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

Personal KM

Back from the IBM Professional Technical Leadership Exchange

What an exciting week, indeed, last week, folks! I am now back from Madrid where I attended the IBM Professional Technical Leadership Exchange last week. If you would remember, I was also scheduled to present on the topic Personal Knowledge Management, specially on how IBM is making use of PKM related tools in order to augment different KM strategies already in place to foster and boost knowledge sharing and collaboration. Well, the presentation went very well and had lots of positive feedback. I may detail some more about its contents and perhaps share the slides at a later time once I get the go ahead, since most of the information was meant for IBM internal purposes. Thus stay tuned.

However, with this weblog post I just wanted to let folks know that I am now back, although doing some catch up with everything else (a few e-mails, RSS / Atom feeds, links and presentations I have bumped into so far). Thus it may take a day or two still to get back into full swing. I thought I was going to be able to share some weblog posts from some interesting links I bumped into during the course of the week or perhaps doing some live conblogging but the truth is that I didn’t get much of a chance since the venue of the event was not having consistent networking connections to allow a bunch of us get connected and create a couple of weblog posts. And the prices of the wireless broadband connection from the hotel where I was staying were not as cheap and competitive as you would expect thus here I am; stuck with a whole bunch of great ideas to talk about and comment further regarding KM on and still plenty of stuff to catch up with. So you will have to bear with me for a little while still why I try to get most of those ideas in order.

On the other hand, I also wanted to mention how delighted I am about how the KMBloggers community is coming along. We already have got eight members, and growing, and although I haven’t been sharing much information I am excited to see there is genuine interest in seeing the group grow further. Thus stay tuned because I am now back and over the next couple of days I will be sharing some further information details as well as getting started with some different discussions where I would be asking for your input to share your thoughts. In case you may not have subscribed to the KMBloggers Yahoo! group yet here is the link you can go to in order to subscribe to it. Also do not forget to signup for the KMWiki space that Denham put together already as well and where some great information has been collected already around different KM related topics.

Thus, let’s get busy ! (Yes, indeed, it is good to be back fully re-energised! 🙂 )

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IBM Professional Technical Leadership Exchange – Madrid – May 2006

This week, folks, is going to be an interesting week as tomorrow morning I will be heading over to Madrid, Spain, for an upcoming IBM, internal only, event (The IBM Professional Technical Leadership Exchange) where a whole bunch of the IBM top leaders will get together from the 2nd till the 5th of May to share thoughts, ideas, experiences around the subject of “Delivering Innovation Together“.

Main reason why I am creating this weblog post over here is because while attending this particular event I will also be presenting, this coming Friday, on one of my favourite topics thus far: Personal Knowledge Management, which as you may have well guessed, fits in quite nicely with the main themes here at elsua. Indeed, during the course of a bit over an hour I will be taking the opportunity to talk about how Personal Knowledge Management, and the emergence of social software, is actually helping Knowledge Management come back in the corporate world big time, and perhaps everywhere else as well. And all that through a stronger and much more meaningful way where for the first time knowledge workers are the center of attention and not the tools, nor the processes, in order to help keep a much more relevant and stronger sense of knowledge sharing and collaboration within the corporation.

Thus, yes, indeed, I will be talking about wikis, weblogs, social bookmarks, podcasting, IM / VoIP, RSS / Atom Newsfeeds and so forth. Touching base, specially, on the IBM internal social networking tools that we are currently using at the moment in this particular space of social software. I am not sure if I would be able to share the presentation materials yet, as I need to do a few inquiries yet. I am not even sure if I would be able to some live conblogging as I have been told the venue is not very good with the network connections. Either way, I will certainly be taking some notes along the way and whenever I get a chance I will certainly get things going and post something, including some pictures of the event. Thus stay tuned for some more to come up !

Off I go …

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Welcome to the KMBloggers Community!

A couple of days ago you would remember how I created a weblog post on the topic of Coming to Terms with Knowledge Management Webloggers where I was indicating how it would be a good opportunity now to establish a community of Knowledge Management bloggers where we could get together to share some of our thoughts / ideas on the KM happenings taking place out there in the blogosphere and elsewhere, of course. So after having received several e-mails from folks, who would like to become part of that community, and having had a number of discussions, I am glad to present you the KMBloggers Community.

During the course of those discussions with different KMers on how to get started with this community of KM bloggers, we decided to get things going by making use of two different tools in order to help us get together. I am sure you would be aware of both tools since one of them is a key resource for KMers alike and the second one is just one hosted in one of the most popular group tools out there.

Indeed, after having considered a few options we have decided to have:

In principle, the community is open to everyone interested in Knowledge Management and related topics. However, we encourage as well that KMers who maintain a weblog on KM related topics would become part of the community in order to get involved in the different conversations. Thus if you feel that you would want to contribute into this new KM space where you will be an integral part of it feel free to signup at KMBloggers and register into the KMWiki.

