Re-examining knowledge management
By scbrown5 on May 12, 2008
Knowledge management - KM - is experiencing a resurgence of interest here at Sun, at least a resurgence of buzz. We had this interest and buzz back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but most of that buzz died away over a few years.
But now, KM seems to be back! Why is that?
Much of KM the first time around was about capturing 'tacit' knowledge - the knowledge that essentially never gets published. The processes and information floating around in peoples' heads. In the enterprise, that meant capturing the company knowledge and making it available.
Part of what's driving the KM discussion this time is all the social networking tools available today. Blogs, wikis, networking tools like LinkedIn and Facebook and more are now actually capturing that tacit knowledge. Today, people and groups have ways to easily record their output and to record all that stuff floating around in their heads. In many instances, it's easier to find people now more than ever, so you can quickly find and connect with experts. Communities and networks spring up around anything and everything. All this is exactly what KM was trying to accomplish the first time around - but it was usually too hard to participate back then. Social media tools have become an important part of KM and are driving interest in KM again.
But - social media tools both enhance and complicate the KM picture. Yes, they are capturing a lot of this knowledge. But at the same time, they're adding yet another layer of information to the already enormous information universe. True, the technology to find information is getting better, our ability to store information is getting greater, and the computing power to search larger and larger pools of information is continually growing. But as the universe of information grows larger, the opportunities and challenges of finding the information one is seeking grow larger as well.
Over the next few entries, I'll be exploring topics such as:
- What is knowledge? What do we include as 'knowledge'?
- What's the difference between knowledge management (KM), information management (IM), content management (CM) - especially when so many folks are using these (or at least thinking about these) interchangeably?
- How does one determine authority in a social setting? What's right? What's accurate?
- If everyone has just the information they want, how do you get important information to everyone? How do you get everyone on the same page?
- What does one year, three years, five years from now look like for information, KM and IM?
Scott Brown, Sr. Information Specialist