RSS newsfeeds in combination with Weblogs offers a very powerful solution for knowledge management. Many of the new CMS driven Weblog tools now offer RSS syndication for posted content. The increasingly ubiquitous small orange xml button on Weblogs tells you which sites offer this service. All you need to do to subscribe is click on the button, copy the URL of the page it takes you to, and paste that URL in the subscription area of your K-Log client software. From that point on, new content from the subscribed site is retrieved for you every hour.
What makes this particularly powerful is that you can now subscribe to the K-Logs of other employees and management automatically. Unlike the vast majority of news you normally get from external media, the news sent to you from K-Logs is relevant to getting your job done. It is even more powerful when you can easily take this content, annotate it, and post it to your own K-Log. In that way, simple information posted by another workgroup member can quickly be upgraded through additional insight provided by the posting author.
Here is an example: Say I am a new sales manager for Canadian sales at company X. One of the first tools I am given when I get to work is a K-Log tool. Instructions provided to me by the Intranet tell me to go to the subscriptions page of my K-Log client. There is a list of all the company's K-Logs organized by department. To subscribe, all I need to do is click on checkbox next to their name and hit submit. Further, the Intranet directions tell me I can also add subscriptions to other Weblogs by following the cut and paste procedure outlined above (sites like Syndic8 have a huge list of RSS newsfeeds available for subscription).
Now that I am subscribed (connected), I get new posts to all subscribed sites in the news section of my K-Log client. When I see something interesting, like a recent post by the head of sales in regards to how to sell a new product, I can quickly post it to my K-Log with an annotation by hitting a post button button next to the newsfeed. In fact, I have developed a presentation my team can use to sell the product, so I post a link to that presentation with my annotation (the presentation was sent to my Intranet K-Log by placing it in my K-Log upstream folder).
What did I just do? I took raw information from the head of sales and added improvements to it for my team via an annotation. My post is also a written record, posted my K-Log, of the fact that I told my team about this info on a specific date (this is very important for distributed work groups). From the perspective of the head of sales, I can now see who in my organization got my news and how they processed it (by looking at the annotation). I also can take a look at the linked presentation, and if it is good enough, may opt to include it as a general resource for the rest of the sales teams. Try this process with e-mail and see how quickly it breaks down.
Since RSS is xml it could be combined with other applications. Properly categorized RSS feeds (via author generated categories or automated search based on keywords) could be fed into a sales automation system and repurposed. It could also be used to populate group K-Logs in the marketing, PR, and IT departments. For example, an ad-hoc category dedicated to sales wins would be a fantastic marketing resource. Information on what combination of sales technique, presentation, product features, and collateral that made the sale possible is something that would be of unique value.
Features that could improve RSS for K-Loggers include prioritization, categorization, and control over the length of time the news is stored. However, the basic functionality should yield vast improvements over current information routing present in most corporations.