The Web Portfolio in the Knowledge Worker Age
As a product, tool, learning agent, and appearance of the information society, I feel Web portfolios are becoming an important technological instrument for social change in a person’s capacity to gain work for hire in the information driven society. When we speak of electronic portfolios and specifically of Web portfolios we are really focusing on information.
Gathering information, massaging informa- tion, organizing information, classifying information, correcting information, and presenting information in an electronic form is really the guts of the Web portfolio, or any portfolio. The narrative that evolves out of the information and the visual and textual components that illuminate that narrative allow an unlimited venue for publishing creative thoughts.
This is a powerful concept that will become a standard feature of the information society. What will the role of the electronic portfolio be as the evolution of the information society continues? The prospects of Web portfolios becoming an important agent for social change are possible. A universal e-portfolio trend will guide people into joining the information society and increase knowledge management in everyday life.
Think about it, having an identity on the Web will be critical to financial prosperity and to electronic and public appearance. The Web portfolio will allow people to tell their own stories through dynamic mini narratives that will interweave their personal and professional lives into a global medium that can enable unlimited opportunity.
Their stories, presented electronically, will become part of their public appearance, appeal and ultimate success. The narratives that engage the world from the Web portfolio platform will not only be based on facts and exclusive perspectives, but will be driven emotions as well as data. The Web portfolio spike of the future will be a direct result of the emergence of what Dr. Stephen Covey describes as the “knowledge worker age” (2004, p. 5).
In the knowledge worker age, Covey states that their will be a movement towards creating human capital, both social and intellectual, that will supersede the wealth creation movement by focusing on people rather than money (Covey, 2004). A major communication vehicle and personal marketing tool that will tell peoples personal career stories will be the Web portfolio. Ultimately, knowledge work enables innovation which translates into money. Money can be acquired through persuasive communication through multiple media. Telling people about skills can yield work for hire opportunities to use those skills.
The knowledge worker is characterized by a high degree of information centered skills that reinforce their abilities to live and thrive in what Dr. Covey calls a “permanent whitewater, a constant state of change and in a rapidly evolving electronic environment” (Covey, 2004, pp.104-105). Based on literature review of postmodern information society theories, I believe the personal identity, communication vehicle that will emerge in the turbulent electronic networked environment will be the Web portfolio.
The Web Portfolio as the Postmodern Appearance
In the historical shadow of McLuhan’s notion of electronic media being an extension of the central nervous system, I feel the Web portfolio will, in time, become the appearance and identity of the knowledge worker in postmodern global societies. The Web portfolio in its development stages and existence can be described as new media art. As art and art making, and as a communication medium, the Web portfolio is not a private experience, it is a public experience, as demonstrated by the notion of an appearance.
The Web portfolio is a public experience which opens up new opportunities for communication and public discourse. In her web design tutorial Postmodern currents: Art and artists in the age of electronic media, Margot Lovejoy (1992) quotes Anna Couey on the radical new options provided by new media in the postmodern world: Postmodern art is characterized by its involvement with new media which cross traditional boundaries between art and life.
This is manifested in such trends as crossover, populism, and performance. The significance of postmodern art is in its move away from private aesthetics, and personal expression and representation, toward an actively communicating public aes- thetic. The appearance of Web portfolios will metaphor the appearance of people in everyday life. Some people are polished and some are sloppy. Many people tend to be organized, many are not.
Some people have sense of style, other do have one or don’t care. Those personal attitudes and behaviors will be evident in the Web portfolio. Overdoing it also will be evident in the bad Web portfolio world. Inside these bad Web portfolios, content will be overwhelmed by wasted and distracting interface components.
Overzealous creators with little or no design background will provide a mess of blinking, lime green, midi playing, grammatically horrific, and unsuccessful Web portfolios. But, it is a start. Revisions of the Web portfolio is common, so redesign is inevitable, hopefully improving during each cycle and through the evolution of technologies that help take the design knowledge out of the looking good equation.
Things like templates and customizable applications will allow people to create wonderful Web portfolios simply by uploading content. The Web portfolio will be completely in the future, meaning that handheld, mobile devices will deliver Web portfolios to people on their PDAs, cell phones, laptops, and iPods. People will promote themselves and tell their story electronically. Interpersonal communication transactions will be complemented by visits to a person’s Web portfolio during the interaction.
This ability to promote and persuade by telling your story digitally will be critical in work for hire situations. Hiring people will want to see and hear the narrative of the knowledge worker. This narrative, and its delivery success, will be important to the outcomes of interpersonal activities. The Web portfolio will extend into social realms as well.
The everyday acceptability of online dating and meeting people through the Internet has shown that social communication is going to change with the growth of Web portfolios. An online dating service is basically providing a digital narrative of each client. In this realm, each client is equal in stature and is presented by his or her own perception of themselves, thus presented categorically, based on gender and preferences.
Online dating gives a person an appearance within the digital medium. Online dating provides a social communication that uses a Web portfolio system. The user’s goal while using the online dating service is to persuade someone into initiating contact which may lead to a fruitful relation- ship. The Web portfolio has the same goals.
The Web portfolio is consistent with the online dating concept in that it is conceptualized, built, and delivered to persuade someone to act. The fact that the truth may or may not be present does not matter. Ultimately, the medium becomes the message and credibility may be assumed because of the virtues of the visual elements and the electronic delivery system.