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Brokering knowledge with Nerida Hart

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"It's not about the collections. It's about the people."

That's according to one of the leading minds in knowledge management today, Nerida Hart. Janelle and Nerida connected over the phone last week to delve into her concepts and analysis of some of the industry's biggest trends, namely the evolution to social libraries. Their podcast is below.

Nerida's 30 years in the biz have brought her to Land & Water Australia in Canberra, Australia, where she's Program Manager for Knowledge for the Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) Program.

There, she's helped develop the Regional Knowledge Resource Kit, a wiki providing an interactive online resource for learning and developing skills in information and knowledge management for regional NRM. More about the RKRK can be read on Land & Water Australia's site.

During Janelle's interview, Nerida talks about how special libraries are transforming from "black-box services" to collaborative initiatives with clients. Here, librarians and info pros are becoming "knowledge brokers," sharing and communicating with clients to find the information they need.

"The information on its own doesn't get the job done," Nerida says. "It's people taking that information, working together collaboratively, that actually makes a difference."

She believes social technologies are crucial to achieving this. She's a social media junkie herself, and you can find her on Twitter (NeridaHart), Skype (NeridaHartau), Facebook, and LinkedIn. She says social technologies enable her to stay up to date on things happening around the country, and can easily and rapidly alert her colleagues and stakeholders of news affecting them.

Social technologies are so vital to KM, in fact, Nerida believes they're not optional tools to adopt. Librarians must have access to social technologies to be knowledge brokers to the rest of the department or organization, and manage library 2.0 initiatives.

This is placing librarians in an increasingly powerful position. They become an enabler by facilitating access and permissions to organizational knowledgebases. They are uniquely capable of filling this role, because librarians are already trusted, consulted members of the organization.

Nerida says this means librarians must be cultivating their social networking skills today, to remain on the cutting edge of their career.

She attributes this new KM era largely to the Internet. It's given us immediate information. But because virtually anyone can publish almost anything, quality has been compromised, and many people find the amount of information is overwhelming.

Librarians are needed to educate clients on the voracity of content, ensuing they find and use the best information available. This is why, she says, librarians have gone from information custodians to knowledge brokers.

Nerida is the Chair of SLA's KM division for 2009, and she talks about her goals for the upcoming year. She aims to reposition librarians out of the information space and into the knowledge space. She wants to encourage librarians to use technologies, such as social tools, to share and communicate with others, and become knowledge brokers.

Nerida will reveal more about this when she and Karen Huffman, Chair Elect of the KM Division in 2009, present a continuing education course before the SLA conference 2009. The course is slated for Saturday, June 13 in Washington, D.C., and focuses on evaluating library and research services using narrative techniques. Inmagic will be at the conference too, and is sponsoring the KM reception.

Here more of Nerida's insights by clicking play below.







Thank you and happy holidays from Inmagic

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As we approach the end of the year and look ahead to the future, I want to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of our entire company and our network of partners around the globe for your business and support this past year.

2008 will be remembered as a year of change and economic uncertainty in North America and around the globe. Despite the jittery economy, Inmagic is optimistic about the coming year, and we remain committed to your success.

In 2009 we will continue to invest in our products and services while at the same time providing you cost-effective solutions that meet the challenges of today's volatile economic climate.

As we all acknowledge those among us who are struggling this holiday season, we are deeply grateful for the longstanding support and positive working relationships we have with all of you.

From all of us at Inmagic, please accept our heartfelt thanks for your continued support, and best wishes for a peaceful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

SLA spirit fingers!

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We're in the spirit of giving, and with that comes some unique spirit for the Special Libraries Association (SLA). We donated $500 to SLA's Campaign for Tomorrow, a program to raise funding to support the now 100-year-old association.

As part of the campaign, SLA is posting pictures of its donors on its Campaign for Tomorrow gallery. You can see us there too. It's a shot of our crew from the SLA conference 2008.

SLA has helped its members and the special library industry make tremendous strides through its education, networking, and advocacy services. We're proud to support SLA and the opportunities it continues to provide to its members and partners. Once agian, many thanks for the hard work and dedication of the volunteers and leaders who make it all happen!

Pump up the jam

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Just when you thought we couldn't possibly use the word "social" any more frequently on the blog, we're kicking it up a notch. And to do so, we're using *drum roll!* the "social volume knob."



But before I completely drown myself out, let me explain what a social volume knob is, and why it's important. It's the next step in our Road to Social Knowledge Networks, and the little caveat I mentioned in my last installment.

