Online Dissertation as Critical Action: Dewey and Freire both recognize the importance of communication and social interaction to complete education. It is not enough that we parrot the formulas of rigorous dissertation writing for brief attention one afternoon before a committee followed by filing onto a forgotten library shelf. The dissertation should be a living, interactive document, connected to and continuing our conversations. The process of writing this dissertation online, publicly, serves that goal and declares to academia, “This is what our communication should be.”

Self-Destruction? This open online dissertation also serves to inform and shape the community I study as I study it. By the time I have completed this particular document (if I can use the word complete in any conventional sense), by the time the committee and anyone else read it, the object of study will no longer be what it was. I talk about something that no longer is exactly what I describe… and that is partially my fault, this document’s fault. The document represents and contributes to the dynamism of the object under discussion.

Shared Perspective of SKM and SPN: Supporting social knowledge management requires that we access reason, intellect, values, intuition, and love, which in turn requires moving away from strictly quantitative research to make room at the methodological table for qualitative, participatory research (Laszlo and Laszlo, 2002, p. 405). This perspective supports my approach to the study of blogs as organic social knowledge management as a researcher who actively participates in the South Dakota blogosphere and writes about that experience in scholarly personal narrative.

What Problem Are We Trying to Solve? Laszlo and Laszlo (2002) establish the importance of social knowledge management. Carrying out SKM requires a large-scale effort that transcends the boundaries of individual firms and organizations. Who then should carry out SKM? I address the question of whether a self-organizing community or communities can effectively contribute to SKM. If amateur bloggers, without shared affiliation to a unifying organization, can effectively capture, share, and perhaps even discover social knowledge, then we relieve the burden on formal institutions (media, schools, tech firms and non-profits) to conduct that effort. If a grassroots, uncoordinated effort cannot effectively capture knowledge for social benefit, then we know that carrying out Laszlo and Laszlo’s vision of social knowledge management will require more formal efforts organized by KM experts.

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