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The magic of Inmagic

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Our time in Seattle for the 2008 SLA Conference was a lot of work, but we also managed to have a lot of fun. We got to rub elbows with some of our customers and exchange ideas with other thought leaders in the social libraries sphere.

And beside our presentation, we also had a special treat for SLA attendees ... STEFFAN SOULE THE AMAZING INMAGIC MAGICIAN! Enjoy the show!

The revolution will be televised

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The folks at Common Craft recently created this video about the benefits of social media. I thought I would share it with you to help you gain an understanding of the buzz and benefits we're seeing at Inmagic.



Now just substitute “ice cream” with “knowledge,” and you'll begin to understand the power and promise that social media holds for revolutionizing knowledge management.

But unlike the video, at Inmagic we believe this is not an “us versus them” thing. Knowledge can and will come from two directions:

1. the information center (the ice cream factory)
2. individuals (members of Scoopville)

The power of a social knowledge network approach to knowledge management is that you get one repository with tightly integrated top-down (vetted) and bottom-up (social) information. Social rating and comments enhance and inform the vetted information. Blogs direct users, or members of the knowledge community, to new and interesting content.

Users don’t want more silos created by social media. They want a consolidated knowledge repository with the latest and highest quality news, research, and information AND they want the advice and commentary of their peers to make this information richer.

So learn about social media, but think about how this can be used to take your knowledge repository, and/or your OPAC, to a new level. This is not a content repository with a blog on the side. This is a whole new way to build, maintain, publish, and create community around information. This is the Social Knowledge Network Revolution. Viva la revolution!

Socializing the Library: Inmagic's SLA presentation slides

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There's no doubt one of the highlights for at the 2008 SLA Conference was the presentation by Jeff Wolfe, Photo Planner for InDyne and a NASA contractor serving the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Jeff was a hit. But I'm willing to say that we warmed the crowd up for him -- right, Jeff? Before Jeff took the podium, Phil and I gave our presentation Socializing the Library - A Future Vision or Reality?

I know there's a lot of you out there who couldn't make it to Seattle this year, so I thought I'd post the PowerPoint slides online in addition to the video.

The first part of the presentation gave an outline of the new generation of knowledge management. I spoke about our customers, the new opportunities they have in the realm of social knowledge, and how we can help bring them to those levels.

Then Phil introduced the audience to our newest product, Inmagic Presto. Presto is our new and improved social knowledge network platform. Simply put, it's a tightly knit integration of traditional knowledge and information management tools with social media.

Enjoy!

Inmagic catches up with Andornot

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While the Inmagic team was making moves at the 2008 SLA Conference in June, Janelle had the chance to catch up with Rex Turgano from Andornot, one of Inmagic's partner companies.

Rex shared Andornot's role in the social library sphere, and told us about its own experience at the conference. Watch the video to see how Andornot and Inmagic are working together to change the social knowledge horizon.


Google's dilemma is your opportunity

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As the saying goes, one person's dilemma is another person's opportunity. Case in point: Google.

Google, because it is the "default" search engine for the Internet, holds enormous power and with it, responsibility.

While this might be a dilemma for Google, it points to an opportunity for knowledge managers. As the administrator and curator of your organization's knowledge repository, you hold enormous influence over what resources will be found when knowledge workers query the repository for information.

Remember, your job is not to be info-neutral, but to be info-biased. Your job is to help your co-workers find high-quality and relevant information that will help your organization succeed. The more you can show that you are able to quickly and easily direct people to the "right" piece of information, the more the organization will value you.

So how can you do this? First, as a content administrator, you can:

Ensure robust meta tagging occurs as information flows into the system. Meta tags are information about the information. They make data more discoverable by adding new facets for search to hook on to, which lets people find it more easily. For example, a meta-tag for IBM might be "International Business Machines." When you query "International Business Machines," the search results will yield "IBM."

Tagging can be done in an automated fashion with auto-classification, through entity extraction, etc. It can also be done manually when you have a low volume of high-value information. When sourcing information, use organizations that meta-tag their information, which might save time and energy to tag data yourself. Reuters has meta-tagged its news feeds for years, and AP is finally getting around to it.

Pick high-quality information sources. You do this all day as an information professional, and it is crucial to creating a high-value repository. Garbage-in, garbage out.

Discard low-quality and outdated information in the knowledge repository. Search engines do not distinguish between low-quality and high-quality sources. They differentiate based on relevance (which is often about word count). If the repository is 80 percent bad data, the search will return 80 percent bad results.