Social knowledge networks allow vetted information -- such as documents, images, videos, presentations, RSS feeds, and so on -- to be enhanced and informed by comments, ratings, and other feedback from the community. This combination of top down and bottom up information is how we create social intelligence.

But social intelligence must be cultivated, planned, and nurtured. This is where a social volume knob becomes crucial. A social volume knob is the strategy organizations use to control who provides what knowledge to the SKN, and how they do so.

Organizations can set these parameters using rich security, access, and permission functionality. So, depending on the company, the community that is allowed to provide feedback can run the gamut from a small, hand-picked group of domain experts, to a broader set of individuals.

Each contributor's access capabilities can be adjusted, so perhaps one person can blog, rate, and comment, while another can just comment -- and only on certain content. This lets vetted information retain its veracity, and provides control over what content gets socialized, and how.

Otherwise, you have a free-for-all of opinions without authority. Consider Wikipedia. Any regular reader to our blog is all too familiar with my opinions on Wikipedia. While hugely successful and helpful for certain situations, its information sorely lacks veracity.

The same can be true in an enterprise environment, where you end up with what I call "social spam." It's similar to e-mail spam, but in a social media setting. This is the bad information provided by non-experts. Using social tools requires some level of control and mediation. You need rules.

That's also why info professionals must be at the center of the SKN and social library equation. They are knowledge management professionals trained to organize information. They understand the user community, and who is best equipped to create and act on content.

Info professionals create the environment necessary to publish content, and develop knowledge communities around that content. This includes implementing a knowledge strategy to ensure contributors are helping to build, maintain, and manage the social library in a logical, organized fashion.

Key take-away: All social knowledge networks need a social volume knob for quality control.

And with that kernel of knowledge, we've reached the end of the Road to Social Knowledge Networks! But no journey is complete without a look back on the lessons learned, and a look ahead to where we go from here. That will be the subject of next week's post.

More reason to be a librarian in 2009

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There's reason to welcome 2009 with open arms. In case you haven't heard, U.S. News and World Report named librarian as one of the top 30 careers in the new year.

It's encouraging to see librarians on this list, and it confirms something we’ve been seeing at Inmagic for several years.

Librarians have emerged into dynamic info pros, people with a finger on the pulse of new information and the latest technologies. They are often the ones driving fresh ways of collaborating and networking.

They are also required to manage increasingly vast types and amounts of information, and their role is becoming more important to organizations’ knowledge management initiatives.

It’s no wonder the special library space is the fastest growing in the field. It’s a fast-track to developing core knowledge management experience, and now more cutting-edge social knowledge networking skills.

Congrats to Robin Hastings!

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One of our favorite info pros, Robin Hastings, just got a book deal. Congrats, Robin!

Get smart

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No, I'm not talking about Steve Carell's latest movie with Anne Hathaway or the more vintage TV version with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. I'm talking about what happens when book smarts and street smarts align, and social knowledge networks collide. Welcome to the next step in our Road to Social Knowledge Networks.

Last week I told you what SKNs are. Today, I'm exploring why you should care, and what happens when organizations use them.

With social knowledge networks, the goal is to reach a state where core knowledge is collected, organized, accessible; and then where it can be enhanced, embraced, and informed by the wisdom of the community. So what can you gain from it?

Productivity. SKNs are not about the technology. They're about you and your organization becoming more efficient by accessing reliable information you can use to make better business decisions and achieve organizational objectives.

Wisdom. SKNs connect people by the problem they are solving, and break down department boundaries. Information takes many forms, with an SKN heterogeneous data is easily accessed and shared. And the wisdom of the community is tightly connected to the content and is crucial to the creation of value.

Truth. In SKNs, socialization is content-centric. There is no "separate but equal." Rather, there is a tight integration between content and social commentary to make the information more relevant, easier to find, and of higher value.

SKNs create an environment where internal documents, subscription research, and other vetted information makes users book smart,



and where the advice of colleagues makes users street smart.



Problems that could not previously be solved and insights that could not previously be gained, are discovered. We call this new level of intelligence "social intelligence."

Key take-away: Social knowledge networks are about finding the truth and enabling social intelligence.

If you're wondering what the fine print to all this might be, your curiosity will soon be satisfied. I'll explain the caveat next week.

Context is king

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After reading this article by Jim Brown on the Manufacturing Business and Technology blog, I was reminded of a post I wrote a little while back about using social knowledge networks in engineering. I added my two cents on the value prop engineers can gain from using social technologies. But as you can read in my comment, context surrounding the social information, as well as security, are vital to unlocking these benefits.

