Learning Economy research: What is universal internet social literacy and what can we do with it?

To those reading, I’d like to invite your personal participation in, first, an Australian, but ultimately, an international study on the subject in the title.

And to this, I’d like to add a little more flavour, based on something I’ve just seen.

In its Leading a 360-Degree Digital Transition, management consultancy Bain writes:

Many describe digital innovation as a wave, which implies that once it passes, everything will resolve to a new normal. But we see it as a tide that is in constant and powerful flux. Hyperconnectivity; massive, cloud-based computing power; streams of data tamed by predictive analytics— all are colliding with trillions in investment capital to produce a new era for business, characterized by constant innovation, the prevalence of predictive analytics and dramatically accelerating cycle times.

We are each now part of this great tide, and through this undertaking, I wish to identify, interview and bring to wider attention the thinking of visionaries, thought and opinion leaders, academics, business and professional discipline specialists and any others I may have missed from this list whose insights have the capacity to lead their industries and communities, locally and overseas, in answering the headline’s question.

From what I find out, I intend to publish here, of course. But I also intend to put together a book, a series of media features across a range of outlets, and a subscription email newsletter that further fuels my investigation. As interesting issues and questions come up, I will in turn feed these back out to the audience to develop this enquiry.

Please note also that this is only a starting point, and that there is much more I would like to discover, especially in respect of the organisational learning strategies (or otherwise) of companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, or ASX.

So, let us begin.

The background

As our use of and familiarity with using the social internet grows, we may have reached an age of unprecedented opportunity in driving forward the collective intelligence of the communities in which we live and work.

If this is the first time you’ve been here and read this, the premise of the following, however, is that no collection of individuals, whatever its purpose, can put to best use knowledge it can neither reach nor organise. Making collective sense of our emerging surroundings is just a beginning.

And at whatever stage your own business is, to achieve this, it needs its knowledge working harder, because when knowledge is not joined up, companies leak competitive advantage, money and value.

For investors, knowing what a company’s minds are capable of is simple organisational intellectual hygiene.

Although it may sound like hyperbole, against this, in a post-Facebook world, every organisation now has access to the most powerful, connected management force for human-centred change the world has yet seen.

We can describe this as “universal internet social literacy.” 

Essentially, everybody now knows how to use social media to write online, upload and share material and to make comments about those items uploaded by others.

Our ease of communication online enables us to encounter, tease out and bring attention to many more, often unexpected, ideas.

This fluency is now native to every employee in every business, and to every socially internet literate customer.

When such communications are in writing, those documented thoughts, ideas and wishes can be summarised and reported on.

Because its output is written and can be edited, this literacy can be used to record what is known, to investigate further and to direct what can and must be learned.

Thus, editing focuses the collective mind on what management believes matters most, and to report what it chooses and how it is told.

Reports guide both action and enquiry, so management now can tap with purpose into diverse perspectives and intelligence that was previously both unknown and unreachable.

Anything considered worth exploring further can be pulled aside and tested in greater detail.

Offering the control to focus employee awareness and creativity, workplace internet social literacy contains an unprecedented intellectual energy simply waiting to be activated in a business’s favour.

And, available to every organisation are also the mirroring internal, Facebook-like private technologies required to transform any business’s knowledge into management action.

Thus, the raw human resources and refining technologies already exist and just need to be brought coherently together.

In applying their combined force, management now has access to an unprecedented, constantly renewable and inexhaustible resource, whose creativity may be limited only by its imagination in what it asks for.

By capturing collective knowledge and working together in productive, thought-out and well-designed collaboration, we can find better ways of doing pretty much anything.

And, with diverse and distributed minds working collaboratively in unison towards a greater goal, connected at digital-network speeds, the network-driven learning and change this will spur will become an unstoppable force in reshaping our world.

So, how would you use it to change yours, and what greater breakthroughs might you, or we, achieve through it?

Issues for research

Among the questions I wish to ask are:

  • In your mind, what are the hallmarks of the socially internet literate customer?
  • What are the implications for businesses, your own or others, and how should they anticipate and organise their response to them? 
  • What do you believe to be the implications of pervasive internet social literacy for you, your company and community?
  • For what could/would you use it in the organisations you run or are associated with?
  • To what uses do you think it could be put in society, beyond those organisations?
  • What else do you think this universal literacy could achieve?
  • What previously wicked problems could it resolve?
  • Whose ideas about internet social literacy would you like to hear most?
  • What would you most like to know about the learning habits and internet social literacy-driven learning strategies of the companies you might invest in?
  • What else might you like to learn that I haven’t covered here?

I’d be keen to take responses to these questions initially in writing, or, perhaps, by interview, either on (named) or off (anonymously) the record. I would be happy with either (subject, of course, to the quality of the insight I am being given).

I am also especially keen to understand the perspectives of those working in key Australian businesses in disciplines related to organisational learning, about what internet social literacy can do for them.

Nevertheless, if you can contribute in whatever way gives you greatest comfort, that would be great, and I look forward to your responses and to hearing from you.

Please address any other questions to me at graham@thelearningeconomy.com, or via LinkedIn.

And if you wish to know how your business might more effectively manage its own knowledge using its own collective internet social literacy, find out how to develop its own workplace Wikipedia here.

Who am I?

By background, I am a former sub-editor (an editorial sense-making and quality control role) on the pages of the Australian Financial Review newspaper group at Fairfax Media in Sydney.

I also have an MBA (Technology) from the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The forward-looking focus of that qualification is on creating and managing the organisations of the future, both driving and in response to changes in technology.

Through it, my professional experience, my skills and other related study, I discovered a fascination for documenting and transforming knowledge to drive social organisational and community learning, for its many applications, using the best technologies ever invented for the purpose.

Thanks for reading.

Graham Lauren