Networking Reconsidered

Jan 05, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Hegel and Seely Brown get it partially right and partially wrong in this look at network strategies. The part they get right is critical: they reject "classical networking and schmoozing, driven by individuals intent upon prying business cards out of others and relentlessly expanding their contact lists," focusing instead on networks based on "intense curiosity, deep listening and empathy that seeks to understand the context that other person is operating in." But what they get wrong, I think, is the nature of this interaction. It's not about finding common ground, working collaboratively, or 'acquiring' tacit knowledge. Rather, it's about putting yourself into a position where you can have (even if vicariously) similar experiences, leading oneself to become similar to the other person (which is why it is so important to choose one's associates with care). Tacit knowledge, remember, isn't declarative or even procedural. Rather, it is more like 'having a feel for', and each person develops this sort of knowledge individually.
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