Social media after its growth spurt

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Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes from UMass Dartmouth recently presented findings from her study on the adoption of social media in the Inc. 500 companies at the Gilbane Boston conference. I had the pleasure of listening to her fascinating presentation, and would like to share some of her observations here.

This is the second of her studies of the Inc. 500’s adoption of social media. Over the past year, she has found, amazingly, the rate of adoption and understanding of social media is extremely rapid.

Her research "proves conclusively that social media has penetrated parts of the business world at a tremendous speed." Incredibly, "familiarity" with and the usage of social technologies has nearly doubled in that time frame.

Those respondents who stated that social media was "very important to their business/marketing strategy" jumped from just over 25 percent to 44 percent within the past 12 months.

These incredible statistics are a great validating point for solution providers like Inmagic. They confirm the trends we have been seeing within our own customer community, with companies becoming more aware of and using social technologies to facilitate collaboration, knowledge retention, and improvements in personal productivity.

What’s important to remember, however, is that while awareness and adoption of social tools within companies is rapidly increasing, it is their continued usage over the coming years that will be the most crucial metric to examine.

Social technologies only realize their full potential when people are given a context, that is, a reason for using them and connecting with their community. Project teams, shared problems, and shared processes cause communities to grow.

Often this growth is fueled by content around which they are collaborating or connecting -- such as documents, images, videos, spreadsheets, reports, etc. The content is the key element of this context. Without it, social tools will not fulfill their impressive potential within organizations.

We have seen many cases where social media technologies were implemented within organizations so that social networks could be created. The goal was to allow the workforce to collaborate more easily, and, ultimately, allow it to be more productive and innovative.

However, many of these initiatives have failed because communities failed to flourish. Why? Because, in the absence of a direct, tangible reason to use them (i.e., what's in it for me, how will this help me do my job better/faster?), they didn't gain a foothold.

These initiatives are most successful when workers are given a reason, a context for creating a social network. This is the essence of a social knowledge network.

It is thanks to industry minds such as Dr. Ganim Barnes that we all can gain a deeper understanding of the impact of new technologies. With it, we can be even more innovative in how we bring these technologies to our customer communities.

Dogfooding and other 2.0isms

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As a non-Gen Xer or Millennial, the idea of turning nouns into verbs is a little weird. But it seems to go along with the general 2.0 territory. So today I'm inventing a new word: dogfooding.

To lay the groundwork, I'd like to touch on the concept of "verbing" nouns. (There we go again!) Apparently, the practice is quite old. Shakespeare did it. "He childed as I fathered," says Edgar in King Lear, Act III, Scene 6.

More recently, "A Calvin and Hobbes strip dealt with this phenomenon, concluding with the statement that 'verbing weirds language,'" according to Wikipedia's entry on Verbification.

We all know that one of the beauties of language is that it is dynamic and ever-changing. But in most cases, I find verbing to be annoying rather than nuanced. Fortunately or unfortunately, verbing is all the rage, and its usage is on the rise with the 2.0-ifcation of the world. Be that as it may, today I will be verbing.

Dogfooding comes from the Microsoft-coined phrase, "Eat your own dog food." It means use your own products, or in more general speak, practice what you preach.

We started dogfooding recently at Inmagic. We have a Presto 3.0 knowledgebase (KB) that we use to store internal technical specifications, downloads, FAQs, etc. We use it to help keep the implementation teams, Professional Services Group, and partners up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the Presto world.

We also socialized the KB. Partners can now provide us feedback on the quality of our FAQs, comment on the tech docs, rate wishlist items, etc. The socialization is great. The KB is no longer a one-way communication vehicle to our partners. Rather, it's a place where we're all able to collaborate together.

We now have Presto clients in North America, Europe, and the South Pacific. This is a terrific vehicle for 24x7 access to key, vetted documentation from Inmagic, but now, also the tips and techniques from implementation teams around the world. So, we are dogfooding with Social Presto, and boy, is it tasty!

Hey Inmagic, your holiday is showing!

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Paul pretty much sums up our holiday party in this shot. Unfortunately, it's a little blurry, but you get the "picture."



A great time was had by all. Thanks again to Paul and his wife for hosting! Check out more pictures from the party at our Flickr page.

Even Yankee Swapping can be socialized

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I love a holiday party. And I love a Yankee Swap. I get to emcee the annual Inmagic Yankee Swap. It’s just one of my jobs. For those of you that don't know what Yankee Swap is, here's one variant of the basic rules.