At this very moment KMWiki has got already lots of different content, including a starting list of KM bloggers and although the KMBloggers Yahoo! group has not been populated yet with content it will start getting some over the course of the next couple of days. Thus go ahead and sign up now while we get ready different bits and pieces.

If you have got any questions or further comments feel free to append them over here or just contact me offline. Feel free as well to pass this message along to all those folks interested in KM who you feel would be keen on becoming part of this new community around the role that social software like wikis and weblogs is currently playing in the Knowledge Management world.

Hope to see you there soon !

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Modern Social Software Could Be the Key to Building Effective Enterprise Knowledge Systems – Reinventing the Intranet

It looks like quite a few of the regular weblogs that I follow have been talking about this very same subject. And all of them starting after the superb article that Job Udell creating on Modern Social Software Could Be the Key to Building Effective Enterprise Knowledge Systems: Reinventing the Intranet. So I just thought I would dive into the conversation(s) as well and share my two cents worth of comments. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Jon’s article itself, no doubt about it (I think he is on to something), but in particular I enjoyed a couple of paragraphs that were the ones that caught my attention all along:

"Shared bookmarking, coupled with tagging, is another piece of low-hanging fruit. Sprinkling Web 2.0 pixie dust won’t solve every problem, but the benefits of public services such as del.icio.us and Furl can be realized within the enterprise, too. That’s true because they benefit the individual first, and then, as a useful side effect, the community.

Given the opportunity, people will want to bookmark and tag the resources they publish internally. It’s the easiest way to create, manage, and share dynamic lists of such resources. This system pays for itself in improved personal productivity alone. Everything else is gravy, and there’s plenty of that.

Saved bookmarks chart the current and historical levels of interest in what their URLs represent, and they identify groups that share those interests. (Note that behind the firewall, bookmarks can refer to public resources as well as private ones inside the enterprise.) Tags identify sets of related resources and groups related to those sets. They also extend the metadata vocabularies that can be used to improve search"

Good stuff! I think it is the first time that I get to read elsewhere what I think are two of the most important and critical components from any given deployed KM system: the individual and the community. All along we have all been getting used to how businesses were focusing more on the business itself, including its tools, and how it was delivering the information and its knowledge without focusing on anything else, like a more active participation from its knowledge workers. And now it looks like that is about to change with the much more active participation and involvement from the individuals themselves and the communities they may belong to. It looks like thanks to this social software I have been talking about all along is going to provoke that change in the way information and knowledge gets spread around within a particular business. About time!

Up until now most folks out there would recognise how different Intranets were regulating their own content through the voices of a few while everyone else tried to digest some of it. In most cases this was generating a false sense of knowledge sharing and collaboration where only a few were benefiting from it. However, the majority of people were more keen on accumulating all sorts of knowledge snippets in their own computers because they just didn’t feel there was a need to share stuff with others. It was all coming to knowledge workers from the top all the way to the bottom in such a way that in most cases people would not need to leave their own silos.

Then all of a sudden social software, i.e. the so-called Web 2.0, comes along and there is this frenzy from most knowledge workers to start sharing knowledge on their Intranets using wikis, weblogs, social bookmarking tools, RSS / Atom feeds, podcasts, etc. you name it. All of it is there. And out of no blue you find yourself with a huge Intranet with multiple voices that is no longer controlled by just a few but by a complex network of communities that mix and mingle with each other enhancing the way information and knowledge gets spread around. And before you know it people start forgetting about keeping everything in their computers and they go crazy about sharing most of what they have using those tools. And that new wealth of information just keeps on getting bigger and bigger because for the first time plenty of businesses are benefiting from all this and start embracing social networking tools as the next best thing that could happen to them to both retain their knowledge workers and also to start building on a massive and complex KM system that tries to put everything together. And which, by the way, will succeed because those same knowledge workers are the ones keen on keeping it going. The same way they have been enjoying those tools out there on the Internet as their own Personal Knowledge Management systems to share their knowledge with others, they will continue to enjoy some of those same tools for their daily work on their companies’ Intranets.

And while I am writing all this I just couldn’t help thinking about the cultural shift that all this may be causing right now at this moment, where we go from a traditional business and its static KM system(s), where only a few get to run the show and the rest is just looking into it from an apathetic point of view without even getting too involved because of how complex it all seems, to a much more dynamic KM system(s) where knowledge workers feel that their voices are finally being heard while getting to share and collaborate therefore generating enough passion, trust, commitment and involvement to make it work. Exciting times indeed for company Intranets, but much more exciting and fascinating for knowledge workers and the communities they are a part of. And all of that thanks to this social software. Would would that thought about that, right?

