23 January 2008

sharing knowledge

the concept of 'knowledge cafes' is apparently quite popular in the information and knowledge management field, as i recently discovered. knowledge cafes are basically a group of people who meet to discuss issues of common interest, over a meal, snack or cup of coffee. i assume there are by now countless variations of this, although one of the initial ideas was to have a diverse group of people meet up and participate in small-group discussions for a certain amount of time, after which all but one of the group would move tables and share a summary of their earlier discussion. in this way everyone gets a chance to speak, and you (ideally) get a significant amount of input and discussion.

the idea metamorphosed from the 'world cafe', which is more about dialogue and collective action ('if you can change the conversation you can change the future').

my interest however, is on sharing different knowledge; discussion with a group of people from different fields, with different talents. i recall a long ago conversation where z mentioned having all her friends--comprising of artists, musicians and writers--live in one apartment building, and having them take turns teaching their kids their various talents. or a more recent conversation with colleagues, of how amongst us we can teach our kids numerous languages.

before we get to the kids, we can consider applying this to ourselves. if i look at my immediate circle of friends, they all have their own areas of professional expertise, together with other talents. and yet, we rarely discuss such things. as fascinating as the idea seems, i am not sure how practical or feasible it really is... any ideas/thoughts?

4 comments:

hehehe said...

when can i come over for coffee?

Anonymous said...

meryam, we just organized such a meeting in the framework of our work, can you imagine? i haven't visited your site for a long time and suddently i saw your post on something i participated in just 2 days ago!...strange...:) well, honestly speaking, i did not like the experience. it is supposed to be a very informal thing but we all felt rather uncomfortable...and honestly speaking, our discussion in the 'world cafe' format was much less productive than our regular conversations during the breaks in the kitchen of our office...

md said...

how interesting! tell me more: what was the format, what did you talk about, why did you not like it?

Zahra said...

i'm still serious about the commune idea! i think it would be wonderful.

as for knowledge cafe, i've found that when you sit down intending to have an intelligent discussion, it's far too much pressure and it feels awkward. perhaps it's just me, but spontaneous conversation that ebbs and flows with regards to depth is the very best kind...