We held our Yankee Swap the other week, and I want you to know that this is not your average game. Inmagic holds a Yankee Swap 2.0. What makes it a 2.0 Swap? I’ll tell you, but first, here is a 2.0 representation of the swap:



This isn’t all the gifts, but it’s a good representation of what the Swap was all about. As you can see, the Scotch was the most popular gift because it moved around a lot. The two Snickers bars were not all that popular. And a bunch of people went out and grabbed Dunkin' Donuts gift cards at the last minute.

Our Yankee Swap violates one 2.0’ism, however. We make the rules complex. But this just makes the Swap more FUN!

The key innovation we employ is the following: We choose who gets to start the final round by using a measure of the gift’s popularity. We call this "gift velocity." Gift velocity is measured by how often the gift is taken from its current owner by someone during the Swap. Thus, gift velocity measures a gift's popularity.

We reward the person that brings the most popular gift with the right to start the final round. This means they get to choose and keep any gift in the room.

What I really like about this rule is that it provides an incentive for people to bring good gifts. The rule worked really well this year, with tons of great stuff contributed. We establish a $15 limit, but some people are clearly challenged in the area.

We wrapped up the festivities with a holiday party graciously hosted by our CEO, Paul Puzzanghera, and his wife at their home. The food was delicious, the conversation lively, and a good time was had by all (and all had a good night). Photos from the night are on their way.

So remember, the Web and library aren't the only things being socialized. At Inmagic, we really like our Social Yankee Swap and the benefits that come with socialization.

Our gift to our neighbors in need

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Our customers are the lifeblood of our company, as they are for most companies. It goes without saying they deserve a special expression of appreciation, especially during these tough economic times.

We made a donation to the Woburn Council for Social Concern in the name of our customers. It's our way of showing gratitude for their support of our company, while giving back to our neighbors in need. The Council of Social Concern helps over 2,400 people every year, providing quality child care, parenting and wellness education, food assistance, and more.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Social library is back -- but for good?

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As Phil so eloquently opined the other day, "the social library is back." But now that it's here, is it destined to never leave? Will there be a day when special libraries are completely social?

I got to thinking about this when I read this article on U Penn's Knowledge @ Wharton blog. It explores the possibility of the Web becoming entirely social, as information discovery increasingly involves social networking activities.

I wanted to leave my two cents, but the site has closed it's commenting window. (It's open for 30 days after the article is published.) Alas, I will leave my comment here! These are my thoughts:

Great article, really makes you think about the power of social technologies. Pondering the future of an entirely social Web is not unlike some of the thoughts circulating the special library space right now.

The role of the librarian (corporate, academic, or otherwise) is one of content provider and content user. Because their unique role is at the crux of content and social technologies, special libraries have a good chance of emerging as the poster-child for effective social strategies.

Right now, I think the big question is around timing. How long until special libraries make the jump to being completely social?

What do you think? Will libraries become entirely social? When? And will it last?

See you at CIL!

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We're pretty big on tradeshows here at Inmagic, so it should come as no surprise that we're ramping up for another one. We're Virginia-bound in March for the Computers in Libraries 2009 conference.

It'll be the 24th meeting in the conference's history. This year's theme is "Creating Tomorrow: Spreading Ideas & Learning." There'll be workshops, exhibitions, keynotes, evening sessions, and more, all focused on the latest digital tools and techniques in the library and information spaces.

Plenty of exciting things about information discovery, visualization methods, building communities, and online engagement are on tap. We'll be bringing our technologies to the mix at booth 1018.

If you're interesting in attending CIL, mark your calendar for March 30 to April 1. It'll be at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington.

We'll keep you updated as we plan for the show!

What is a social knowledge network, anyway??

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We've been talking about social knowledge networks a lot, and have described them in various ways on the blog. But today, you're in for a full serving of social knowledge networks with all the fixins'. It's the next and final stage along the Road to Social Knowledge Networks, and I'll detail exactly what the heck they are.

Now that we're at the final step of our journey, I like to say we've reached nirvana. The ideal destination for today's info pro. (But this is not to say there's no room for improvement and innovation. We believe SKNs are the nirvana of today, and there inevitably will be new nirvanas in the future as technology and needs evolve.)

In a nutshell, we define SKNs as a tight integration of a knowledge repository and social media. It is a place where socialization is "content centric." Core knowledge, also known as top-down or vetted information, is collected, organized and made accessible. This might include internal documents, news and research.

