To use this in our microblogging case we know that depending on the extensiveness of
the microblog when browsing the different posts the individual user may change the

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direction and behavior according to the information posted. The information may trigger
different things in the search needs presented in the interest space.

“When users move through an information space they may thus change direction and
behavior several times as their information needs and interests may develop or get
triggered depending on options and opportunities encountered on their way.” (Björneborn
2008:4). This means that the user may develop new needs when browsing through the
content of the microblog. Which raises an interesting issue, it is not a must that the
content of the microblog is centered around each user’s need due to the tendency of
transition from convergent to divergent behavior and the representativeness and quality of
the information found in the interest space. However it is still important to notice that in
this transition and in the evaluation of the information found by the user there-in lies a
constant self-negotiation for the user in evaluating the information found (Björneborn
2008). So the information is not necessarily sufficient when based solely on the change in
the search behavior. The user has to find the information relevant and only the user can
determine whether or not this is the case.

The way the user navigates in the microblog is based on the context of the interest space,
the constant transition between the different behavioral types and the user’s self-
negotiation of the information found. These 3 perspectives are the foundation of how a
user will navigate and search in the microblog and how the search for information is

Social objects
The concept of “object-centered sociality” was coined by the founder of microblogging
service Jaiku, Jyri Engeström, in his blogpost from April 13, 2005 entitled “Why some
social network services work and others don't — Or: the case for object-centered
sociality“. He bases his thoughts on especially Karin Knoor Cetina, a Professor of
Sociology at University of Constance, and her ideas regarding objects in the social world.

A traditional social network is based on nodes linked together by ties that can have
various shapes and forms (it could be a match in intangible values, visions, ideas or as
being tied together in an organisation, group etc) (Barnes 1954), and it is such a social
network, albeit digital, that inspired Engeström to write the blog post. Russell Beatie, an
American Web Developer, wrote a blog post about opting out of the social network
LinkedIn (Beattie 2005) as he could not see the point in the network, other than trying to
gather as many contacts as possible, and that was “the game”: “First, though I had 106
contacts, I didn't know most of the people. Neither in person or virtually. What happened
was that at first I invited anyone to link into with me on my blog. That was the "game"
right? He who has the most contacts wins.” (Beattie 2005).

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This is the idea behind the traditional social network anyway, but as Engeström (2005)
argues, you could also see it from a different point of view: “The fallacy is to think that
social networks are just made up of people. They're not; social networks consist of people
who are connected by a shared object.” So instead of the website trying to connect
people and let that be their only motivation for interacting with the website, there should
be something to interact over, and the website should just be the facilitator of this
interaction: “The social networking services that really work are the ones that are built
around objects.” (Engeström 2005)

Engeström comes up with examples of online social networks where the social object
idea is profound:
• Flickr, where people interact around pictures they upload
•, which has become an online bookmark sharing service and successfully
turned URLs into social objects
•, which focuses on (offline) events.
With their microblogging service, Jaiku, Engeström and the other founders created a
social network around tiny social objects (Engeström 2007). One of the arguments of
creating such a service (and tying it so closely together with the mobile phone) is that one
could benefit from a service that facilitated ‘peripheral vision’ (Engeström 2006). With the
example of the baseball player Babe Ruth, Engeström argues that when playing baseball,
hitting the ball is only a part of the game - one should also be aware of what is happening
at the bases, what the opponent is expecting and how your team mates think you will hit.
This is something Babe Ruth was exceptionally good at, and by taking the thought of
being able to tell what the people you are interacting with are doing without the need to
ask them, the mobile client was created (Engeström 2006). The argument is that we all
would like to know what our friends are doing before we call them, so we are sure not to
disturb them in a meeting or when they want to be unavailable. This way the microblog
becomes a facilitator for status updates from you and your contacts (Engeström 2006).

The American blogger and marketing strategist, Hugh MacLeod, picked up on

Engeström’s thoughts on object-centered sociality and takes it even further in his
statement that he believes “Social Objects are the future of marketing” and “If your
product is not a Social Object, why are you in business?” (
Moveable_Type/archives/004265.html). With that being said, MacLeod argues that
everything can be a social object; it can be “abstract, digital, molecular” or “cellphones or
Scotch Whisky or Apple computers or NASCAR or the Boston Red Sox or Buddhism”, as
long as there is a conversation going on around an object, the object becomes social
(MacLeod 2007).

MacLeod has been an advisor for Stormhoek, a wine company from England, and with
him being in charge of the marketing they have five-doubled their revenue. Especially one
thing is essential in this expansion; The Blue Monster (Appendix 8). It is a cartoon that
MacLeod drew on the sticker on the front of the bottle as part of a gig for Microsoft. The
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text said: “Change the world or go home”, so the cartoon became the social object
around which people interacted and talked, and so did the wine.

