I find the concept of knowledge mining fascinating and exciting. According to Nussbaum (2013) “knowledge mining” is important because it allows one to combine, mix and “mashup” several different experiences into one new learning experience. Nussbaum introduces the concept by giving an example of how Apple founder, Steve Jobs, “mashed up” the concepts of calligraphy and programming when creating the Mac. This is a perfect example of how two completely unrelated topics resulted in creating something new, innovative and valuable.
Nussbaum (2013) says “you’re not born with the great ability to connect dots. You learn it,” (p. 62). I couldn’t agree more, as I find it challenging to connect the dots, even though this is a buzzword phrase that my employer uses frequently. One of the required skillsets for many roles at my company is an ability to “connect the dots” but certainly those “dots” can vary. My “dots” include running, lifting weights, cross-stitching, Tetris, cooking, writing, corporate communications, ‘80s children’s books and Disney. How do those dots connect? It’s interesting because there are definitely times I see crossover in my interests and I’m able to connect the dots between my hobbies and professional interests.
Nussbaum (2013) describes “donut knowledge” as “the ability to see what isn’t there,” (p. 67). In my experience, working in corporate communications requires a lot of “donut knowledge”. I must always think about issues and questions that don’t currently exist. An example I just encountered today was writing a sensitive communication regarding an information security incident that occurred at a peer company. I had to anticipate what questions we may receive at my company and see what wasn’t there. If we say, “we haven’t yet experienced any issues as a result of this event,” are we communicating that we haven’t “yet” experienced a problem, but we may? Will that cause more questions regarding our vulnerability? If I say, “as a result of this event” does that lead the reader to believe that we are experiencing issues, but not just due to this event? I must always think about what I’m saying with the words I’m not saying and employ “donut knowledge” to see questions, concerns and issues that may not be there.
My “magic circles” include my classmates in this program. I am surrounded by extremely talented individuals and I’m lucky to learn from their experiences and wisdom. Just as Nussbaum (2013) says, a donut knowledge strategy is to “bird the birders”, which is an analogy for surrounding oneself with those better than they are. I feel like I’m around those more talented than I in this program. Additionally, I am attending a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) conference this fall to “bird the birders” and be surrounded by other writers, publishers, agents and those in the industry that are extremely talented. The conversations that those are having in these circles are about the changing industry of children’s book publishing, the effect of Common Core on children’s books and the challenges of being published in traditional publishing houses. By collaborating with others in the industry, we are able to learn from each other and leverage best practices.
I plan to knowledge mine as it relates to my connectivity topic (how a children’s book author can promote his/her work through Twitter) by following existing conversations on Twitter on publishing, promoting and writing. I plan to join in on Twitter conversations, visit SCBWI forums and speak with other writers. I also can use my experience in both my hobbies and professional background to help connect the dots and bring my own personal experience to the table, so I can find how I can make a difference, personally. As a result of this class, I’ve signed up for the SCBWI writer’s conference this fall so I can continue to learn from industry professionals and further my knowledge in this area. I’m excited to learn more.
Nussbaum (2013) says that our beliefs about the world are influenced by “frames”, in which we may or may not be aware. Gregory Bateson, a British anthropologist, studied monkeys within his sociology field of research. He developed the term “frame” based on the set of expectations that monkeys display to signal if their behavior is “play” or “fight” (as cited in Nussbaum, 2013, p.88). Nussbaum provides a great example of the application of a “frame” based on Picasso’s redefinition of what is considered art. During Picasso’s time, one didn’t think of “art” in the deconstructed manner in which Picasso composed. He literally reframed art by influencing what is frame-worthy. In today’s world, there are many “frames” that we work within, whether we realize it or not. Just today I was interviewing a candidate for a role on my team and he had an extensive background in creative roles at companies such as Marvel. He had even written a comic book for children suffering from a life-threatening illness to help them find relatable ways to understand their illness. The amount of creativity in that role is tremendous and I was in awe of his experience, however my question for him was “would he feel limited in creativity given the restrictive frame at our company?
As Nussbaum (2013) provided the experience of the students reframing the chemo experience, one should take the key stakeholders viewpoint and experience into consideration. I would recommend conducting a focus group to truly understand the reality. One can create a new frame only if they understand the reality of the current frame.
Kelley, T. and Kelley, D. (2013). Creative confidence: Unleashing the creative potential in us all. Pages 94-103.