Knowledge is Power
If knowledge is power, then community knowledge is even moe powerful. Blogging is a great way to illustrate and practice community knowledge. I’m not talking about displaying your knowledge of a community, but using the community of blog readers and commenters to make the entire community more knowledgeable.
Blogs=Communities of Knowledge
I recently wrote a post about the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 REvealed, wherein I highlighted a downside to the change in capital gains tax rates. The post was widely linked to and over 30 comments came in about the findings. Then at comment #31, a reader brought to light some exceptions I had overlooked. Linda Dvorak deserves a ‘community knowledge award‘ for digging deeper than I had and unearthing some great insight into the realities of the law. This type of knowledge sharing is invaluable to a blog’s community.
Scientific Methods of Blogging
Blogs are like social science experiments. I had put forth the characterizations (observations, definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry) and the hypothesis (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject). I even went deeper in the method by providing predictions (reasoning including logical deduction from the hypothesis or theory) and tests (tests of all of the above).
However, I left out one critical step to a science experiment..RETEST. Fortunately, a blog’s comment section is the perfect forum for retesting. Now, the community has a greater knowledge of the new law and we all owe it to each other for pushing forward, questioning hypothesis and retesting the experiment.
My wife will be proud I used the Scientific Method in a blog post (she taught 7th grade science and kept a blog before becoming a mom 3 months ago), but she’ll be disappointed that I failed to retest my earlier work.
Does your blog foster a community of shared knowledge?
Sources used to create this post: Wikipedia, Agent Genius, The Power of Science
August 18, 2008 at 8:55 am
I read that post with great interest. The comments leading to Ms.Dvorak’s comment and the resulting conclusion were indeed an education. It is exactly this knowledge which keeps me coming back to AG and other sites where I know the converstaion will become a learning experience.
August 18, 2008 at 9:00 am
The lesson to be learned is to do more homework before publishing.
August 18, 2008 at 9:44 am
@Bob it’s hard to do more research when you are one of the first to write an opinion on the topic. Since my original more analysis was made around the web. It is the blog format that allows for information to be delivered ‘as it happens’ and corrected or ammended as more data comes online.
Blog writers, readers, and commenters all contribute to making the community better. Otherwise, we’d just write white papers and static web pages.
August 18, 2008 at 11:51 am
Brad, I agree with your post. I feel the community self corrects. Sometimes when we read something in print like a newspaper or magazine, we may automatically take it as the truth because we “think” the writer has done their fact checking before it hits the press. In today’s world of blogging, we have the opportunity for the community to bring to light some inaccuracies in a story and help all involved to get the facts straight which is a great thing.
August 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm
Blogging is more editorial than journalistic. Bloggers aren’t full-time professional reporters. They are people who have a career and do blogging as part of that career. As such, the facts aren’t always going to be perfect, which is totally understandable. The author is correct too that the blogger, in effect, relies on reader comments to add to or correct the post. The news gets it wrong more often than any of us know. If we could comment in response to a news broadcast or a newspaper article, we would see quickly how often they get it wrong.
August 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm
That is not understandable and it should not be acceptable.
That is an irresponsible approach. Want to lose credibility fast? Stick to that philosophy. That attitude just reinforces what many think about blogs – just people with a soap box who don’t care about getting it right.
I disagree with this on all fronts. A blog simply allows one the ability to self publish – it doesn’t relieve one of the responsibility to be accurate and then depend on a communal fact checker system.
August 18, 2008 at 6:32 pm
Bob, I don’t see us ever agreeing here. It’s a difference in thinking, nothing more.
Blogs are not just a self-publishing platform (there’s Frontpage for that), they are online community builders where shared knowledge is greater than one person’s individual knowledge. It’s easy for this turn into a 1.0 vs 2.0 debate and for those type of things I point you to Wikipedia (another community generated knowledge base).
Therefore, based on your goal of absolute facts, I don’t have any suggestions for you to read at all. Books, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, white papers, etc… all have errors. The problem with those errors is that it takes weeks or longer to see a correction (usually tucked away on a table of contents page or something similar). However, in a blog setting the corrections are made real-time by more people than just the publisher/author/editor. I could go on, but I think we are heading to ‘agree to disagree’.
August 19, 2008 at 12:29 am
Brad, you misunderstood my disagreement.
This wasn’t an example of the wisdom of crowds or a collective knowledge base that solved a problem. You rendered an opinion on a complex legal and tax issue where the facts were in the 600+ pages of the bill. The other sources that you couldn’t research because you were among the first to market made their analysis on the same available facts. This wasn’t a situation where the facts changed or were revealed over time. It was just someone pointing out a mistake and then citing proof when you argued that she was wrong.
August 19, 2008 at 5:16 am
There is no doubt that what was discovered in the ‘exceptions’ portion of the bill changed the number of people that will be effected, however it did not change the fact that our government added a new tax that went unnoticed by traditional media. Our blog format allowed me to present the original finding of the new law’s (with acknowledgment to Dan Green for first turning me on to this) hidden tax. Assumingly drawing attention to this issue where the comment section allowed others to add the exceptions and clarifications as more research became available. The way I see it, this is an example of the wisdom of crowds at work. If the original author got it right or covered every angle every time, then all the comments on blogs would read “great post”, “good job”. I understand your point and wish that I had covered every exception and detail in my original post, but I am thankful for the blog format to allow the community to share the collective knowledge. We are all better for it. If I had written the same article in a newspaper, no one would ever have learned of the exceptions.
August 19, 2008 at 6:20 am
Thank you Brad for an excellent post. I am spending more time teaching people what RSS means than anything else. Once people get the RSS concept for posts, I can then take them to the RSS of comments.
Blogging is an excellent form of collaboration for brokers, organizations and associations. I highly recommend creating a wiki for JUST the facts. My favorite is WetPaint. The wiki will address the facts, the blogs will handle the opinions.
In speaking with large brokers and associations they do not want to pursue the blog concept because the liability of the comments, fear of political favoritism, and imputed knowledge in those states where it exists.