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The junk drawer of the Internet age

It's Monday. But I'm giving you an excuse to leave work (virtually) and come with me down the Road to Social Knowledge Networks. Although we won't be traveling down a yellowbrick road with a little dog in tow, and breaking out dance moves with Munchkins, we will be journeying to discover the "man behind the curtain:" what a SKN is, what it is not, and why it's important.

Got your red slippers? Then let's go!

Librarians are, naturally, attracted to the promised benefits of social knowledge networks. Many are rushing to develop and implement social libraries. Industry pundits and vendors are exploiting this interest, suggesting techniques and tools that librarians should use to socialize their libraries.

Their suggestions run the gamut from simply setting up a Facebook page or dropping in a wiki, to a complete overhaul of their knowledge management strategy and organization's IT infrastructure. Some go as far as re-engineering their entire content or knowledge management environment.

Perhaps a better approach would be to tell librarians not what to do, but rather, what to pitfalls to watch out for. And that's exactly what we're going to do here to kick off our Road to Social Knowledge Networks series.

There are several missteps to SKNs. We begin at a place called the "junk drawer."



Everyone has one, but no matter how hard we try, they just don't work to organize your stuff. Think of the drawer in your kitchen. It probably has scissors, last year’s lottery ticket, a spatula, a few old bills, and maybe a half-eaten candy cane.

In the enterprise, it's an informational junk drawer, and it constitutes the most common knowledge repository, the shared network drive.

With informational junk drawers, there is no information strategy and no shared vision for organizing content. Outdated content is not removed, and poor-quality content is not expunged. When trying to find information, it's basically every person for themselves, which usually results in wasted time and money, and knowledge that sits stagnant.

Key take away: Information is physically captured but logically lost.

This is the most disorganized information repository. It gets better from here, but slowly. Stay tuned next week when we explore Stage 2: Infinite Search.

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