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Lucas McDonnell takes KM head on

We started off light and easy when we introduced you to Lucas McDonnell last week in our Info Pro-file Q&A. We learned about his background and what he likes to blog about on Today, we're bringing you the second half of Janelle's interview with Lucas, where they dive head first into KM trends and technologies.

Lucas has some really interesting ideas about where KM technologies are going, and what their future looks like. We round out the interview with his productivity tips for getting more out of the day, and what he likes to do in his free time.

JK: What trends, news, and technologies are you following right now?

LM: One trend that particularly interests me is the (very slow) move toward more uses of cloud computing and Web-hosted applications. Google's got their online Google Docs product, and it looks like they'll be releasing their online storage GDrive sometime soon.

I'm also very interested in information and knowledge distribution technologies (namely things like RSS and other types of syndication and mobile information retrieval), as well as other more general topics like the future of desktop operating systems and the impact this has on the way we interact with information.

On the non-technology side, I'm always interested in knowledge sharing in general, and its very different manifestations throughout the work (and non-work) world.

JK: What do you think they hold for the future of knowledge management?

LM: Hopefully movement towards Web-based apps means less need for mundane, knowledge-shallow tasks within organizations. (Although outsourcing at one time seemed to promise this, and there still seems to be no shortage of mundane tasks still at large throughout most organizations.)

The key is not only moving the technology onto the Web, but actually figuring out how to move the whole application and its associated work out into the Web world, and doing it cheaper than you can do it in-house.

As far as distribution technologies go, I think we're getting close to hitting the desktop threshold for things like RSS. I'd argue that pretty much everybody that's interested in RSS has got it on their desktop (although some people who are using things like iGoogle may not even know they're using it!).

Making RSS readily available to mobile users seems to be the next logical step -- but I don't think the technology or the user savvy is really there yet. 'Value-added' RSS seems to also be an important next step -- not just aggregating relevant content, but figuring out a way to add some richness to that content that the user couldn't go out and do on their own even if they had the time.

Finally, as far as knowledge sharing goes, humans have been doing it for far to long to quit now. It's how we've gotten as far as we have as a species, so let's do it both effectively as responsibly.

JK: How important do you think the trend towards social libraries is?

LM: 'Social' anything seems to be all the rage at the moment, yet spaces like libraries have always been a social space (albeit often only tacitly). Technology seems to only now be starting to catch up to what we do very effectively as human beings: socialize, recommend, and reject.

In the case of libraries, the online social elements also don't always fly -- since any online social iteration usually needs a critical mass to really get started (and for smaller libraries, this is often tough to achieve).

Not to mention the fact that keeping up the momentum within a social space often depends on a user base that can be fickle -- even if the critical mass question is solved, it's often tough to keep things going.

While I think there are definitely opportunities for libraries (and other public spaces), a good dose of realism is often needed as well as people get excited about those opportunities.

JK: What do you like to read, for entertainment and professionally?

LM: I enjoy reading history (I think it gives us a great perspective on essentially how we all got to where we are), but I have a terrible memory for facts and figures. So while I may have read lots of history, don't ask me about dates!

In terms of staying up-to-date on knowledge management, I use a combination of custom Google news searches and blog RSS feeds. It provides me with far more than I could ever read, but I try to spend 30 or 40 minutes a day scanning my pages of feeds.

JK: Do you have any productivity tips to get more out of each day?

LM: Stop checking your e-mail! This is one of the few tips that has actually worked for me, and when I actually have the self-discipline to apply it, I see a marked improvement in how much I can get done in a day. Well, of course, I can't stop checking it entirely, but limiting how often I check it really does work for me.

JK: If you had more time in the day, what would you like to do more of?

LM: Besides get an extra hour of sleep? I would probably read a book. I usually read before I go to bed, but by then, I'm too tired to read more than a few pages. (This is usually the only time I get to read stuff that's not work-related.) I always mean to take a book and read for an hour on the weekend, but there just never seems to be time. So as unexciting as it sounds, I'd have to go with reading.

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