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

From the blog

Next Generation Knowledge Sharing & Learning Online Conference Event – In Spring 2008?

While I am just about to finish editing the audio recording (And fine tune the slide deck that will go with it) from my pitch on Social Computing @ IBM at the recent IBM iForum event in Zรผrich, and while trying to wrap up everything at work since tomorrow is my last working day for the remaining of the year, earlier on today in Twitter a crazy thought came up from James Dellow after I mentioned in one of my twitterings how one of my abstracts for a conference event, taking place next year, on the state of social computing, was rejected. From there onwards, Dennis McDonald also jumped in, along with Steve Collins, Kelly Drahzal (a.k.a. Kellypuffs), Mark Masterson, Nancy White, LittleLaura, Ryan Boyles, Thomas van der Wal, Ryan Lanham and Jasmin Tragas so far. And before we knew it we had a whole bunch of folks in Twitter interested in the overall event (Plus those who contacted me already offline!).

Look at that!?!?! Who would have thought that Twitter would have such a huge and immediate impact where a bunch of folks passionate on a particular topic, i.e. social computing, will be gathering together into participating on an online conference event around the subject of Knowledge Sharing and Learning and the impact social software is having in both of them? Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

From there onwards, we were all thinking about a potential title and theme for the conference. Nancy White came up with some really good comments on a potential direction: "I have been struggling with "what it is" And it is not just personal. It is organizational. KS, knowledge creation and application. And yes, some management" and so did LittleLaura: "like the idea of KM and IM and info architecture, importance often gets forgotten with all the hype of modern media these days!", along with Kapil Gupta with some really good suggestions: "I only saw part of your conversation about nextgen KM conf, but sounds like you need is something like a barcamp for KM -in SL maybe?"

And in just a matter of minutes things are starting to pave out quite nicely. No, we haven’t finalised a title yet, nor a theme for the overall conference event. So far we have agreed it would be best to host an online event, pretty much like the rather impressive and superb eLearning Technology – Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovations that Tony Karrer, and a few other folks, helped put together not long ago and which I will also blog about in the near future (Catching up with the recordings and blog posts at this moment in time).

But before we move forward on to figuring out the next thing (Establish the final title of the conference, overall logistics, online venue, themes and speaker sessions, etc. etc.) and seeing how not many of the folks who get to read this blog or James Dellow’s ChiefTech are actually hanging out in Twitter, I thought I would poll you folks over here on whether there would be any people out there interested in having such event taking place, some time during the course of 2008, perhaps in the spring. Still to be decided, indeed.

What do you think? We haven’t figured out just yet either how long it would be taking, but I am sure that we could come up with some suggestions in here on the overall length of the conference, and the final format. For now, just querying the folks who get to read blogs on social computing, knowledge sharing and learning topics, plus anyone else interested in the subject. What do you think? Feel you would be able to find some time during spring next year to participate in such an event? Rather as a speaker in whatever the three fields (Or, whatever other you would feel would be relevant for the current trend of discussions held thus far), or as an active participant? Either way would work for us.

Well, here is your chance to weigh in. Share with us below, as a comment, or contact me offline, whether you would want that event to take place or not, whether you would want to participate as an speaker or not, whether you may be able to help volunteer some time to help out with the logistics and whatever else. Like I said, this initial blog post is a little bit to touch base on exploring the potential of hosting such online event to help shape how social computing is impacting Knowledge Sharing / Knowledge Management and Learning in the corporate world.

Thus go ahead and share those comments with us! A simple Yes / No would do as well. No need to elaborate much more right now, if you wish to. Just getting a sense on whether it would be worth while pursuing or not… What do you feel? Fancy joining us altogether to shape the way we are embracing social software within the corporate world to dramatically change the way we share our knowledge, learn and collaborate with other knowledge workers?

Then let’s do it! Let’s make it happen!

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0 votes


  1. The number one topic I think social media and social networking advocates need to address is not the value of what we believe but the manner in which social media and social networking need to interact and co-exist with traditional media, management, and communication structures.

  2. I’ll agree with Dennis here – there is still largely a disconnect between the social media/networking world and the ways it can and probably should work hand in hand with traditional media, management and comms.
    We can see the disconnect on display in the very many attempts at using social media for traditional marketing message push and the backfire effect this often has. Equally, getting business management on board and mind-shifted to using social tools to leverage the brain power across organisations without deference to notional “position” is critical to social media success in business.

  3. I would love to use an event like this to introduce some of my old school KM 1.0 associates who are not yet comfortable with social media.

    As such, I would ask that it not be exclusively in Second Life.

    Baby steps. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This is definitely worthwhile. Dennis and Stephen make great points about seriously paying attention to how social and traditional media should work together. Outside the 2.0 world, there are lots of organizations that don’t yet understand why social media/E2.0 tools are better, and showing how they are both inherently better in and of themselves, and can improve the effectiveness of traditional media is critical to really growing adoption.

    I’d love to help out with this event – organize, present, etc.

  5. Great point kellyd – I think we should stick to the more “mainstream” tools like blogs, wikis, and RSS. Right now, those are the tools many KM 1.0 people are trying to figure out – let’s think of this event as a way to give their efforts a boost!