So, in a company where a microblog is incorporated, there would be the need for people
to have a social object to meet around. In Jacob Bøtter’s words the microblog works as a
“digital water-cooler” for Wemind (Bøtter 2008) - it is the place where people talk about
the project they have at hand presently and what they are doing throughout the day.
Thus, the status update becomes the social object and people in the organisation gain
peripheral vision.
Furthermore, it is used as a place to ask questions if you are in doubt of something, and
your colleagues (who may be geographically dispersed) can answer directly, thus
externalizing implicit knowledge they themselves did not know they possessed, as written
in the first section of this paper. Moreover, the microblog posts act as the social glue that
ties the team members together, since it gives an insight into what the members think,
but would not necessarily share if the microblog was not available (Bøtter 2008).

In our paper on how organisations can facilitate tacit knowledge through a social media
platform, we have tried to outline the issues that needs to be addressed when using such
a platform.

This is done via the collection of empirical material in the form of interviews with
prominent, Danish people in the field of social media consultancy. We have especially
focused on the web consultancy company Wemind. We found out they had implemented
a microblogging platform in their business, and through an interview with one their
partners and founders, Jacob Bøtter, we were able to gain extensive knowledge on the
subject. Furthermore we conducted interviews with the company Hoist who sell a
platform based on wikis and internal blogs and Henriette Weber Andersen from FDIH who
has experience with presence strategies as well as Trine-Maria Kristensen from Social
Square who gave insight as to how companies handle the use of social media.

Before we were able to determine which social media platform would facilitate tacit
knowledge in the best way possible, we outlined what knowledge is. This was done with
the aid of the SECI model developed by the Japanese theorists Nonaka and Takeuchi and
Nonaka’s notion of shared spaces, called Ba. We found that different types of knowledge
is facilitated in different situations, where a social media platform would aid in
Externalizing knowledge rooted in the user. Because of contradicting definitions of Tacit
Knowledge, we chose to use Polanyi’s definition of Tacit Knowing and Nickols’ Implicit
Knowledge, in order for us to differentiate between the tacit knowledge that can only be
demonstrated and that which can be articulated. Furthermore, in our analysis on Velocity
and Viscosity, we determined that when articulated, the tacit knowledge is transformed

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into Information which can move quickly through the organisation, because of its lack of

In the second part of the paper, we focused on determining what characterizes a social
medium and what is required for these to be adopted by the organisation. First we
defined a microblog as opposed to other communication and collaboration tools, to be
able to determine whether or not it would be regarded as suitable for facilitation of tacit
knowledge. We found that this was indeed the case, but the right circumstances need to
be fulfilled such as implementing the platform in smaller teams or groups. In the case of
Wemind, it was the employees themselves who installed the microblog, and since
everybody in the company - including the management - had used a microblogging
platform before, the resistance to the implementation was very low. Furthermore, we
outlined various structures for the content of the microblog and found that the cognitive
tagging, or folksonomy, secured the ability to re-find information when needed. The point
of re-finding information is the main reason of implementing a cognitive taxonomy and
therefor highly important.

Lastly, we focused on how a community in the traditional sense is different from an online
community and whether or not we are able to enable a social space in this. By analyzing
this problem with the theories of Jones (1995) and his ideas on online communities, we
found that online communities reproduce social relations in a virtual medium (Jones 1995)
and that instead of focusing on the number of cables holding us together, the interaction
is what creates the social space in which we engage. Moreover, we found that when
engaging in the social space the members should have a shared object around which
they can interact, and though social objects are ubiquitous, in the case of a
microblogging platform, the object would be the posts made by the members. We also
found that blogging creates ties and enhance corporate citizenship (Jackson, et. al. 2007)
as well as enhance social knowledge creation (Moscovice 2001 in Jones 1995), so the
social media platform acts as an shared space in which Implicit Knowledge (in the sense
that we have defined it) (Nicols 2000) can be externalised and captured.

In order to facilitate tacit knowledge, it is first important to point out that only knowledge
that can be articulated is shareable through a social media platform. Moreover, the
knowledge shared, is bound together by the socialization in the microblog and therefore a
requirement in order for the facilitation of tacit knowledge to take place.

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Appendix 1

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Appendix 2
The continium of Understanding

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Appendix 3
Velocity & Viscosity

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Appendix 4
Facebook active user

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Appendix 5
Facebook Denmark Network

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Appendix 6
Serendipity: User encounter interest space


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Appendix 7
Serendipity: Convergent and divergent


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Appendix 8
MacLeod: The Blue Monster

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