Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Online Interaction Enhancing Face-to-Face Interaction

Stephen Collins of Acidlabs shared his recent experience of his first face-to-face meeting with an on-line friend: Shattering barriers.

"[T]hrough use of social media tools, people who work around the corner or across the world from each other are able to overcome the challenges around meeting and learning about someone (colleague, friend, someone who shares an interest, whatever) and jump straight in and do great work, share knowledge, have engaging conversations and build relationships to a deeper level more quickly."
I had an analogous experience when running into a co-worker that I had not seen for weeks. We are both "friends" in Facebook, so we each see the feed the information and status updates that the other makes. We both said: "It feels like we talk every day."

The power of social media is not that it replaces face-to-face interaction, but that it enhances face-to-face interaction. Social media can break down the barriers to first meeting a person, because you already have some background on them. Social media will give you a flow of information about the person, what they are doing and what they are thinking about.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Feeds That I Am Enjoying

As Jack Vinson put me on his list of blogs he is enjoying reading of late and Luiz Suarez put me on his list of 20 knowledge management blogs he is enjoying, I thought I would put together my own list.

I found that most of my favorite KM blogs are already on their lists. Also, as I was putting together my list I can across a post on a newspaper that recommending bookmarking. The article thought that you should go back to your favorite blogs and read them. Clearly people do not understand the power of blogs is that they push the information out to you. So I thought I would focus more on feeds rather than the sites.

Me. I have perpetual searches for references for my name and this blog. Technorati offers an RSS feed for new references as does the Google blog search. I always recommend to people that they have searches set up to see what people are saying about them.

Elusa. The blog by Luis Suarez. Back when I first started this blog, Luis gave me a pass to the Enteprise 2.0 conference in Boston. That energized me about enterprise 2.0 and how it will affect knowledge management. It was also my first experience live blogging from a conference.

Knowledge Jolt with Jack. Jack introduced me to the concept of "flogging": Forced blogging. He made each student in his knowledge management class set up and post to a blog. It seems like the best way to understand Web 2.0/social media and its possibilities within the enterprise is to hold your nose and jump in. Jack pushed his class in.

Wiki for my Team. I could not impose flogging on my knowledge management group, but I did instigate a "fwiki": forced wiki. We use a private wiki provided by PBWiki (easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). The feed does a great job of showing what has been added and deleted. This wiki has turned into a great tool to capture and communicate what the team is doing.

Facebook. The Facebook platform offers RSS feeds status updates from your friends and notifications. I do not have to go to the Facebook website to see what my friends are doing.

Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Kevin O'Keefe is an evangelist for lawyers using blogs to present their ideas and their expertise into the marketplace. He also pointed out the news story telling people to bookmark their blogs to you can return often. He was horrified.

Strategic Legal Technology. Ron Friedmann was the first person I knew who had his own website and wrote a blog.

REI Outlet's Deal of the Day. I used to be an avid outdoors adventurer B.C. (Before Child) and a big shopper at REI. REI now offers the marked down item of the day notification through RSS. I have not seen many e-commerce sites using RSS to notify its customers. I bet we may see more of this in the near future.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Gregg Easterbrook's weekly column on football. (For those of you outside the U.S., that is North American football, with enormous men wearing helmets and pads.) There are not many sportswriter who are a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly. This is the only feed on this list that comes out in a partial feed. His column is lengthy enough that I generally print it out to read. I am finding that most commercial feeds are pushed out in a partial feed, trying to direct you onto the company's website, presumably to read the ads splashed about. I used to read the Freakonomics blog posts all the time. Since they migrated over to the NY Times and the partial feed, I read the stories much less often.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SharePoint as a Social Network Tool

Microsoft won the battle to invest in Facebook. According to the New York Times, They agreed to pay $240 million for a 1.6% stake in the company . That places the value of Facebook at $15 billion.

Microsoft's SharePoint Products and Technologies Team has been working up their own take on SharePoint as a social network tool. According to the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog, Eric Charran (Senior Consultant in Microsoft Consulting Services), Dino Dato-on (SharePoint Ranger), and Greg Lang (Program Manager for Microsoft Enterprise Services Communities Tools and Infrastructure) have written a soon to be published white paper that addresses the importance of social networking in an organization and how to properly implement SharePoint's MOSS 2007 as a social networking solution.

There is an except on the website: Enabling and managing social networks (for business use) with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

One of the reasons I have been using Facebook is to see what pieces of its functionalities would add value inside the enterprise. We have a great photobook application, but it gives an incomplete and relatively static snapshot of information about the person. It should be relatively easy to pull in additional information about the person, like what matters they have worked on.

I wonder if we should be developing our own custom application or leveraging the tools that come with SharePoint. The My Sites functionality in SharePoint looks like it could be a useful platform for pulling in more information about the people inside the firm.

