Are Knowledge Management and Social Media at war?

According to Venkatesh Rao in his Enterprise 2.0 Blog post Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War, KM and SM are indeed at war, albeit an undeclared one.  Kind of.

Following a brief history of events that made him come this conclusion, he provides 5 social and 5 technical dimensions of this war:


  1. Gen X is currently neutral
  2. KM is about ideology, SM is about the fun of building
  3. The Boomers don’t really get or like engineering and organizational complexity
  4. The Millenials don’t really try to understand the world
  5. Boomers speak with words, X’ers with numbers, Millenials with actions


  1. Expertise locators are not social networks
  2. Online Communities are not USENET V3.0
  3. RSS and Mash-ups are Gen-X ideas
  4. SemWeb Isn’t Next-Gen, it is Last-Gen
  5. SOA and SaaS are Gen X; Clouds are Millenial

By the time I got to the end of the piece, what came across to me was not that the ideas of KM and SM are conflicting, but that the Boomers, Gen-X’ers, and Millenials all have different ways of doing things.  (More to the point, the article buys in to, and / or reinforces, the stereotype that Boomers don’t want to learn new ways of doing things.)   And I guess I should have expected that, considering the title of the article.

Still, I think that Rao has some excellent points.  If you leave out the generalizations about age, and simply look at in terms of “KMers” and “SMers”, there is much to consider.  At the risk of reaching too far, it is almost like looking at “conservatives” and “liberals”.   (Which, by the way, I think would make for an interesting study, the relationship between KM vs. SM and Conservative vs. Liberal (in the U.S. political sense of the word).)

So what do you think?  Is there a KM vs. SM war based on the generations?  Or is this more of a philosophical question that knows no age boundary?