Laszlo and Laszlo (2002) lay the groundwork for my understanding of and interest in social knowledge management (SKM). They envision social knowledge management as a logical advancement from an organizational focus on information and knowledge (know-what and know-how) supporting internal business goals to broader knowledge and wisdom (know-why) supporting global social goals. While Laszlo and Laszlo acknowledge that social knowledge management can support economic benefits, they focus on moving beyond competitive advantage for individual firms and supporting economic development for entire regions and the global community (p. 409). In the most direct terms, Laszlo and Laszlo’s profoundly democratic research agenda calls for a “big picture” knowledge management that equips all of humanity with greater access to existing knowledge and expands humanity’s ability build new knowledge and meaning in response to economic, environmental, and political problems.

Laszlo and Laszlo mention something about methodology that is relevant to this dissertation. Supporting social knowledge management requires that we access reason, intellect, values, intuition, and love (I still have difficulty mentioning that last term without appending an exclamation, or at least arching an eyebrow), 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.

Researchers recognize social knowledge management as vital to fostering innovation in local and regional economies (Gertler and Wolfe, 2002). Gertler and Wolfe note further that making SKM work requires a civic culture that develops both from “unplanned and uncoordinated” historical development of “networking and interaction” and by “conscious efforts by civic and business leaders.” SKM requires social capital:

The use of the term capital indicates that it involves an asset; while the term social connotes that the particular asset is attained through involvement with a community. The existence of social capital depends upon the ability of people to associate with each other, and the extent to which their shared norms and values allow them to align their individual interests with the larger interests of the community (Gertler and Wolfe, 2002).

Blogs fit neatly into social knowledge management in the creation of social capital, especially in a rural region like South Dakota, where individuals living in small, dispersed towns can use online technology to discover and associate with others who share their interests and values.

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