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Disinformation, defined as the purposeful dissemination of false information intended to mislead or harm others, has become common due to the mass adoption of social media. Disinformation may occur when someone uses authentic material in a deliberately wrong context to create a false impression. Disinformation can take the form of fake news sites deliberately designed to look like well-known sites. Disinformation can also include outright false information distributed through graphics, images, or videos.

The Nonaka and Takeuchi model of knowledge management has its roots in a holistic model of knowledge creation and the management of “serendipity” and can be adapted as a tool for assessing the impact of disinformation. Nonaka and Takeuchi have argued that a key factor behind an enterprises’ successful track record in innovation comes from the more tacit-driven approach to knowledge management. Nonaka’s four modes of knowledge conversion could be used as a tool for assessing the impact of a disinformation campaign. The four modes are the process of socialization (tacit to tacit knowledge), externalization (tacit to explicit knowledge), combination (explicit to explicit knowledge), and internalization (explicit to tacit knowledge).

Socialization, which consists of sharing knowledge through face-to-face and social interactions can be used to access the impact of information (disinformation). Under socialization, the information first remains in the minds of the original recipients. Those having the information then share it with others and arrive at a mutual understanding through brainstorming. Those with the information can then develop new ideas to either flag the information as disinformation or agree that it is authentic before the information is spread to a wider audience. Socialization can slow down the spread of disinformation because it is time-consuming to disseminate all knowledge using socialization.

Externalization can also be used to assess the impact of disinformation. In this mode, individuals with the information can articulate their knowledge and know-how and, in some cases, the know-why to the information. To access the impact of the information under externalization, a knowledgeable person can be employed to interview an individual (with information) to extract, model, and synthesize it in a different way (format, length, level of detail, etc.) and thereby increasing its scope so that a wider audience can understand and apply the content of the information.

The third process, combination (explicit-to-explicit), the process of recombining discrete pieces of explicit knowledge into a new form. It can synthesize information (disinformation) into a review report, a trend analysis, a brief executive summary, or a new database to organize content. Combination occurs when concepts are sorted and systematized in a knowledge system.

The last process, Internalization, which seeks to convert or integrate shared or individual experiences and knowledge into individual mental models, can be used to assess the impact of disinformation (information). Once internalized, new knowledge is used by people who broaden it, extend it, and reframe it within their existing tacit knowledge bases. The people understand, learn, and buy into the new knowledge, and this is manifested as an observable change in the way they work or act.