Why Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid … or Smart, by Chad Wellmon is a very good look at our relationships with knowledge, how we codify it, and how we connect to it.

Only at this macro-level of analysis can we make sense of the fact that Google’s search algorithms do not operate in absolute mechanical purity, free of outside interference. Only if we understand the Web and our search and filter technologies as elements in a digital ecology can we make sense of the emergent properties of the complex interactions of humans and technology: gaming the Google system through search optimization strategies, the decision by Google employees (not algorithms) to ban certain webpages and privilege others (ever notice the relatively recent dominance of Wikipedia pages in Google searches?). The Web is not just a technology but an ecology of human-technology interaction. It is a dynamic culture with its own norms and practices.

A key idea here is that our actions are much more important than any technology. One group that has developed new norms for knowledge-sharing is the software development community. Dave Weinberger talks about public learning, what I call learning out loud (LOL), in this video where he describes how developers are “learning in a way that simultaneously makes the environment smarter”.

Dave’s video is his contribution to the Adidas blog carnival on a new way of working and learning.

John Stepper describes working out loud as the most practical way to start online collaboration.

Confused about what to write? Simply post about what you’re working on every day. Who you’re meeting with. The research you’re doing. Articles you find relevant. Lessons you learned. Mistakes you made.

The form factor of short posts that are easy-to-skim make this kind of narration practical – for both the author and the audience.

This reinforces my three key principles for net work: narration, transparency, shared power. By changing our norms and practices, we can use the Internet in ways that are best for people, workplaces and society. But first, we have to be engaged.