more dichotomies: information vs knowledge and trust vs efficiency

This week two blogposts made me wonder whether we try to fix quickly by help of technology, more precisely social media, what is actually rooted in rather complex behavioural issues.
Harvard Digital Natives
‘ site discussed the celebration of shared knowledge, while ethical issues in the context of plagiarism did not remain untouched. Is it OK to make use of the teacher’s resources if found accidentally on the web? Where are the boundaries of intellectual property being copied unacknowledged into an essay and what defines a novel intellectual product? What constitutes new anyway – and who defines it? ‘Sharing is caring’ in a mark-based competition-driven world? Does the generation Digital Natives really buy into this? And if not to the extent we would hope to see, then what can we do to improve the attitude?

Neville Hobson on the other hand looked at the findings analysed by Forrester Research which state that “corporate blogs rank at the bottom of the trust scale with only 16% of online US consumers who read them saying that they trust them”. Trust building and efficiency are corporate key aims in today’s shaky markets – but is anyone still wondering why they have gone lost in the first place? And when exactly did it happen?

It is not just financial institutions and governments which need to rebuild trust and seem to have little idea as to how to manage this. Students and pupils around the world might soon be among those who need to prove that they are trustworthy – if they don’t refrain from the temptation to copy&paste their works like a patchwork blanket in ‘the old days’, then who can trust them once they are tomorrow’s employees and managers of those institutions which we have just bailed out?

The risk/reward balance needs to be restored, rethinking the tendency towards blamegaming and secrecy are key to the development of policies, educational and economic systems that are sustainable. New social media can play a major role in exactly all this. But placing all trust into these technologies without distinguishing carefully between coherent knowledge production and pouring information bits onto the public 24/7 will cause an increase in ignorance, if not even more harmful practices.

Transparency contributes to the wider social benefit. Efficiency and trust-building measures post-crises must be informed by a sense of responsibility. Ethics need to be given a much more central role in curricula, they seem to linger in a corner where they gain dust rather than attractiveness. Ethics and social responsibility must become more than nice yet halfhearted labels in corporate PR-strategies.

Isn’t it time to ask what means we have to get back on track and find knowledge production in a holistic manner more rewarding than piecemeal bits of information, no matter how efficient the latter may appear in our hectic and profit-driven days? Isn’t it time to think about trust in a more cohesive way and produce comprehensive strategies that prove sustainable in more than one field? That would include pupils as tomorrow’s voting citizens as well as corporations as collective citizens within the wider public.

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About Britta Bohlinger, CFE

Founder and Director of RisikoKlár in Iceland. Native German, global perspective - previously in London and Berlin.

One response to “more dichotomies: information vs knowledge and trust vs efficiency”

  1. jayprich says :

    There is a similar effect in financial markets where “efficiency” as an economic concept is the speed with which new information is absorbed and reflected in the price. High speed communications themselves are not to blame but the ease with which unattributed rumours are spread amongst trading participants has highlighted even quite reputable, stable and long sustained trust networks are open to abuse … trust/influence status becomes an indirect form of pricing power, relatively cheap to obtain … conflicts of interest cannot be eliminated and full transparency actually has undesirable side effects. Age/experience tends to be the best antidote to over-reliance on untriangulated data … but Madoff is a case where reputation can be bluffed successfully for years to many old experienced professionals.

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