Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 10 Issue 4
As used on the famous Nelson Mandela?
When the internet first moved into the mainstream a decade ago, idealistic proponents argued that, finally, information would be free – free to move unhindered by geographical and other barriers, that is, not necessarily free as in ‘free beer’.
While there has actually been a remarkable amount of ‘free beer’, most notably from the newspapers that munificently publish their content free online, the idea that repressive governments would be unable to hold the tide against the free-flow of information over the internet – and be swept away accordingly – is becoming less and less tenable.
November was the first time in a year that the Chinese government unblocked online encyclopaedia Wikipedia and a host of other globally popular websites. But the move did not reflect a climb down in the face of public and international pressure. Rather, it reflected a ratcheting up in the sophistication of the controls it imposes.
Chinese web users may well be able to peruse Wikipedia’s entries on Britney Spears and Elvis Hammond, but they won’t be able to read about the Tiananmen Square massacre.
In Iran, meanwhile, in the same month, President Ahmadinejad stepped up his war against ‘western cultural influences’ included the blocking of an imaginative array of websites, bizarrely including the Internet Movie Database, as well as the tyrants’ more usual targets: Wikipedia and the BBC.
Yet they don’t act alone. Western technology suppliers actively collude with them to help them enforce their bans. A number of big-name technology companies, for example, are routinely cited for co-operating with the Chinese government, but they are not the only ones.
Are these vendors any better than the western companies that supply leg-irons and instruments of torture to such regimes? Some would say not.
However, in a world in which the open sharing of knowledge is becoming more crucial – to generate wealth, improve cultural understanding and help us overcome the grave challenges of the age – such activities only make everyone poorer. Not just those seeking information from the internet’s most popular resources.
Cover story: Knowledge audit
The knowledge audit is a valuable first step in any KM journey as well as a gauge of the effectiveness of an organisations existing strategy.
Case study: Norwich Union
Who owns the intranet? Who decides what can and cant be published? Four years ago, insurer Norwich Union started to tackle the issue of intranet governance in its life assurance business. Today, governance is being tackled enterprise-wide.
Case study: Microsoft
There are several thousand employee blogs at Microsoft. An in-depth study of bloggers in the company highlights the issues that arise when a personal medium is applied to work goals.
Case report: KM in academia
Youve probably heard many a manager say that a fresh college graduate is like receiving raw material. Even though theyve been students for 16 or so years, the first thing you have to do is train them. Imagine the problem in a learning organisation. Unless those recruits came from a learning institution, they would have to learn more than the ropes. They would have to learn how to learn.
Thought leader: Enterprise 2.0
More and more organisations are now experimenting with the use of lightweight social tools to improve internal communications and knowledge sharing a phenomenon some are calling enterprise 2.0.
Masterclass: Business taxonomy, part III
Taxonomies can be powerful tools. But too often, their complexity defeats the users they are supposed to help. The business taxonomy offers a simpler alternative. In the final part of this three-part masterclass, Zach Wahl examines taxonomy evolution.
For the past seven years I have been virtually virtual in my presence in the knowledge management world. But I have to admit my experience at KM Asia taught me theres nothing like human contact. From Jerry Ash in Singapore.
KM works best wherever it is needed and wanted. So my advice to KM wannabes is to go where the opportunity is. Carpe KM!
The Gurteen perspective
From 1989 to 1992 I worked for Lotus Development in its then headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts as International Czar. Yes that was my title. I still have some business cards to prove it. Funny thing was, though, even with such a grand title I had no authoritative power, yet I did get to build a small team.
The knowledge: Ash Sooknanan
If youre struggling to understand what it means to live in a knowledge society, Ash Sooknanan is on hand to help. Drawing on his KM experiences working at the Bank of Montreal and Canadas Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, he is putting the finishing touches to his debut book, Knowledge Shock.