Various and Sundry Knowledge Management Stuff

Here’s a slightly focused grab bag of interesting articles that have caught my attention as I explore the field of knowledge management.

Top of the list: June 25, Das E-Business Weblog, Knowledge Management does not exist. Personal Knowledge Management does, by Martin Roell. He writes, “‘Knowledge’ is something personal and only something personal. Once you make it explicit, it’s no longer knowledge: It’s information. We can manage information well, we can build fancy databases and label them ‘Knowledge Management Systems’ but they remain Information Management Systems. And information by itself is completely meaningless.”

Read the rest of the list…

  • The Nonsense of Knowledge Management, an academic paper by T.D. Wilson of the Univ. of Sheffield (UK). From the abstract: “‘Knowledge management’ is an umbrella term for a variety of organizational activities, none of which are concerned with the management of knowledge. Those activities that are not concerned with the management of information are concerned with the management of work practices, in the expectation that changes in such areas as communication practice will enable information sharing.” Gee, this field is looking more and more speculative all the time, isn’t it?

  • History of Knowledge Management in Six Parts, by Bill Ives, Portals and KM. This is a great and fairly comprehensive basic backgrounder to the KM field, going back as far as papyrus and cuneiform – but it doesn’t really challenge the orthodoxy much. “This serialized work attempts to puts the current state of knowledge management in context, providing a brief historical overview of knowledge management and communication media, and offering a framework for examining issues based on cognitive psychology. Key questions and challenges are offered at the end of most sections.”

  • More from Bill Ives: In Managing Personal Information and Knowledge: Tom Davenport, Ives said that according to KM guru Tom Davenport, “The average worker spends three hours and 14 minutes a day using technologies to process work-related information – more than 40% of an eight-hour workday. The tools and technologies designed to make life easier often have the opposite effect and consume too much of an individual’s time and energy, he said. There is a significant opportunity for organizations to save time and money by focusing on managing an individual’s personal information and knowledge environment. As a result, KM strategies should focus on managing personal information and knowledge within the organization.” To this, Ives observes presciently, “Seems like a great opportunity for RSS and blogs.” What can I say but, YES!!!!! (There’s a longer write-up of Davenport’s address at the American Productivity & Quality Center.)

  • And also from Bill Ives, some observations on knowledge management in the developing world. The World Bank, he notes, is “looking at knowledge management as a way to assist developing countries and publishes a knowledge index to help countries evaluate where they stand in the use of electronic knowledge assets. Many people …have commented that the big challenges are not technical but social and cultural.”

  • The information snowflake – Consuming, collating, commenting, collaborating and creating (by Peter Bailey). “Inspired by Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb, I’ve created an information snowflake, which represents the facets of the user’s experience when acting on information. “ (Thanks to Jack Vinson for this link.)

  • In The Power of Context, Julian Elve expands thoughtfully on my earlier article, Context: How Arranging Ideas Spawns News Ideas.

  • Knowledge Management or Mindplay? This article by Michael Knowles is an excellent complement to a piece I published earlier today, What Do We Know? The Great Info-Knowledge Debate. He observes, “I live off intuition. I gather data and trust my higher mind to select and prune for me. I don’t want to rely upon a tool to tell me what it think I should be interested in based on my past experiences when I’m looking for relationships in a pile of amorphous data.” Ah, intuition – another favorite topic of mine, of which I will undoubtedly be blogging more in the future.

  • Knowledge Mismanagement On a slightly different but still related note, yesterday’s Secrecy News pointed me to Removing Knowledge, a paper by Peter Galison. SN wrote about this paper, “Author Peter Galison, a distinguished historian of science at Harvard, reviews recent classification practices and then asks what epistemological assumptions are implicit in the act of censoring, or classifying, particular items of information. The classifier, he suggests, relies on a discredited ‘atomic’ theory of knowledge. ‘…Communication – at least meaningful, verifiable communication – cannot be rendered into a sequence of protocol statements,’ Galison writes.”

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  2. Davenport on Personal KM
    Tom Davenport recently gave a talk on managing personal information and knowledge. His ideas connect very well with those that I spelled out in my paper “Distributed KM” about using…

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