One way to purge the repository of useless information is by monitoring document views. This tells you if a document is seldom or never used. If this is the case, it might be worth finding out why, and deciding if it should be removed. Also, with news feeds, the ability to auto-delete or purge outdated content is a must.

Tune the search engine. Is relevance a good way to sort the search results? If your repository houses news articles, for instance, you might want to tune the search engine to sort by date. This might yield more useful results.

Build a social knowledge network. Build a social knowledge network in concert with the community. For example, social tags increase the search facets and make information more discoverable. Rankings can help users more efficiently sift through content, enabling them to find what they need more quickly.

In addition, comments and ratings can help you understand what information sources are of high quality and what documents need to be weeded from the system. You can also use rankings to influence or drive search relevance. Use the wisdom of the community to enhance the power of search.

Taken together, these methods of top-down tuning and bottom-up commentary can make a real difference in how quickly users find the right piece of information. So you see, "Google's dilemma" is your imperative.

What are your tips on tuning content and making it more relevant?

Using social media to drive knowledge management

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There was a lull in the action at SLA, and Phil mentioned how the folks running the conference have done a good job of incorporating plenty of sessions about social media into this year's show.

But from these sessions, Phil was seeing that many companies are using social media to simply supplement their knowledge libraries. For example, they have a blog or community forum where people can share their experiences and advice, but it's separate from the vetted data.

That got him going on the industry's new wave: how social media will soon be tightly integrated into knowledge management. Phil is careful to explain, however, that social media will not replace vetted data, but rather enhance it.

We grabbed our camera just before he dove into his philosophy.

SLA on the side: Catching up with customers

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One of Inmagic's primary focuses at the SLA Conference was to announce the latest goings-on at the company -- the new strategic direction, Presto, blog, Web site, and customer advisory panel.

Our customer advisory panel is perhaps the most important one, because there's nothing more valuable than working hand in hand with your customers.

SLA gives us an opportunity to take that a step further. We get a lot of face time with customers, which is crucial for learning more about their needs, and determining how we can better address them.

Some customers have been with Inmagic since the company's beginnings, and we've forged personal relationships with them as well. It's nice to see a familiar face and catch up at SLA, as Phil explains in our interview with him at the booth.

Engineering KM 2.0: Disturbing the status quo

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A few weeks ago, Bridget told you about one of our favorite presentations from 2008's SLA conference. Environmental engineering firm R.V. Anderson Associates Limited (RVA) made a presentation on one of their recent white papers, "Engineering KM 2.0: Disturbing the Status Quo."

The white paper is now posted on the SLA Web site, and I thought you might enjoy reading it if you weren't able to make it out to Seattle.

It takes you through the challenges the company was facing surrounding its knowledge management system, how they found Presto, how they're using it to manage and share technical data across its eight locations, and where it's brought them today.

We also talked to RVA after the show to learn more about their story. A podcast of our conversation is coming soon.

The view from SLA 2008

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You've been reading about and listening to our favorite and most memorable moments at the SLA Conference 2008 for the past few weeks now. I thought you might like to take a photo tour to see some of the action we've been talking so much about. So without further ado, I give you Inmagic's SLA 2008 photostream.

The future of social knowledge management

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During a few minutes of downtime at SLA, we grabbed Mike to talk about how the show was going, and what customer's were asking him at the booth. Our conversation turned to the industry, and Mike gave his perspective on the challenges facing librarians, why the industry is becoming social, and how Inmagic is driving its transition to social knowledge platforms.

A librarian's take on electronic notebooks

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Electronic notebooks are an up-and-coming tool for recording research data, particularly for laboratories and R & D organizations.

At SLA, we got an inside perspective on what electronic notebooks might hold for academia when we talked to Jennifer Lee. She's a liaison librarian for environmental design at the University of Calgary.

She had just attended a presentation on electronic notebooks when we crossed paths at the Inmagic booth. Take a listen to our conversation to learn the value she sees in electronic notebooks for her academic research.







NASA contractor's mission to the next generation of knowledge management

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Every space shuttle NASA has launched since its first one in 1981 has been captured on 16 mm film, recorded on video tape, or, now, shot using digital cameras. Ever wonder where all that data goes?

Think about it. For every launch, over 180 cameras are trained on the shuttle at a number of angles, capturing imagery during launch, in-flight, and when landing. Back at the base, engineers monitor the footage to ensure everything goes smoothly, and later review it to measure how the equipment performed.