I assume that Microsoft is already working on an enterprise Facebook. It just seems like an obvious tool for them to develop. My guess is that SharePoint will give them the platform to do it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Social Space and Social Networks inside the Law Firm

Bruce McEwen posted a story on the value of creating more interaction among the lawyers in a law firm: Social Networks and Partners' Desks. Bruce looks to the old concept of partners sharing a desk and the proliferation of shared space at technology firms.

I looked back to one of my old posts on Microsoft using workspace design to increase collaboration. One of my goals of knowledge management is to increase the sharing of knowledge and experience. I believe attorneys like talking with each other and value a colleague's view on a problem.

Too many law firms have partners holed up in corner offices, cut off from the flow of people and interactions happening outside their door. Even worse are the law firms with attorneys working behind closed doors for most of the day. Sure we attorneys need some quiet time to review documents. But rarely does that mean I should spend the whole day holed up in my office.

One drawback to electronic legal research is that the law firm's library is no longer a place you are likely to run into a colleague. If you do, they are probably seeking a quiet place to be left alone.

What can be done?

Pool Secretaries. Instead of the 1 to 2, 1 to 3 (or greater) assignment have two secretaries servicing six attorneys. You get the workload spread out with the secretaries collaborating and sharing information. You get double the number of attorneys moving into the same space to pick up work, drop off work and get their mail. To do this you would need to standardize some procedures and workflow, such as time-keeping.

Better Coffee Stations. Most attorneys live on coffee. Starbucks seems to attract people getting work done at their tables. Put a table in the kitchen and make it a better place to mingle and run into each other.

Announce Results. Most law firms gather lots of information when new matters are opened, but do little at the end of the matter or after a significant action. Law firms should encourage attorneys notifying others in their practice group that something happened. Post that information in one of those better coffee stations.

Information Kiosks. Instead of putting all the legal research books in the library, use some interior wall space to spread periodicals, lighter reading and commonly used materials along interior walls. Put it out in the open for people to run into and then to run into each other. You can make space for someone to walk by and ask "what are you reading?" I walked through the real estate section of our library and was amazed to see some of the material there. I just don't get to the library that often.

Walk around your law firm and see what could be used to get people to run into each other and communicate.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Four Types of Search and Vivisimo's Social Search

After looking at my post on the Vivisimo Social Search, I thought back to how it relates to each of the four types of search. For those of you who missed my post from a few months ago on types of search, my studies show there to be four types of search: fetch, recall, precedent and research.

With the fetch, you have exact identifying information. For instance, with a document in the document management system you have the document number, or you have a filename and path, or a URL. Obviously, an enterprise search engine adds little to this type of document search. The social search would allow you or others to annotate that item. For instance, the law has changed and a provision in the document does not work anymore.

With the recall search, you have some distinct information about the nature of the item. You remember a matter it was associated with, who created it, when it was created, etc. With this type of search you typically get back several or many items and you need to sort through the results to find the item you were looking for. The social search may help with this sorting. For instance, if an item were tagged as the final document. Or just the opposite, the item was tagged as being an interim or discarded draft.

The research is the type of search that an enterprise search was built for. You want to find information on a topic and you may have no idea if the enterprise has any information on that topic. Information could be stored in a variety of sources/databases. The social enterprise search should pull back information that others found useful, more so than just an enterprise search. If I am looking for information on "poison pills" it would be great if the search pulled back intranet pages on the subject, documents on poison pills and personnel with experience with poison pills. It would be even better if those search results were improved with tags and annotations from others: "useful summary memo", "helped me get poison pill approved by the board", "the courts overturned this poison pill", etc.

The enterprise social search also gives you a tool to allow for or improve your search for a precedent. With a precedent search, the information that makes the item relevant is generally not in the text of the document. For instance, if I were looking for a purchase and sale agreement for a retail shopping center in Florida that is buyer favorable. The words "Florida" "retail shopping center" and "buyer favorable" may not appear in the document and if they do they may only appear once or twice. To enable this kind of search you need to harness the document collection to another database of information. The social search gives you another option. You can just add an annotation to the document that it is a "buyer favorable agreement for a retail shopping center in Florida."

Some skeptics of the social search will point out that you can already accomplish some of the same results. For instance, if you have a comments field in your document management system, you could use that comment field for annotations. The problem is that the comment field is anonymous and therefore the annotation is anonymous. I do not know if I wrote it, someone smarter than me wrote it or someone less competent wrote it.

I think Vivisimo's new search tool offers a lot of promise to improve all of the types of searching and better harness the knowledge of an enterprise.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Weather and Your Intranet

I have generally frowned on the weather display on intranet pages. But I saw this and found it interesting. This SharePoint webpart from Bamboo Solutions could display the weather for all or our offices in one place, side by side.