This knowledge can then be embraced and enhanced by the community, aptly dubbed "wisdom of the community," or bottom-up information. This consists of people's knowledge, opinions, and feedback about vetted information. In the SKN, the top down and bottom up information remain tightly integrated in the core repository using context-based social tools, including comments, ratings, tagging and tag clouds, and blogging.



What we have, then, is a centralized knowledgebase that keeps getting smarter, as info pros and users alike improve the content using social tools. This lets organizations achieve what we call "social intelligence." It is the state where problems are solved and insights are gained through a knowledge repository, collaboration, and context-based social tools.

This is, of course, the goal. A social knowledge network is a one-stop shop for information. It's a secure place where content and social media can be controlled, and the community can enhance and inform the content.

Key take-away: Knowledge is more than vetted research, books, or image repositories. And it's more than social communications and networking. It's the combination of the two: social knowledge networks.

So what, you say? Well, just as the central knowledgebase keeps getting smarter, so does the organization, and in more ways than one. More on the business benefits of SKNs next week.

Social library says, "I'm baaaack"

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If you're reading this blog, you probably know about the social library phenomena and popular courses such as “Five Weeks to a Social Library.” But are social libraries really all that new, or are they being reinvented for a dramatic comeback?

A look back in history reveals the answer. Social libraries were, in fact, the precursor to special libraries, becoming popular in the 19th century. At this time, the social moniker had two key meanings. One, patrons usually paid some sort of fee or subscription to become a member or owner. And two, the library provided a “social good.”

According to the Social Law Library of Boston, becoming a social library was “the legislative method that avoided taxing citizens by incorporating and empowering a private group to collect user fees and to conduct essentially ‘public services.’”

Some social libraries grew into public libraries serving the community as a whole. But many social libraries remained focused on certain areas of interest serving specific communities. This might have included law, medicine, insurance, etc. In fact, at least one SLA charter member, the Insurance Library Association of Boston, was originally established as a social library.

So, why the history lesson? As we contemplate the future of the special library and ponder what role social media will play, we have to remember we have deep roots in providing a “social good” to members.

Social media might open the door to a future where patrons are no longer owners, as they were with early social libraries. Instead, patrons could be on track become crucial contributors of content.

This relationship is Inmagic’s vision of the new social library. Content is sourced, organized, and made accessible by the library, and the community can enhance and add value to that content. This way, the social library becomes an interactive publishing environment. Data moves into the knowledge repository or catalog in a top down, or traditional, manner, while also in a bottom up, or social media, manner.

But for this library of the future to become a reality, librarians and info pros are tasked with taking the helm, and embracing these new technologies and processes. We're already seeing this happen within our customer base. The synergy between vetted content and social media is dramatic and of high value to these organizations.

Remember, vetted content alone can make you book smart. But a 21st century organization is looking for ways to foster global collaboration among its staff, and allow the advice and counsel of more experienced personnel to make everyone in the organization “street smart.” This combination of book and street smarts is powerful. And now, it is possible.

If you do not help your special library become a social one, you risk losing its relevancy, as other collaboration and content management initiatives siphon off increasing amounts of content. That's why important to join the comeback. What’s old is new. The social library is back!

Social Presto hits CMSWire

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Chelsi Nakano covered Social Presto today on CMSWire. It's always a bit nerve-wracking when you release a new product, anticipating the feedback from the industry and market. But we were very excited to see a positive article from Chelsi today. Thank you for featuring us!

KM and SM: Couldn't find a happier couple

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Having discussed this issue with many customers, I've got to say that Venkatesh Rao's post claiming that we have a "war" going on between KM and SM is nonsense.

The truth is much closer to Jeff Kelly’s post. KM and SM are at peace. In fact, Jeff really gets it right when he says, "Social media actualizes the idealism of KM." Let me explain.

We know the purpose of a knowledge management system is to capture knowledge and create an environment where it's easily accessed and reused. So if the goal is clear and the benefit is high, why have KM systems suffered from the failed-implementation syndrome?

The answer is at the heart of the disagreement represented between Venkatesh and Jeff. In the 90s, some KM systems failed because they required business process re-engineering. This is a fancy way to say they required people to change the way they did things to accommodate the KM system. These changes usually took place in the knowledge capture phase.

In fact, how many times did we hear these words? "The KM initiative must have senior management support," or, "We need to put knowledge capture incentives in place," or, "Adding content must now be part of the performance measurement system."