Over the years, NASA has collected 12 terabytes of launch, flight, and landing data -- including 5 million digital photos and tens of thousands of videos. It's an enormous amount of information that must be organized, stored, and managed.

Handling this job is Jeff Wolfe, Photo Planner for InDyne, a NASA contractor serving the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Jeff uses Presto to categorize and organize the imagery, give other authorized engineers access to the data for reviews, and meet federal codes for archiving documentary and historical resources.

We caught up with Jeff at SLA to learn a little more about how he uses Presto, and our camera caught the conversation. For a more in-depth drill down into how he uses Presto to manage Kennedy Space Center's video and photo library, watch his presentation at SLA, when he takes the podium as part of Mike and Phil's "Socializing the Library" presentation.

Jeff also has a webinar about the topic, which you can watch on Inmagic's Web site.

A partner when flying solo

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If you're a solo librarian, you're probably all too familiar with the challenges of managing gigabytes, even terabytes, of data alone. Among these information warriors is Betsy King, the solo librarian for CAE's Tampa, Fla., location, whom we met at SLA.

We talked about the challenges she faces organizing and sorting the terabytes of information CAE uses to manufacture flight simulators for the U.S. military. As an SLA member and regular attendee, however, she stays abreast of tools to make her job easier, and be her "partner" in knowledge management.

This year, the new version of Presto piqued her interest, and she plans on investigating the software further. Learn why in our podcast.







Center stage at SLA

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If you've been waiting on the edge of your seat to see our "Socializing the Library: Future Vision or Reality?" presentation from SLA, you can sit back now and enjoy the show.



Mike and Phil take you though the concept and implementation of Social Knowledge Networks, and Presto's role in enabling them.

The guys turned the mic over to Jeff Wolfe, Photo Planner for InDyne's Kennedy Integrated Communications Services for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He talks about how he uses Presto to manage the space center's digital content, which includes 5 million photos and tens of thousands of videos of space shuttle launches.

After the presentation, we were able to take Jeff aside for a few moments to discuss his experiences with Presto in more depth. That video is on tap, along with a few others. We'll also be posting a complete transcript of the presentation in the next couple days.

Fear and loathing in Seattle (part 2)

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As I explained in my last blog post, there seemed to be a general feeling that the 2008 SLA attendees were either really excited about social media and the transforming role it will play in advancing the world of knowledge management, or threatened by the lack of control implied by these technologies.

I feel this was similar to the dread of disintermediation in the 90s. If the knowledge center (or corporate library) provides an environment where the information professional can play a critical role in selecting, managing, adding value, and publishing critical organizational knowledge, the role of the special library looks like this:



The feeling among some attendees seemed to be that social media would lead to a world where knowledge workers would only talk to other knowledge workers, and the result would be a diminished role for the knowledge center. In essence, some attendees were afraid we would end up here:



I believe the fear that social media can replace a knowledge repository is misplaced. Knowledge workers don't want to access knowledge in an environment where fact and rumor are indistinguishable, and veracity in general is a huge issue. They don't want to dispose of a vetted and verified repository of high-value information.

But knowledge workers do want the help and collaboration of co-workers, which they don't get from today’s knowledge repository. Knowledge workers do want to be able to become “book smart” by accessing information in a vetted knowledge repository, and they do want to become “street smart” by talking and exchanging ideas with co-workers.

What knowledge workers are looking for is the same experience they get at sites such as Amazon, where they find a combination of vetted information about a book (author, publisher, price), and social information (reviews and recommendations for other books).

Because the social information is deeply integrated with the vetted information, the social information augments and enhances the vetted information, making the user smarter. Neither the vetted nor the social information alone would achieve this result.

The world a knowledge worker is looking for is not a virtual water cooler where they can trade gossip and rumors. Rather, it is a virtual honey pot of reliable information from which they can gain knowledge, and simultaneously trade tips and techniques for using this information.

Therefore, they seek a world that looks like this:



This is what we call a Social Knowledge Network. It is a world in which the top-down vetted knowledge is surrounded and enhanced by the wisdom of the community. And one in which special librarians and information professionals play a huge role in creating and maintaining the knowledge repository, which sits at the heart of this vibrant knowledge network.

What I can assure you is that we did not make this vision up. We are receiving requests for proposals (RFPs) every day from information professionals, asking for these capabilities. The RFPs that we receive look the same as they did a year ago, but now a new section has appeared: “what social capabilities do you offer?”

If you believe in this vision, please let me know. If you are having challenges making your organization see this vision, give me a call. I speak to CIOs around the world, and would be happy to talk to yours.

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