Are There Keystone Species in Information Ecologies That Might Affect Knowledge Management Processes  Essay

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Keystone Species

In mid-1800's, telegraphy was invented. This invention was revolutionary because it decreased all the hurdles in communication of information. This type of invention or any innovations that connects two or more people and acts as a survival tool for a particular group i.e. ethnic or technological group is known as Keystone specie. Even though Specie is a term mostly used for living organisms, here in a larger context keystone specie is referred to as "a system of people, practices, values, and technologies" that is essential for the survival of anything. (Johnson, 2010)

The keystone species concept has been a mainstay of the ecological and conservation biology literature since its introduction by UW zoology professor Robert T. Paine in 1969. His seminal paper extended the conclusions of a field experiment published three years earlier. The research resulting in the keystone species concept was done on Makah Tribal lands on the outer coast of Washington State, with the Makahs' permission. It involved the sustained removal of a single predator species over a three-year interval and documentation of the resultant changes. (Keystone Species Hypothesis, 1996)

The result was the same as expected, other species slowly died out as a result of it. In the early history of the world, Dinosaurs ruled the world and humans were just living in caves. But after their extinction, humans were ruling the world. Keystone specie with respect to humans can be classified as "Any living thing that is responsible for the survival of other species is Keystone specie. (Keystone Species Hypothesis, 1996)

There are many mammals which are the threat of extinction but because of human efforts these animals are now considerably safe from the threat of extinction like Panda and others. The Humans are not only keystone species, but rather its inventions or innovation is something that classifies humans as keystone specie per se. The nature also acts like keystone specie with ice age and the regular intervals with which it strikes back.

In modern times, the concept of keystone species can be used for many phenomenons which can be used for number of things. There are types of technologies that work as keystone species and sometimes people as an individual act as Keystone Specie. The issue is with particularity of the keystone specie with reference to information ecology as what can be classified as information ecology and what can't be.

Nardi and O'Day define information ecology as "a system of people, practices, values, and technologies in a particular local environment.

Here, a system of people could denote the hierarchy in the workplace and any rebellion in the hierarchy can ultimately dissolve the whole system; practices could mean an ideological system which has been put in place for example, the dictatorship in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where its people have the approval for such system but inside they are fed up with their way of system or the government of George W. Bush which Americans were fed up with but accepted the presidency after Al-Gore didn't go to case over the election of 2000. Those years as the years of a democratically elected president; technologies can refer to social networking sites such as twitter or facebook which have now become a necessity for everyone and when referring to facebook, 10% of the world's population now used facebook to interact with others.

Nardi and O'Day were particularly encouraged by the promise of such enabling technologies for connecting people in meaningful social arrangements, often through activities that, when viewed from outside a given information ecology, might seem mundane or even trivial. They argue that "people communicating their own thoughts to other people [online] is heartening," and that "not every human interaction has to meet a high intellectual standard"

According to Nardi and O'Day in my perspective, encouraged that people shall be able to interact with each other on the basis of everyday doings and not on the basis of their intellect, one must get used to the fact that the intellectual or intelligent level of two person is never the same but there is always a common ground for them to interact. Let's examine facebook for the sake of an example, as mentioned above people interact with other through the use of facebook, families, friends, celebrities uses it for their own benefit. Nardi and O'Day's definition of keystone specie will clearly fit into the concept of face book. (McNely, 2010)

Additionally, the incorporation of social media, while intentional and significant, was not pervasive. But more importantly, phatic gestures and tummeling represent the kinds of activities that can actually drive the sustainability of public information ecology, since the writing work involved in these activities may serve to establish and strengthen ties among members. (Nardi & O'Day, 2004)

Being formal is not something that is common among all humans, they way humans act is a lot different from person to person. Although there are religions, cultures and ideologies that bind us together but in the long run all humans are different from each other. (McNely, 2010)

Information travel from person to person it could in the form of written information or it could be in the form of verbal communication, more or less sometimes paper would be a keystone specie and sometimes internet would be keystone specie.


The most prevalent emergent code describes blog posts, videos, and micro blogging updates that are predominantly informative. For example, 14 of the 29 conference-sponsored blog posts can be termed "live-blogging," where the member creating the post offers virtually no editorial commentary and simply describes, as best as possible, the content delivered by a particular speaker in a particular session. (Nardi & O'Day, 2004)


A code particularly prevalent in conference-sponsored blog posts and videos was termed informing/selling. In these instances, the content could be seen as primarily informative, but the information provided seemed to be deployed in a way that "sold" the dominant organizational identity narrative. (Nardi & O'Day, 2004)

Here, the social networking is not limited to facebook but also includes sites such as Wikipedia or answers. Here, people have the liberty to write or edit anything they like and turn the facts in a way that suits them and wanting to impose their ideology on others. This concept is selling the idea or informing others about your ideologies. When we come back towards facebook, flirting or poking someone is to sell your love or affection or informing the other gender about your felling towards them whether positive or negative, that is totally up to the person.


Tummeling, therefore, denotes activities sparked by a "conversational catalyst within a group, [someone] to welcome newcomers, rein in old hands and set the tone of the conversation" within a given online community. (Nardi & O'Day, 2004)

In facebook, people send invites to other people to establish new friendships or keep the current one's stable or re-establish link with old friends with whom contacts could not established because lack of communication.

Statuses can also be classified as Tummeling, as in the Nicks won the game by huge margin against another team. People write their statuses updating each other and congratulating Nicks and its fans. This is tummeling by which one person sets the tone for the entire conversation.


Phatic gestures in online communities such as Twitter are designed not to be informative, but to express social connections and understanding -- even feelings of solidarity or connectedness. (Nardi & O'Day, 2004)

The like button in facebook is not something that was placed there for no apparent reason, but with the ideology of Keystone species, like was used a phatic gesture. For example, if a person posts his picture on facebook wall and he get few likes on the pictures. This would be classified as phatic gesture.


By observing participant activities and…

Sources Used in Document:


Johnson, S. (2010). Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. London: Penguins Books Ltd.

Keystone Species Hypothesis. (1996). Retrieved September 24, 2011, from

McNely, B. (2010) Exploring a Sustainable and Public Information Ecology, S.Carlos, SP, Brazil.

Nardi, B.A. And V.L. O'Day (2004) Information Ecologies. Chapter 4 in Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

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