Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Weblogs and knowledge management

Another stream of recent posts has focused on weblogs as a tool for knowledge management both to capture and share knowledge. They include a mix of posts focusing on individual knowledge workers and on knowledge workers within organizations.

Lou Rosenfeld, author of the excellent Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, has a good post on blogging k-logging.

Dave Pollard has generated a great set of posts on weblogs as knowledge management tools. His weblog in general has become a must read for me.:

Blogs in Business: The Weblog as Filing Cabinet
Weblogs could be a mechanism to coherently codify and 'publish' in a completely voluntary and personal manner the individual worker's entire filing cabinet, complete with annotations, marginalia, post-its and personal indexing system.
A Weblog-Based Content Architecture for Business (this post also has some excellent diagrams of how weblogs fit within the entreprise)
The fundamental difference between this and traditional enterprise-wide content architectures, is that knowledge under this model resides with and is controlled by the individual. The knowledge of the community is simply the sum of the knowledge residing in the weblogs of the community members (within any shared categorizations the community members decide to establish, and pushed to other community members by the weblog's 'subscription' functionality. The knowledge of the enterprise is simply the sum of the knowledge residing in the weblogs of all employees, made accessible through the weblog's publishing and subscription functionality, using the tools present in the weblog itself. Theoretically, depending on the robustness of the company's networks, the Intranet could be slimmed down to nothing more than a set of organized links, with no actual 'content' whatsoever.
Blogs in Business: Finding the Right Niche
Weblogs can be effectively pitched to senior management of major organizations by explaining how they help solve the six problems:
  • They make contributing knowledge simpler, easier, and more automatic
  • They make it easier to update knowledge on a timely basis
  • They make knowledge more context rich
  • They allow the authors of key business knowledge to build and retain 'pride of ownership'
  • They make contributing knowledge more fun, since it becomes more like 'publishing'
  • They make contributing knowledge more fun, since it becomes more like 'publishing'
  • Each individual's 'collection' of shared knowledge is easy to define and assess at performance evaluation time
  • They make knowledge easier to route, to 'subscribe' to, to canvass and to 'mine'
    • Dave Sifry, creator of Technorati, and Doc Searls did a piece for Linux Journal on Building with Blogs. One key excerpt:

      As weblogs account for more and more of the traffic in knowledge about a given subject, they become powerful instruments for hacking common wisdom. In many categories, they are moving ahead of mainstream journals and portals and building useful community services where over-funded dot-com efforts failed spectacularly.

      Sébastien Paquet adds a piece on "towards structured blogging" where he starts to think about how to begin adding a next layer of metadata to collections of weblogs.

      Right now what we have, globally speaking, is pretty much a huge pool of blog posts, each implicitly tied to a particular weblog author and with a date slapped on.

      Donald Luskin makes the following observation in his weblog (pointers courtesy of Scripting News and Roland Tanglao)

      At the dinner table I explained what a blog is. There was the usual polite, partially feigned fascination with anything having to do with the Internet. But when I said that blogs have completely transformed my utilization of media and the way I acquire information about the world -- that I basically get everything from blogs now -- everyone stopped being polite. One fellow at the table was utterly shocked that I would trust any information I acquired online. I asked him if he trusted information he got from politically biased mainstream newspapers like the New York Times, or for that matter, from any commercial media biased toward at least some degree of sensationalism, if not some particular political view. I asked him if he had ever, once, read a newspaper account of some event of which he personally had expert or eye-witness knowledge, and found it to be accurate. I asked him he had ever once been interviewed by a reporter who quoted him accurately or in context, or who didn't already have the story written before the conversation even began? Well, no, he had to admit... but still... "...not the Internet! You can't be serious!"

      Roland is always a source of good observations and links about blogging in knowledge sharing and knowledge management contexts. Some recent commentary via his blog include

      Blogging is too difficult but it will get better. Like I always say we are at the VisiCalc stage of blogging. Compare and contrast Excel and VisiCalc; lightyears better and people in 2003 understand spreadsheets. Same thing will happen with blogging; we need years of experience and iteration to get from the VisiCalc of blogging to the Excel of blogging.

      and this pointer to Value Creation by Communities of Practice

      Blogs encourage cross-functional disruptive thinking.
      I read a great quote that, like a magnet of meanings, pulled together layers of my thinking into a surprising pattern of possibility. Here it is: "Here is the paradox: You need a great team of people with diverse skills to perform a symphony well, but no team has ever written a great symphony! ... While cross-functional teams are key players in defining and implementing incremental innovation projects, cross-functional disruptive individuals tend to be key players in defining radical innovation projects."

      That should cover it for tonight, although there are still a bunch of good posts on this topic filling up my aggregator.

      11:35:55 PM •  • comment  
      Weblogs in Learning Settings

      Good series of recent posts on weblogs as a learning tool both for individuals and organizations. Here are ones I consider worth visiting and revisiting.

      Stephen Downes - More Than Personal: The Impact of Weblogs. Good overview with a learning perspective.

      Sebastian Fiedler on the use of weblogs as personal webpublishing systems to support self-directed learning:

      I want supportive technologies with a high degree of freedom. Technologies that can be twisted and tweaked, that can adapt to my changing purposes and interests, that can grow with me over time. Personal Webpublishing systems are a big and important step into that direction. After all, I own that freaking publishing space and I can experiment as much (or as little) as I want.

      James Farmer offers two interesting posts on how to use weblogs to create a learning management system (and Part Two)

      Sebastian Fielder had a interesting post last month about the general idea of Learning Webs that builds on this observation by Ivan Ilich:

      The planning of new educational institutions ought not to begin with the administrative goals of a principal or president, or with the teaching goals of a professional educator, or with the learning goals of any hypothetical class of people. It must not start with the question, 'What should someone learn?' but with the question, 'What kinds of things and people might learners want to be in contact with in order to learn?'

      When you start to think about learning as plugging into a network of resources and people, it's pretty clear how weblogs have a critical role to play.

      Finally, from the Distance Education Online Symposium mailing list comes a nice post on weblogs in education (courtesy of David Carter-Tod)

      10:15:17 PM •  • comment