Who should you go to for the best information? And how much do you want to share your information?
Those are some of the essential questions about knowledge management that continue to be asked both by researchers and by executives. Those questions have become particularly interesting in the past five years with the rise of social media that makes it faster than ever to share information and easier than ever to reconnect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people from your past.
Marshall Van Alstyne, associate professor at Boston University and a visiting professor at MIT, is in the thick of it.
“My original training was computer science, followed in grad school by managerial economics at Yale then MIT,” says Van Alstyne. “I studied information productivity, social networks, and information flows in organizations to see if we could figure out what it is that makes people more productive.”
Van Alstyne ran a five-year National Science Foundation study, tracking information flows and e-mail and what makes individual knowledge workers more productive. He also does research on platform economics, what he calls “the creation of ecosystems involving lots of users and developers such as the platform developed by Apple.” Lately, he’s at work on a new study funded by an NSF grant on the creation of knowledge marketplaces.