What Is Knowledge? Who Creates It? Who Possesses It? The Need for Novel Answers to Old Questions

  • Aileen OeberstEmail author
  • Joachim Kimmerle
  • Ulrike Cress
Part of the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Series book series (CULS, volume 16)


This chapter provides an overview of both traditional and more recent conceptualizations of knowledge. It also aims at identifying shortcomings of each of these conceptualizations in the context of mass collaboration. Philosophy has traditionally conceptualized knowledge as “justified true belief,” whereas psychology tends to consider it mainly in terms of semantic memory. What both traditions have in common, however, is an individualistic focus, which emphasizes that knowledge is located within people’s minds. But this individual perspective reaches its limits when considering transpersonal phenomena like collaborative knowledge construction and mass collaboration. More recent approaches have taken social aspects of knowledge-related processes into account. We present some of them briefly and discuss them with regard to mass collaboration settings. Finally, we present a systemic view of knowledge as an attempt toward a synthesis of individualistic and social perspectives, which might be more suitable for mass collaboration scenarios.


Collaboration Mass collaboration Knowledge Social conceptualizations of knowledge Systemic view of knowledge 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aileen Oeberst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joachim Kimmerle
    • 1
  • Ulrike Cress
    • 1
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, Knowledge Construction LabTuebingenGermany

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