Guiding Principle 4) Extracting Knowledge and Converting (idea creation & development)
A Complete Solution – Merging the Silo’s and Creating Effective Interfaces for Service and Information Exchange
As with previous topics introduced, an entire book could be written on the topic of institutional “silos”. However, for our purposes the main point is to realize that information and knowledge have become, in a term, “locked-up” in institutions of higher learning and agencies that were established to serve the public good. In higher education this issue was first addressed in the Land-grant education model created during the Civil War in the United States. The Extension Service was created, from the laws passed by Abraham Lincoln, with the intent to extend what was learned from land-grant colleges to the public at large. John Campbell was likely the first author to boldly reveal that the “extension” or service arm of institutions of higher learning have not been supported and evolved adequately (see Reclaiming a Lost Heritage: Land-grant and other Initiatives of Higher Education in the 21st Century). The Extension model serves several key functions, but one aspect is to put the institutional endeavors in context – fulfilling the needs of people.
In our observation this “lack of context” or focus on really serving people is how technologies and community development also are undertaken—in a sort of vacuum. In essence, they become isolated in their development with little consideration of how they could advance the ability to extract and deliver the much needed knowledge and technical assistance that communities are desperately seeking, (information, technical assistance) ways to solve the challenges they face.
Diagram 6 depicts the concept of bringing the three “silos” that are germane to our approach into a common domain with the aim to extract the knowledge from the “knowledge silos”, and use the communications infrastructure (Internet) to deliver viable, common-sense solutions to communities, at any scale: city, town, organization, business, family. At this point, our observation is that finding information via the Internet is like sifting through a haystack, although an incredible amount of knowledge is available. We believe that agencies and institutions should be dedicating considerable resources for how to adapt and evolve their knowledge into this “new” communications and delivery platform (by the way, just creating a Web site is not adequate). If they were to evaluate their mission, in the context of the possibilities afforded via the Internet, they would realize an incredible opportunity was open to serve their constituencies - an efficient and cost effective way to accomplish their mission.
A subsequent result of these efforts will be a sort of “co-evolutionary” process between these three “silos”. If the proper methodologies for evaluating performance are created, and specific strategies for improving services are designed, then each of these “entities” ability to utilize the dynamic information and service exchange will be enhanced, further evolving the performance of each domain (or silo).
Diagram 6 shows how we first “extract” the knowledge from the knowledge “silo” then either directly to the constituents (Community Development), or through the Nodal Network, we deliver the information that has been encumbered inside of various institutions (libraries, institutional repositories, etc.). This process is not about converting all books into “digital books”, but in extracting and adapting, in a very deliberate way, the information that will provide much needed insights for constituencies and individuals.
Diagram 6: Merging the Silo’s and Creating Effective Interfaces for Service Exchange