Reflections on Knowledge Management

What I have learned in my Knowledge Management (#UOKM) course..

by: Melanie Desmarais


Knowledge management, a concept developed in the academic world by Ikujiro Nonaka, is not a new phenomenon. The scholar and philosopher Pierre Lévy uses the figure below to illustrate that we have been preserving knowledge or (symbols) for a long time, beginning with the scribal era. Then came the ability to read and write followed by the era of Gutenberg, when the printing press was established. This allowed us to further preserve our knowledge through systems of reproduction and transmission. What is new and ongoing is the transformation from a typographic to an algorithmic civilization, where knowledge is preserved automatically and digitized. Since this type of preservation means that we are left with large sets of data, it further proves the important task of organizing the knowledge and information for ourselves and the other internet users.

Source: Professor Pierre Lévy

The course that I was very fortunate to follow with professor Pierre Lévy was Knowledge Management. This course takes a modern approach from the traditional university learning methods by integrating the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook group created a space for open discussion between colleagues and with our professor, as well as giving us access to our course material. Twitter allowed us to maintain and organize our class notes, by tweeting about our mandatory readings and the most intriguing concepts from the class lectures and discussions.

This blog post will explore the many different ways, from my point of view, that knowledge management can benefit individuals through the concepts of curation, collective intelligence and the possibilities of self-sovereign identity offered by the blockchain technology.


Curation, is the ability to sift through large quantities of data and information and only retain what is true and significant to the user, and categorize it. These categories become useful for ourselves and others (in the case of open source websites) when searching for specific information. As stated by Lévy in his article, the importance of collaborative data curation is becoming very significant in many domains such as heritage conservation, social sciences, collaborative learning, production and broadcasting, open-source initiatives and most importantly, in knowledge management (2016). When we would tweet in the context of this course, we would use the hashtag #UOKM, allowing us to build a collective memory on a specific topic. Hashtags can also be understood as a form of metadata, that is defined as “organized information that describes, locates or otherwise makes it easier to find information” (Jacikevicius, 2016).

Source: 5 Elements of curation in social leadership (Stodd, 2016)

Collective Intelligence

According to Lévy (1999), collective intelligence is “a form of universally distributed intelligence, constantly enhanced, coordinated in real time and resulting in the effective mobilization of skills”. Essentially, this means that if all internet users properly collect and manage their data, the level of cognitive capacity will increase, for everyone. Lévy (2016) indicates that this is a form of collaborative learning, that is occurring in real-time. This is the case for open-source services. For instance, platforms such as Research Gate and Mendeley are created for scholars, who showcase their past and ongoing work and allow other experts to ask questions, or have them suggest comments throughout their research. In fact, in the field of digital humanities, the intertextuality between information and social sciences, Morris and Stommel (2014), state that we should be placing the “emphasis on individual and collective agency”. For instance, they use the concept of “hybrid pedagogy”, which is “interested in making important scholarly work accessible and shareable” to depict the need for collaborative and a participatory space (Stommel, 2014). Finally, as stated by Geoff Mulgan, collective intelligence is beneficial because “every individual, organization or group could thrive more successfully if it tapped into a bigger mind – drawing on the brain power of other people and machines” (2017).

Blockchain Technology

The most interesting form of technology that I learned about in this course was blockchain technology. It is a very complex system. But what is it? According to Saga Briggs (2018), blockchain technology can be defined as a “database which stores permanent blocks of information, such as a transaction history, to be shared with a particular community”. If individuals become the holder’s of their transactional history, this will have a large impact on all third-party organizations, who are currently the link between the service and the individual. What is problematic is that our sensitive personal information is localized in many organizations, and is not necessarily secure. Briggs (2018) provides the example of going into a bar and having to provide your drivers license to prove your age. The reality is that the bartender only needs your photo ID and proof of your age, not all the other information on the card. Our personal information is in the hands of a few powerful social actors. With blockchain technology, it is time to put the individual in control of their personal information.

 While blockchain technology will have an impact on many industries, the one that is the most fascinating for me is the change to self-sovereign identity systems. It can be understood as the individual having “ownership over their personal data and control over how, when and to whom that personal data is revealed” (Duffy & Smolenski, 2017). In his article, Windley (2018), proposes four essential attributes for an identity system to be self-sovereign. The system must be persistent, meaning permanent and ongoing, and have the infrastructure built for both individuals and organizations. It must be peer-based, meaning the system must have a collaborative feature. It must be protected and controlled by the owner of the information and shared only how they see fit. Finally, it must have the ability to be mobile. This is a technological advancement that can be difficult to understand but that I find very interesting. I will be sure to follow it’s development over the years to come.

Photo: Self-sovereign identity system.

Last words

As we can see, through the concepts of curation, collective intelligence, and the advancements made by blockchain technology and self-sovereign identity systems, they are providing more agency tools for the individual. We have more power in the form of organizing, evaluating and categorizing than ever before. However, with power comes responsibility. As a result, Pierre Lévy has put an emphasis on the importance on verifying multiple sources and points of view before making conclusions. After all, if we begin to share incorrect information, this becomes part of our collective memory, and then we might all be misinformed.


Briggs, S. (2018). Blockchain Technology: Can it Change Education?. Retrieved from

Duffy, K.H., Smolenski, N. (2017). The time for self-sovereign identity is now. Retrieved form

Jacikeviccius, J. (2016). Introduction to metadata. Retrieved from

Lévy, P. (1999). Collective intelligence: Mankind’s emerging world in cyberspace. Cambridge, Mass: Perseus Books.

Lévy, P. (2016). La curation collaborative de données. Retrived from

Lévy, P. (2016). L’intelligence collective, en quelques mots. Retrieved from

Morris, S.M., Stommel, J. (2014). Hybrid pedagogy, digital humanities and the future of academic publishing. Retrieved from

Mulgan, G. (2017). Collective intelligence as humanity’s biggest challenge. Retrieved from

Stodd, J. (2016). 5 elements of curation in social leadership. Retrieved from

Windley, W. (2018). How blockchain makes self-sovereign identities possible. Retrieved from

#KnowledgeManagement #Curation #CollectiveIntelligence #SelfSovereignIdentity

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