posted 25 May 2010 in Volume 13 Issue 7
Where two worlds collide
Jan Wyllie introduces the first of a two-part series on information organisation with comment on the relationship between KM 2.0 and social media
Today, the frontier of human productive capacity is the power of extended collaboration – the ability to work together beyond the scope of small groups using the new tools of collaboration. ‘The Moment Social Media Became Serious Business’, Harvard Business Review, Jan 19, 2010
Creative confusion: A world in flux
Even after all these years I suspect that, like myself, many people still have lots of questions to ask about what Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and, of course, KM 2.0 are – and what the 2.0 means. No doubt the terms are also afflicted by the universal curse faced by knowledge managers, which is that they are liable to mean different things to different people.
Fortunately, doubt and uncertainty are essential parts of the new world of knowledge, which is emerging through the combination of new virtual connection technologies and new, less ideological ways of thinking.
There are two characteristics of KM 2.0 and social media – the profile of which are pretty clear:
1) Knowledge is no longer conceived as locked away in documents with the only key being retrospective retrieval. It comes from a non-stop multimedia flow, where the important nuggets need separating from the waste in real time. If you have to search for it, then it is liable to be already too late; and
2) Professional knowledge cannons are complemented (or is it swamped?) by user generated content and knowledge flows.
Collective technologies: Towards collaborative intelligence
There is also no doubt that a new generation of online software has been crucial in what is widely perceived as a step change in the way people relate to each other.
The first wave (2.0) was software designed to help people to manage and co-author documents, share files and organise virtual meetings. The second wave (about 2.3) enables users to create their own knowledge flows from both materials of their own making (blogs) and of bookmarked items (with or without comments). Twitter is a tool enabling both functions.
Unfortunately, the user-centred nature of 2.0 technologies has lead inevitably to a massive waste of resources, as meaning and pertinence is drowned out by the noise and sabotaged by amateurish mistakes. It’s a bit like the first days of desktop publishing (DTP) in information management terms. What happened then was that the mass of ‘DTPers’ learned the basics from professionals and standards improved markedly.
The same could happen in KM 2.0 and social media. People are already talking about ‘professional citizen journalists’. Daniel Durrant writes on Amplify: “An uncomfortable rift may arise between professionally defined ‘Journalists’ and noise making users unless we create systems that work for the both camps. A little bit of noise is fine, but music is better. Journalists and citizens are capable of working together to enhance the quality of online media.” (http://openintelligence.amplify.com/2010/04/02/the-next-challenge-adding-value-to-social-media/#comments).
The same could be said for the rift between knowledge professionals and knowledge users, who seem to steadfastly refuse to take on board even the most basic KM practices. Just for starters, I would bet that over 95 per cent of
Here, I must confess that after years working as a journalist and a content analyst, I had never heard of Boolean algebra until I met Tony Kent about 30 years ago. Using his <<Strix>> text database software he quietly ‘blew my mind’ with the amazing power of Boolean search strategies, both on full text and structured metadata. In the years that we collaborated, one job I had was teaching secretarial staff to use <<Strix>>, part of which, was blowing their minds with basic Boolean operators used to build up sets which could then be re-combined again using Boolean operators. In most cases, intelligent people, such as secretaries, can learn to use Boolean algebra quite effectively within about an hour or two. One of the great things about working this way is that it really makes people *think* about what they are looking for
Tony Kent used to be very dismissive of relevance ranking algorithms compared with the precision recall of an intelligent Boolean query. How much knowledge have people lost by casting their search fate to the wind of Google relevance algorithms, for the sake of an hour’s teaching?
The next article, Part 2 (Algorithmic culture: The power of structure; Spirit of enquiry: Open questioning) will be about ways to bridge the chasm between users and professionals. As with any relationship, both parties will need to learn from each other.
Jan Wyllie is a founding director of Open Intelligence and Trend Monitor. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org