Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jack Vinson's Summary of Blogging in His KM Class

Jack Vinson is wrapping up his knowledge management class and posted a summary of the flogging (forced blogging) experience: Blogging in a KM class - summary.

I was particularly interested in the response of the class to whether blogs could be a useful KM tool:
  • "Blogs are just another technology."
  • "Blogs need to be implemented as a part of a larger system where "knowledge" is a primary component."
  • "The inherent disorder of blogs could be a detriment to considering them a part of a KM strategy."
All are true for blogs on the internet, but not necessarily true for blogs within the enterprise.

Blogs are just another technology. The blogging software is mostly doing just what Frontpage (or your webpage editor of choice) did. But the blogging software is much easier to use. I am just using a web browser with the simple controls supplied by Blogger. Simplicity removes a barrier to use and deployment.

Knowledge is always a primary component to a blog. You blog about what you know or what you find. Blogs on the internet are all over the place on topic and value. Inside an enterprise a person's blog should be focused around their work. Therefore the blog inside the enterprise would be capturing the blogger's knowledge about their role in the enterprise. Ross Mayfield just posted a story on a weird internal blog.

I do not agree with disorder position for two reasons. One, I think there will be few blogs inside the enterprise. With few, it is harder to have disorder. Second, the information gathered in a blog is typically already disorganized somewhere else or is just in the blogger's head. A blog allows information to be gathered and therefore creates some order. Inside the enterprise, the personal knowledge management inherent in a blog is made available across the enterprise and therefore becomes knowledge management for the enterprise.


  1. This is an interesting example of how missing context and differing mental models can change the flow of opinion formation. Reading just your posting I do not disagree with your comments; however, I am one of the sources of a few of the comments with which you seemingly disagree. So I am now wondering whether there is some disconnect because of the phrasing used and mental models/focus from which the class started.

    Blogs are just another technology-In looking at blogs with a knowledge management lens (as the class required), I would suggest that many, if not most, of what they accomplish can be done using other technologies such as email, document management systems, highly organized LANs, meetings, etc. Admittedly the use of some of those technologies are not as intuitive, but my point was that blogs are "just another technology" with which to communicate and we should be managing the use of them to leverage their benefits and minimizing their drawbacks in managing the knowledge in an enterprise.

    On the disorder point, I still stand that if you have a mature community, blogging at will even within the basic parameters of their work experiences, that there are frequent links out to other blogs for big chunks of information that link to others and then others and yet others. There are also the blogs about blogs rather than comments attached to the original like yours here did, that it makes (from a KM perspective)for messy/disordered. Finding all the necessary and germain stuff becomes too time-intensive to assert that it is effective management of knowledge. It is also open to missed capture of critical information as a result of the paths you follow in the spider webs of blogs because there is little to no heirarchy/valuation of the knowledge.

    However, I will give you that it is better to have made knowledge move from a head to a blog if you will give me that the blog is currently just an additional technology in our communications portfolio and that processes should probably be in place to mine the blogs for "valuable/necessary knowledge" so that it can be put in a less disordered (read more easily found)tool. I would offer an alternative of making blogs more orderly, but then that would remove some of the beauty, purpose and simplicity that they bring to the table.

    So it finally occurs to me that I see blogs as the data in a SQL database. It is there and if you know SQL and have some patience, you can find all the related bread crumbs of data in the various tables, but it is a whole lot easier to have a GUI interface with some predefined searching parameters to bring the breadcrumbs together for you, especially when you do not know SQL.

  2. kilouie - You are right. A blog is just another communications tool. Most blogs (this one included) have no chain of thought or story. They have random bits of information and links all over the place. They are not a good management tool, but they are good knowledge collection tool.

    Inside an organization, I think wikis are the more powerful tool. They allow you to collect, compile and edit the information. It is a better paradigm rather the stream of information from a blog.

    I treat this blog as personal knowledge management tool. See:

    The harvesting of information should be easy to accomplish with an enterprise search tool. Point it at the blog platform and let it run. We are rolling out blogs as part of the Sharepoint 2007 platform. So the blog platform is built into the intranet and the search. That makes it a nice unified package.


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