E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Shortcuts Podcast – How to Use Wikis at Work (Part One)

In the past you would recall how I have actually been participating in IBM’s Shortcuts podcast in a couple of episodes sharing some thoughts and tips on getting the most out of social bookmarking. Well, I thought you would be interested in another episode, the first out of two, that I have just been working on with the Shortcuts team, but this time around the world of wikis and their adoption within the enterprise sharing some of the many different uses that knowledge workers could benefit from while adopting such wikis within whatever their businesses. We all know how powerful wikis are in general for groups to collaborate so this time around I have shared my thoughts on how some of those groups, specially communities, are making good use of such social software tool.

So if you would want to read or listen further to this week’s Shortcuts then check out Cut #13: How to use wikis at work (part one). In there I get to talk about how wikis are being used as Knowledge Bases, pretty much in the same fashion as online encyclopedias, with Wikipedia as one clear example. Then I talked about how wikis are also being used as project management tools to help augment the value of the already existing PM tools available out there, more than anything else from the perspective of allowing all project members to have a voice and share their thoughts and ideas of how the project is going and help build content on top of each other’s content to enrich the different levels of interactions so that knowledge workers do not get to hear just from a single source but from multiple of them.

Also I get to talk about wikis could well be used as handy communication tools where some of the noise that we all get on a daily basis from both e-mail and Instant Messages could be diverted towards those different wikis so that with the use of RSS feeds we would have the opportunity to control a bit of that noise and just receive and process the messages we would all really need to digest further.

And, finally, one other use for which wikis are being used, and actually one of my favourites, is the fact that plenty of wikis out there have been setup in order to allow knowledge workers capture their best know-how, their handy knowledge snippets, in short, their tacit knowledge, and from there build on top of each others content to then help work it through and perhaps convert it into Intellectual Capital that would then be shared at a later time in other, much more sophisticated, repositories, like Intellectual Capital databases.

So as you can see wikis can certainly be very powerful Knowledge Management and Collaboration tools, so much so that plenty of different groups within the enterprise are actually making use of them as huge boosters of the already existing interactions but bringing a new and fresh method for knowledge sharing where everyone is in control and able to build up content further on top of already existing content. Thus you can imagine that one of the key fundamental aspects for success in the adoption of wikis within the enterprise would be trust, but I guess that would be the subject for another weblog post…

For the time being, if you would want to listen some more what that first part on How to use wikis at work go over to the Shortcuts podcast site and and enjoy the show! (I surely did and I want to thank from here with a massive kudos the Shortcuts team for their kind invitation and for having me in the show, once more. Thanks guys !)

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  1. Hi Luis,

    Great summary. What I have found to be a powerful attribute of wiki’s is the ability to do collaborative writing – working at the level of the text itself. This is vastly more efficient than passing markup files in Word, tracking versions and collecting feedback via e-mail or over the phone. Always a surprise when you return and someone has corrected your spelling errors!!

    Another magical experience for me has been ‘refactoring’ – where someone rewrites, structures and improves messy text or thoughts that have been collected overtime.

    A useful aspect of wikis is the content is organised by concept rather than time sequence, this makes for improved context, helps with collecting and connecting. I often use wikis as ‘switchyards’ – a place / space where I can collect links, gather thoughts, rewrite scripts, craft articles and reports, invite critique and comments.

    Creating a new page, adding hyperlinks, altering structure is just so easy!

  2. Thanks a lot, folks, for dropping by and for the feedback comments ! Greatly appreciated!

    Dennis, that is just terrific ! From what I know there would be plenty more episodes where I would be collaborating so you would get to hear some more from me over the course of the next few weeks, which would sound like you and I are both walking your dog in the morning having that conversation around the world of social software 😉 How cool is that?

    Denham, what a fantastic addition to the overall thread ! That is just wonderful ! What I really liked about your contribution is the fact that in wikis you get to contribute on a topic basics without having to refer to a specific timeframe. That is just terrific because, like you said, you can build up on the content without having necessarily to worry necessarily about the time stamps and whatever other accuracy. You can certainly build up from there, from the initial set of ideas and thoughts you may have working on knowing that over time it would certainly get updated as time goes by. That is also, indeed, one of the reasons why I really like wikis and why I am such a big advocate for them, and the impact they are having nowadays in the enterprise is certainly help bring forward a whole lot of knowledge that was well hidden up until now. So with that ease of use what we are provoking is a whole lot of knowledge workers sharing more content than ever and that can only be a good thing !

    Thus thanks much for adding further up into the podcast materials ! Excellent stuff !

  3. Luis, you maby be already aware that latest Systems Journal from IBM covers “business collaboration” with repect to “Activity centered collaboration”
    Especially You man find “Activity Explorer”

    Other topics you would be intrigide are

    1.Beyond predictable workflows: Enhancing productivity in artful business processes
    2.Business activity patterns: A new model for collaborative business applications
    3.Activity management as a Web service
    4.Activity Explorer: Activity-centric collaboration from research to product
    5.Uncovering the to-dos hidden in your in-box
    6.Ethnographic study of collaborative knowledge work
    7.Machines in the conversation: Detecting themes and trends in informal communication streams


  4. Hello Sawada-san ! Thanks ever so much for dropping by and for sharing, once again, another great resource of information for everyone interested in the topic to digest further. Yes, I was aware of that particular issue of Systems Journal. In fact, I am still going through some of the different chapters and have been working on the creation of a couple of weblog posts on the subject as a follow up, so stay tuned for them !

    And, above all, thanks again for dropping by and for sharing this very helpful and insightful feedback ! Greatly appreciated sharing the URL address with the details.

  5. Luis, appreciate your kind word and very much looking forward to you digested summary of what’s happening in “business collaboration”
    What I am expecting to see happenning is simply put
    Activity Explorer combined with followings
    + Dogear(Social Bookmarking) 
    + Fringe Contacts(Social Tagging) 
    + Sametime (Instant Messaging & Conferencing)
    + BLOG
    + QEDWiki (Application Wiki)

    as illustrated by Mike Roche of IBM on activity at

    and QEDWiki described by anton_fricko of IBM at

    Appreciate your continued coverage of scoail networking and KM.

    PS: I am ex-IBMer and e-business Evalngelist in AP and invited Larry Prusak as a conference speaker when he was with IBM back im circa 2000.


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