Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Context over Content!

I love, love, love when concepts and data can be displayed in an easy-to-grasp way for those of us who are visually inclined!

Here is a great example from Valdis Krebs\ of well done graphics -- but also a 2x4 to the head in terms of explaining a key tenet of social media:  context is more important than content!  It's a hard concept to convey sometimes, especially to old school database type people who still espouse the "Content is King" approach to IT. You can tell people, a statement may be true, but if I hear it from Anderson Cooper, I'm gonna give it a lot more weight than if Maury Povich is sayin' it.  But you see this graphic and you GET it.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


KM, or Knowledge Management, was a huge concept that turned into an empty buzzword in the mid-'90's.  The ideas held promise but no implementation ever really succeeded in delivering on that promise.

Recently I read an article by a colleague that got me thinking about KM again.  It says, in part:

Knowledge is always bound to people and impossible to digitalize. It's bit confusing Machiavellian challenge, as soon as knowledge is captured in a system it becomes information. This means that, "knowledge management" IT systems are not really managing knowledge but information.

So it seems we can either return to embracing Information Technology (accept that it's "only" information and deal with it appropriately) or embrace the person who HAS the knowledge (ostensibly via social media) and build systems to support that person. 

There's a whole group of folks out there who think social media should divorce itself from the IT department in medium-to-large organizations. This, I think, has more to do with traditional dissatisfaction with slow, lumbering, untimely IT department delivery of services than it does with whether these two are a bad fit.  Rather than limber up the IT folks (which, I grant you, takes work), just pitch all that infrastructure, forget about integrating, who cares about support, and to hell with security.  Short-sighted at best.
But let's say we get a receptive IT department that wants to provide social media outlets to users.  What's out there that makes sense?  Given the instinct to press forward instead of look back (despite Glen Beck's best efforts to the contrary), I ask you, which social media systems really support you, the person, in such a way that your knowledge is better used?  I'm puzzled by this.

Twitter\Facebook-style status updates are too brief to convey a lot, don't generate new information (unless it's aggregate stats on following or topics) or facilitate knowledge (other than managers wanting to know what their employees are up to).  Blogging has its uses, but might be a distraction from work, depending on what you're charged to produce.  Wikis?  Yes, I get why wikis are helpful and work-related, but how do you get folks to contribute and edit regularly?

I recall that the best KM "solutions" of the past included Affinity systems -- profiles of workers and the topics they're expert in + search engines that gave individuals credit for those topics they've published on.  That base of information combined with weighting and searching allowed others to search a topic and find not only the articles, but also the authors\experts.  I think this is a darned fine, quite clever idea.  I'm not sure why this single piece, all by itself, didn't survive the KM collapse.  Knowing that people aren't likely to update their profiles or to be entirely honest\accurate about their expertise (both on the bragging AND the downplaying side), a system that collects this information and uses it to help shape searches later is brilliant. 
This!  would help people find experts faster without annoying those experts by bugging them with electronic reminders to update this, update that.
Could we please have our Affinity engines back?

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