[...] I realized that few people outside individual projects really follow the progress of other research projects. As companies grow and as the amount of information generated increases, fewer people have time to read the literature or are able to personally interact with those outside their particular program. This results in isolated projects, the inability to stay current, and the repetition of effort. Information flow stagnates, knowledge is only fitfully created and poor decisions get made due to lack of knowledge.
The following report looks at research describing how knowledge is created from information. A unifying principle in much of the work is that people must interact to create knowledge. Simply examining a database can not do it. Information must be dispersed in order for knowledge to be created. A company has some hope, then, if it can create an environment that fosters personal interaction. This is easy in small companies but becomes much harder as they increase in size. Luckily, technology may help attack this problem, providing a way for people to interact much more efficiently, allowing much larger groups of people to come together to create knowledge.
Next April there will be a conference on reputation in online communities in Cambridge, Massachussetts. The call for papers makes it look very interesting. It starts thusly:
The production of trust is an important requirement for forming and growing open online communities. Online reputation reporting systems, such as eBay's well-known feedback mechanism, have emerged as an important trust building mechanism in such settings. The rising practical importance of online reputation systems invites rigorous research in this largely virgin territory. Do these systems truly promote efficient market outcomes? To what extent can they be manipulated by strategic buyers and sellers? What is the best way to design them? How should buyers (and sellers) use the information provided by such mechanisms in their decision-making process? This is just a small subset of unanswered questions, which invite exciting and valuable research.
In order to answer those questions, collaboration is needed between several traditionally distinct disciplines, such as economics, computer science, marketing, law, sociology and psychology. In each of those communities, researchers are actively working on aspects of reputation systems and their work has been well received within their own disciplines. Some researchers have described part of the design space of on-line reputation mechanisms. Others have employed game-theoretic analysis of the conditions under which reputation mechanisms should work, despite strategic behavior on the part of participants. There have been many empirical studies of whether reputation affects price and probability of sale at eBay.