Quora’s Q&A format is interesting, but Knowledge aggregation will continue to happen in places like Wikipedia
A friend of mine asked me a couple of days ago… “I observe a lack of inquiry in SM, have you noticed that? There are a lot of statements, positions. Not so much inquiry”.
Yes, that is true. Partially, it is because many use social media as a broadcast channel. But there is a more profound reason why explicit questions don’t emerge as often in Social Media.
The classical media generation learns in introspection. When we communicate and interact, it is to exchange knowledge. I tell you what I have learned before, I learned from what you did. Q&A is the mechanism that drives that exchange.
In Social Media, conversations are less exchange and more interaction
In Social Media, communication are less exchange and more interaction. Social Media (as well as direct rich interaction in real life) differentiates from Classical Media by allowing collective knowledge and idea co-creation.
While Q&A can still be useful, making incomplete statements with an open mind is more conducive for collaborative participation. The idea is to expose thoughts before they are well-formed and let others influence it.
Are you hot or what?
Marshall McLuhan stated that different media invite different levels of participation. So, for example, a movie or a realistic painting invites passive immersion and absorption, they are complete or “hot”. A video-game or abstract painting requires the active participation of the audience to convey the message, they are open or “cool”.
Accordingly, a question asks for well-thought answers in hot language. Open thoughts invite participation by others and co-creation. Social Media dialogs use cool language.
Time will tell, but I am more Wikipedia than Quora
Why did the Open Source Software movement or Wikipedia became so successful leveraging the Internet and Social Media to aggregate knowledge? In my opinion, it is because they were able to primarily harness collaboration in an open environment.
I have not spent enough time in Quora to claim full understanding. But the current content is more answer- than question-driven. Questions are just the excuse for people to express their personal, well-formed positions. Yes, there are efforts in creating collaborative, wiki-like mechanisms, but the “choose the best of several” dynamics is still dominant
I am very skeptical of a Q&A format effectively harnessing the power of Social Media to aggregate and express collective knowledge. Time will tell, but my bet is that if I want to ask a question, I will type it in the search box. And invariably, the best answer will be in Wikipedia, not in Quora.