Comparing the weather is much more interesting, than just seeing your weather information. In LA it is always going to be sunny and 80 degrees. But that becomes much more interesting when it is displayed next to the weather in Boston (especially on a murky day)

Thanks to the SharePoint Product Group for publicizing this on the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Using Social Search to Drive Innovation through Collaboration

I sat in on this webinar sponsored by KM World. I was knocked over by the demonstration of Vivisimo's new Velocity 6.0 search tool.

Lynda Moulton from the Gilbane Group started off the presentation.

Clustering and federating searches is a great tool from an enterprise search tool. It comes from the machine trying to put the documents into context and groups that the machine thinks makes sense. Adding the human factor can add more value than what the machine can do. A person's annotations or tags can create more value than the machine.

One of the goals of using a social search is that it elevates discoveries into teaching moments. By sharing with the crowd what they found and they can put it into context and wrap more information around it. That way you can find it again and others can find it and reuse it.

You are more likely to go to someone in your network for help and expertise. That same behavior should carry over to tagging. You are more likely to rely on the tagging and notes from people you know and trust.

Social search can have enlightened self-interest by getting something back when you give something yourself.

Lynda recommends looking for early adopters by looking for groups that have serious information gathering needs. Start small.

This was big softball for Vivisimo to show how the new release of their product.

Next up was Rebecca Thompson from Vivisimo to showcase the release of their new Velocity 6.0 tool. She labeled as Enterprise Search 2.0.

First thing is the ability to vote on whether the item in the search result is useful. It displays the percentage of people that voted up and down. This in turn is fed back into the relevancy algorithm of the search engine. The next step is adding a rating. You can give up to five stars. It also displays the average rating and the number of votes. Administrators can get reports on the rating and use this highlight useful items and bury bad ones.

They also give the ability to tag an item in the search result. They allow both a free text and a force vocabulary. They also will auto-suggest tags. The big plus is that this adds concepts and words that do not actually appear in the text of the document. (I gave a search vendor the task of finding a purchase and sale agreement for a retail shopping center in Florida where we represented the purchaser. The words "Florida" and "retail shopping center generally would not appear in the document. Even if the word did appear it may only be once or twice in a 25+ page document. The key was tying the matter identification from the document in the document management system to the matter information in our matter tracking system.)

They allow annotations to the search items: free text with no limitation on the size. Like tagging, this allows context that does not appear in the document. It allows others to see what the document is about, without opening it.

They also allow you to saved search items into shared virtual folders, such as around topics.

They also allow searching for experts. They create an employee mashup from different sources. One item is pulling the person's tagging activity.

They also provide dashboards showing top taggers, top tags, etc.

Vivisimo thinks that web 2.0 technologies are setting higher standards for the tools within the enterprise. (I agree. I can set up a blog or a wiki for free on the Internet in 30 seconds. Why can't I do that inside the enterprise.)

I was blown away by the features of this product. I have been following enterprise search for a while as we have been shopping vendors. This product is a quantum leap above anything I have seen.


This seems to fit into the personal knowledge management theme in my post from Friday. You make it easy for the person to characterize their information, but allow this information to be shared across the enterprise.

Maps on SharePoint

I have been a fan of Google Maps and Google Earth for a while. In my real estate practice it is generally very useful to see the building and surrounding land to help identify problems.

One thing I have been thinking about, and working with off and on, is how to represent information from our firms systems and my personal systems on a map.

On the personal side, I set up a Google Map that shows a few of my real estate transactions. I set that up several months ago and it needs some updating. I found it powerful to show a breadth of practice. Personally, I think the map is a more powerful display of information than a list of real estate transactions.

In the firms we set up a few tests of displaying our transaction data on our SharePoint intranet. Many of the problems came from our underlying data source. (We were not good about capturing a property address).

Now, according to the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog, you can incorporate Virtual Earth Maps on SharePoint. I will have to revisit this after we upgrade our SharePoint platform in the next few months.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wikis and Legal Agreements

With my current fascination with wikis, I wondered if you could use one to draft a legal agreement. No, I thought. That's just crazy.

Well someone is crazier than me. has set up a library of legal agreements, using wikis to draft them. They have also layered on document management and signature tracking.

Like a good crash test dummy, I signed up and used one of their templates to draft a Non-Disclosure Agreement [Free Registration Required]. Feel free to edit my agreement. Interesting exercise, but I do not think I will be drafting agreements this way.

But individual clauses for agreements? That could done with a wiki.

I have a leasing clause library sitting in a folder in my document management system. I have been toying with the idea of putting each clause into a separate wiki page. You could add a description of uses for the clause, issues to watch out for and links to other related clauses.