These and similar statements are just other ways of saying this: It took a huge carrot (like a bonus) or a huge stick (like the threat of being fired) to get people to contribute knowledge to the KM system. No wonder it's been labeled with and tainted by the failed-implementation tag.

The beauty of social media is that it changes all of this. People use social media without threats or incentives. Social media tools are not arcane the way many knowledge capture modules were in traditional KM systems. They are simple and intuitive. What could be easier that a blog, a tag, or a comment?

This trend parallels with the search revolution. Prior to Yahoo and Google, search was a job for a professional. (Go on, admit it. You know dialog search syntax!) But Yahoo and Google simplified search, and we quickly learned how to master the art of searching.

The same holds true for social media. We have learned to add comments in Amazon, tag articles in Delicious, edit pages in Wikipedia, and blog on our favorite blogging platform. Now that we're trained, we're willing to use these tools at work in the context and cause of a knowledge management initiative. You see, KM and SM are simply two sides of the same coin.

There is no war between KM and SM. Rather, there is a convergence of technologies and perspectives. Social media tools and constructs allow easy, intuitive conversation and knowledge capture from the community in a manner that invites and entices participation.

Without the need for the carrot and stick, we are off to the races. KM initiatives can and will increasingly succeed as long as KM vendors and practitioners adapt and learn their social media lessons.

Kumbaya, my friends, Kumbaya

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You've probably sung, chanted, hummed, or otherwise butchered this song at least once in your life. But, my fellow crooners, did you know the meaning of your words? Gather round the campfire, folks. It's time to find out, because Kumbaya is the topic of today's Road to Social Knowledge Networks chapter.

The meaning of Kumbaya is disputed. But it's often loosely translated from African dialect as "come by here." The folk song is largely associated with unity and closeness, but is has more recently come to connote a naively optimistic view on life.



Let's apply this to knowledge management. In the state of Kumbaya, organizations have embraced social media technologies. They might be blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Flickring, YouTubing, Deliciousing, and ing-ing with every other social media tool out there. They think they're taking the right approach to foster knowledge sharing, but are unaware they've, in fact, thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

These organizations have abandoned traditional methods of organizing information, and moved to a purely social media environment. Their thinking is that this model will solve their information management and collaboration problems, which I've touched upon in previous chapters.

To them I say, Whoa, Nelly. Don't get carried away. The results of taking a purely social approach to knowledge management can be disastrous, for a few reasons.

First, due to what I like to call the Wikipedia phenomenon. Wikipedia is 100 percent user-generated information. Some users are experts in their subject matter, and provide accurate and reliable information. Others are amateurs, polluting the repository with inaccurate data and bad links.

That's why Wikipedia's validity can, and often is, questioned. The information has low veracity. But just a moment, you say. Third party research (such as this study by the journal Nature) shows Wikipedia to be about as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica.

My response is simple. At a recent conference presentation, I asked the audience, "How many of you used Wikipedia?" Everybody raised their hand.

When I asked, "How many of you have brought a Wikipedia article into a business meeting and used it as critical data on which to make a business decision?" No one raised their hand. Sorry Wikipedia fans. Veracity matters.

This leads to another consequence of purely social KM models. I refer to it as "social spam." Just like e-mail spam, social spam is information you don't want. This is the bad information provided by non-experts. These non-experts can end up contradicting the experts and telling them they are wrong.

What's an uninformed knowledge seeker to do? Who do they listen to? Who do they trust? Consider this. A blog gives its authors a megaphone to voice their knowledge and opinions. But opening the blog to the entire organizational community gives every worker a megaphone. You're left with a situation that looks like this:



When building a high-quality knowledge repository, organizations must control who contributes information, and how. Using social tools in an organization requires mediation and management, which is the role of the librarian. Everyone can't have a megaphone.

This is the opposite of what you need, want, or get from using a consumer SM site, or by moving to a purely social KM environment. In this case, Kumbaya isn't so comforting.

Key take-away: Purely social KM models weaken veracity and create chaos. In an enterprise knowledge repository, access to high-quality assets is key, and avoiding chaos is crucial.

Next week, I'll tell you how to achieve this.

Social media vs. KM debate rages on

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Much hay has been made of Venkatesh Rao's recent piece appearing on the Enterprise 2.0 Blog, "Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War." One of the latest reactions I came across is this blog post on Social Computing Magazine by Jeff Kelly.

Jeff believes Venkatesh is entertaining notions of a non-existent war between social media advocates and knowledge management advocates. I agree, for reasons you can read in my comment on the post.

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