Chapter 6. Taking Culture Online

People and their cultures are adaptive; that has been the story of the human race, and we constantly see evidence of it all around us. The personal computer, the Internet, and the Web have made us invent new ways of seeing and interacting with the physical world through our new virtual world.

We humans have proven over time that we can adapt to almost any condition or situation, and we use technology to make our adaptation easier. We've developed clothing to keep us comfortable in hostile environments. Our cars have eight-way adjustable seats and smart climate controls. We devise ways of interacting with technical gizmos as if they were human. Now we can design online environments that allow groups to communicate in Cyberspace in ways similar to those they use in the physical office space.

Our first five chapters were mostly about people, organizations, and culture because they are in fact the most important factors in the success of a knowledge network. This chapter introduces the relationship between those human entities and the interfaces that allow them to practice knowledge sharing in Cyberspace. We follow this chapter with one focused on the technology tools that work best as components in a knowledge exchange interface. The technical choices and design are important to the flow of information between people. They can block or inhibit that flow just as easily as they can make it possible or even improve it. But we begin by emphasizing a point ...

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