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Qwika – New Wiki Search Engine Updated!

Ever since the first day that it came out, and ever since I first weblogged about it, I have always been very fond of Qwika, a powerful search engine that allows you to search content of multiple wikis hosted in different places but bringing you that collective wisdom under a single point of entry. In the past there wasn’t a single and unique service able to search the content of wikis so by the looks of it it was very much needed to have something like Qwika to be able to share for knowledge and information from a wide range of wiki spaces and without having to search in multiple places. Back when I first weblogged about it I actually mentioned how most of the content seemed to be coming from Wikipedia, but just a couple of hours ago I got an e-mail from Luke Metcalfe where he was pointing to a new press release where we would be able to read the following piece of news:

Qwika, a search engine designed specifically for searching wikis, has today included an additional 1,144 wikis and 21,964,380 articles in its index. This brings the site much further to its goal of indexing all wiki content.

These wikis span an wide array of topics including travel, music, genealogy, trains and games. They provide a level of detail that would not be considered encyclopedic in Wikipedia. Most are hosted at How, recently renamed from WikiCities.

WoW! 1.144 and coming closer to the 22 million articles of good and relevant information and knowledge ready at your fingertips and ready to be reused. This is just terrific ! Those folks who have been trying out Qwika would certainly agree with me how easy it is actually to make use of it and even better to be presented the results in just a single window and then navigate from there regardless where the original resource may be. It will eventually get you there. Very nice, indeed.

If in the past most of the content indexed by Qwika was coming from Wikipedia, it looks like with this press release it will now also search the contents of Wikia, the former Wikicities, a place I have been watching closely lately where you can find a good number of wiki spaces related to Knowledge Management. In fact, here you have got the results from Qwika related to Knowledge Management. As you will be able to see lots of interesting resources related to the KM world and which would fit in quite nicely next to a weblog post I shared not long ago: KM Awareness – Tell Me What You Read and I Will Tell You Who You Are. Another resource we would need to add to the growing list of KM resources.

Thus if you haven’t checked out Qwika yet, I would suggest you take it for a spin and see if it would allow you to find relevant wiki content to whatever you may be looking for. I am surely it will meet your expectations and much more. We will have to wait and see what will happen in future upgrades. Perhaps adding Wikispaces to the list of resources? We shall see. But so far things are looking good. Very good, indeed!

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What Is Happening with KM? The Shift to Social Computing

In a recent weblog post Tom Godfrey was wondering what was happening in the world of Knowledge Management as he was not seeing anything inspiring for a few weeks now. And while thinking some more about that particular weblog post I just couldn’t help thinking about a recent article I bumped into that clearly indicates a strong shift in the way Knowledge Management, Communities of Practice and Collaboration have been perceived so far and where they are potentially starting to head to thanks to the help of social software and Web 2.0 related technologies. The article itself is titled The Shift to Social Computing by Dion Hinchcliffe and you can find it over here.

That particular very nicely written article by Dion actually puts into perspective where the focus in Knowledge Management should be placed from now onwards, if not before all along. We are no longer talking about organisations, or whatever other hierarchical / mechanical groups, pushing for KM; we are now talking that it is actually the communities themselves the ones that will be pulling everything together and get people to share their knowledge and collaborate with one another making use of that social software that Web 2.0 has been inspiring so far. Yes, indeed, what Dion mentions as Social Computing.

In that article you would be able as well to see listed the three main principles he mentions as responsible for the shift to Social Computing:

  1. “Innovation is moving from a top-down to bottom-up model
  2. Value is shifting from ownership to experiences
  3. Power is moving from institutions to communities”

I must say that while going through this same list of principles it reminded me of another weblog post I created some time ago titled Useful Distinctions in Social Software – Where Passion, Trust and Involvement All Meet where you can see how it is that passion, trust and involvement that helps knowledge workers break that command and control attitude from the hierarchical business and allow themselves to become members of different communities and share what they know with others going beyond whatever the organisation(s) they may belong to.

However, and while all this is happening there is something equally important and crucial that we should not forget about. From the very beginning and while KM was following a much more traditional and hierarchical method where the focus was on the explicit knowledge exchange and the different organisations themselves we should not fall into the same trap and identify that this shift is all about the tools themselves, once again, but in this case related to the Web 2.0 offerings. We need to ensure that we go beyond that. That we just make use of Web 2.0 technologies as powerful enablers, not the end result, that would allow people come together and share their knowledge and collaborate with other community members. Yes, indeed, we need to ensure that the focus is in the right place: the people and their tacit knowledge.

Thus I think we are witnessing exciting times ahead of us in the KM world, but then again, are we ourselves ready as well to make that cultural shift ? You decide.

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