  6. @Dennis MacDonald – do I hear the siren call of the ‘marketing pig’ dressed up as the social media ‘lamb?’ Hmmm…smells like it from here (LOL)

    This idea has a great deal of potential. Experience I’d share is these things start on the inside and therefore the context of ‘social media’ doesn’t often make a lot of sense.

    I definitely would NOT do 2L. That’s a useful forum but in events I’ve attended with SAP (as an example) they struggle to get 60 people. The 2L interface is way too ‘costly’ and clunky for most people and there is a sense that the personal interaction is lost – even though there’s audio etc.

    I’d treat this as a quasi unconference with limited formal sessions and plenty of time for Q&A/discussion.

    I’d recommend uStreaming it if possible but don’t try be clever on wifi – that’s a nightmare.

    I’d also strongly recommend solid case material. Luis knows about my Notes example from London I wrote a while ago on ZDN. Good story, good outcomes. Also, I’d venture some of the SAP stuff being done in and around SDN/BPX could be cool.

    Pitching it as an event to be held out in GC is so appropriate given the Island’s history and the fact Spain is rapidly becoming an important enterprise market as it jumps from green screen to Internet, missing the C/S world altogether.

    My 2 โ‚ฌ/centimos

  7. Love the idea!

    The very fact that this has sprung up from interactions via “social software” is a case study in itself!

    Maybe one of the sessions could be on how we got from idea to realisation?

    I look forward to being able to “attend”!

  8. Thanks Luis for getting this idea into social networking domain. I’d like to add my support and offer whatever practical help I can. For anyone who follows my blog you will know that I have been evangelising the merits of social networking as means to more effective collaboration and knowledge sharing in the (UK) public sector – which is still deeply hierarchical and steeped in the traditions of command and control processes (i.e. just about diametrically opposite to the principles of social networking!). I’d like to see some of this penetrate the minds of senior civil servants – particularly at HMRC and the Dept of Transport, who might realise there is a difference between ‘information’ (or loss of it!) and ‘knowledge’ (learning from the experience of others). Maybe we can encourage some of them to tune into this conference??

  9. As I’ve already tweeted, Luis, I’m there. If you can give me an excuse to travel to GC in May, even better. I agree with the commenters suggesting that 2L might not be optimal.

    As far as content – I’d very much like to see / hear a conversation amongst this circle of people about the question of networked vs. hierarchical social structures. Several folk here have expressed interest in the idea of reconciling SNS with existing structures and processes. The question that I find most compelling, however, is more like: “is that even possible?” And even if yes (it’s software, it can be bent, anything is possible), then: is that a good idea? I’m thinking of things like this bit from the Harvard Business School:


    This is (potentially) radical stuff. Are the sorts of networked social structures that SNS tends to encourage compatible with hierarchical, command-and-control organizational structures? Or not?

    If not, of course, then we’ve all got our work cut out for us. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But if there really is an issue here, then surely closing our eyes to it is not the optimal strategy.

    I’d like to see a roundtable / discussion or something like that about this issue. Anybody else interested?

  10. To @Mark Masterson’s point re: hierarchies. The short answer is yes. Hierarchies are not going away so any thought of using SNS and assuming that somehow these will simply deconstruct or crumble existing is a day dream. Besides, what purpose would it serve when we already know that many important functions are carried out through informal networks anyway. This is not a new phenomenon, remember the ‘Johnny down the hall’ who always knew how to reboot your crashed PC? Same thing. The only difference is that SNS provides visibility for those heroes. It doesn’t need to get any more complicated. When it doesm we start to build in rigidity and the good ol’ rust belt of process control.

  11. I like unconference idea and creating a focus of adaption, integration and application.

    If it is run out of Gran Canaria please remember to keep some timeslots that are AP friendly too for people like Stephen Collins and me ๐Ÿ™‚ although I would love to attend in person of course!

  12. @Dennis Howlett: I dunno, Dennis. I hear you, and being in an intensely enterprisey position myself, I’m open to that answer. But I also find some of the questions people are asking about the viability of hierarchical organizational structures very interesting. If one accepts the premise that innovation is a good thing, even vital for the long term health of a company, and if one further accepts the premise that networked social structures (and the SNS that support / enable them) are more successful at innovating, then it seems to me that it’s worth thinking about what that might mean.

    I guess my overarching point is that this is (or would be) a complex conversation, worthy of a high-bandwidth, face-to-face event.

  13. To both Mark’s and Dennis’ points, one of the most significant trends I see affecting the hierarchy vs. networks/flatter structure question is the increase in employees working remotely. As more organizations realize the cost and environmental benefits of having employees work remotely, this trend will continue to increase. How does this affect hierarchy? When people are remote, they rely more on networks to get things done and as Dennis said, “SNS provides visibility for those heroes”. Will hierarchy disappear? Probably not. Will hierarchy become less important to the control of information and access to people (leadership), and more of a support mechanism to ensure that the networks are able to function smoothly? I hope so.

  14. Its a good idea but Spring might be too close to build momentum. I would avoid all definitions, buzz words (such as KM 0.0, 2.0, 3.0 etc) and just set up something as KM Conversations or similar. Possibly KM and social computing. The title doesn’t matter if you get most of the main active players in the area bought in to attending.

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