K-Logs and Taxonomies -- and -- Radio Community Server for Intranets
- Dear K-Loggers,
Over the past 7 years I have spent lots of time thinking and building taxonomies (basically organizing information by topic or category). What I have found to be a rule is: everybody has a different way of organizing information/knowledge that is right for them. A good example of this is how people use folders for their e-mail. I would bet a significant sum of cash that my folder structure is entirely different from yours. The way I organize it makes a lot of sense to me while yours makes sense to you. Many people don't organize it at all and prefer the massive inbox. In contrast, K-Logs use an organizational mechanism that is understood by everyone: K-Logs are organized by time and by individual.
Both methods attempt to provide order to information and knowledge via the Intranet. Both are ways to capture information.
What I have found is that taxonomy tools aren't a great way to capture information from a large group of people. They are too difficult to use. They also typically reflect the "knowledge structure" of a single individual or a small group of individuals (the KM priesthood). So, people that don't agree with the structure tend not to participate. Also, these efforts tend to fall behind. The amount of knowledge and information produced in an organization usually outpaces the ability of small group, trained in how the taxonomy works, to keep up. On the Internet we can see this happening with the directories at DMOZ and Yahoo. The same holds true within any organization.
Contrast this to K-Logging. K-Logging tools are easy enough to use and understand that you can get very high rates of participation. This means that the amount of knowledge that is published to the Intranet is much greater than via any other system. It is also organized in a way that makes sense to people without specialized training. The combination of search tools and community stats can help people quickly find the people and the knowledge they need to get the job done. In my view, K-Logs are the only way to get control over the information glut that almost all organizations are experiencing.
However, it is possible, once a K-Logging culture is in place to utilize taxonomy tools (tools like Wikis and Traction Software) to organize K-Log generated information into a larger whole. The key to success is to first lay the groundwork with a K-Log network and then leverage it after it begins to produce results. K-Logging puts the knowledge into a format that makes it easier to manipulate by a taxonomy tool. Longer term, I think most organizations will use combinations of the two types of tools to turn the Intranet into a rich, vibrant, and growing knowledge repository.
In response to the question about the Radio Community Server (RCS). Yes, organizations are deploying the RCS on Intranets. Radio is a personal K-Logging tool that enables you to publish to the Intranet and receive news headlines from sites that interest you. The RCS package makes it easy for organizations to build networks of Radio K-Logs. It provides community stats necessary for people to find each other and to find the most utilized resources. The RCS also provides IT people the administration framework necessary to smoothly manage a network of K-Logs.
My recommendation to organizations that want to build a K-Log network on their Intranet is to deploy the following: A Manila server (with an integrated RCS) and Radio on every desktop. This configuration provides the following:
1) Manila provides a complete content management system for building standard Intranet sites (informational pages, directories, etc.). So, if your Intranet is a collection of static Web pages, Manila can get you into the modern world very quickly. Since Manila allows end-user editing of published Web pages, you can delegate control of the content on specific areas of the site to designated content owners. These people can edit the site using a WYSIWYG form on the browser. This saves money -- I c can't tell you how often I have been told that to correct a spelling mistake on a Web page it often costs a $100 or more to get a designer to do the work at many companies.
2) Radio provides a way for individuals to publish their own K-Logs and subscribe to a myriad of news sources (as well as each other).
3) The RCS provides Radio users with community pages for internetworking with each other. It also provides administration controls for IT (if needed).
4) Manila can provide K-Logs to people that don't have a desktop PC (students). It can also provide a way for groups or teams to edit a single K-Log (it includes discussion groups, site membership, e-mail bulletins, etc.).
Basically, this configuration allows you to get up and going quickly. It can also be implemented for very few dollars in a short period of time. In comparison to the portal software, high-end content management systems, or e-learning packages that I have seen, this purchase is a no-brainer (50 times less expensive than alternatives). Further, after you get the basics up, the system is very easy to customize to provide functionality that is specific to your organization. FWIW, if I was currently running Plumtree or Vignette on my Intranet, I would scrap it in favor of this system in a heart-beat. The savings on the license fees, expensive administration support, and the development costs of new capability alone would pay for this many times over in less than a year. On top of that, you would finally have an Intranet that was useful to people on a daily basis.
Hope this helps.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]