I should warn you that Tractis is a Spanish company and most of the agreements are in Spanish. Despite several years of people trying to teach me Spanish, I can't do much with it except to point out that my pencil is yellow.

Thanks to Matt Homann for pointing this out.
the [non]billable hour: Web 2.0 Replaces Lawyers Again?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Reading List for Social Networks & Social Media: Implications for Law Firms

Below is the list of resources from the session on Social Networks & Social Media: Implications for Law Firms

Reading List on Leveraging Human Sociability to Facilitate Knowledge Sharing

One take-away from the New York Toronto Forum was this reading list:

Sociability and Story Telling
Stephen Denning
The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations

Laurence Prusak, et al
Storytelling in Organizations: Why Storytelling Is Transforming 21st Century Organizations and Management

Social Nature of Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Creation
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
The Social Life of Information

Cass Sunstein
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge

James Surowiecki
The Wisdom of Crowds

Communities of Practice
Hubert Saint-Onge and Debra Wallace
Leveraging Communities of Practice for Strategic Advantage

Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William Snyder
Cultivating Communities of Practice

Social Nature of Learning
Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger
Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)

Knowledge Management and Servant Leadership
Robert K. Greenleaf
Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness 25th Anniversary Edition

James A. Autry
The Servant Leader: How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve Bottom-Line Performance

Toronto New York KM Forum Wrap-Up

I put together some notes from the New York Toronto Law Firm Knowledge Management Forum:

Personal Knowledge Management
Making Knowledge Management Relevant in Client Development
Sorry I do not have notes on the Future Technology/Web 2.0 session. I do have the reading lists:

Here is also Ted Tjaden's notes: Personal Knowledge Management. It sounds like he has embraced my preaching on Web 2.0 and Facebook. From my poll of the room on blogging, it is unlikely that there will be any other blog posts from other attendees.

You may have noticed that the names of the presenters and their organizations do not appear in my posts. One tenet of the New York Large Law Firm Knowledge Management Group and its Toronto counterpart is to keep them limited to actual KM practitioners in law firms. The reason is to keep the groups candid and forth-coming. Something the members agree would be harder to do if clients, consultants or others were part of the group. In an open session we would need to present a rosy picture and only focus on the positives. We would hate for our frank discussions to cast any negative light on our law firms.

My notes are somewhat incomplete and murky in places to respect the tenets of forum.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Knowledge Management's Role in Developing Better Products

One mantra of knowledge management is to not reinvent the wheel. The focus of this panel was on KM's role in developing a better wheel.

Making Knowledge Management Relevant in Client Development

This panel consisted of a representative from a U.S., Canada and a U.K. firm to share the experience of how knowledge management can integrate with marketing, client development and client communications.

There was some discussion of extranets, a place to store information for clients to find.

The UK representative has two different models for the extranet: a deal room and a client research repository. The client research repository collects client alerts and legal publications.
They also develop extranets for clients to collect there forms, knowledge and materials. Effectively being KM consultants for their clients.

A poll of audience revealed that there are very few law firms that have a fee-based legal delivery service. There are some commercial providers looking to re-market the law firm's materials.

One item they pointed out is the Proskauer Rose LLP publication on the internet: Proskauer on International Litigation and Arbitration: Managing, Resolving, and Avoiding Cross-Border Business or Regulatory Disputes. This is a great treatise that the firm invested hundreds (if not thousands) of lawyer hours to create.

An ALM survey from last year indicated that 65% of client proposals have input from the knowledge management group. The group was skeptical of that number and poll of the room revealed a much smaller number.

What should the relationship be between knowledge management and marketing?

Personal Knowledge Management

I am at a knowledge management conference today. The personal knowledge management session is focusing on ways to rethink knowledge management.

Where are we now? Knowledge management has spent a lot of time fiddling with content, finding ways to serve it up and berating people to use our systems.

The current trajectory of knowledge management is to have grand plans with bigger budgets and expanding the staff. With all of this investment, the system needs to be fail-safe. If they fail (and they do most of the time) we engage people to figure out why it did not get used.

Maybe we should concentrate on personal systems and less on firm-wide systems?

Should knowledge management adopt the Ayn Rand philosophy: Forget the collective good and focus on the individual.

Train front line lawyers to implement personal KM and KM specialist to coach the lawyers and provide the necessary tools to implement personal KM. Coach attorneys to help develop personal knowledge base, give them the platforms and systems to implement their personal knowledge base, and mine those systems to leverage across the firm.

To create a personal knowledge base, we need a strategy for transforming the random bits of information and transform it into a usable system. It is important for others in the attorney's network and for the firm to be able to harvest the individual's personal knowledge management systems.

Things like shared folders in the document management system, blogs and wikis provide simple and easy to use tools to collect information that can be harvested by others.

Does training for these personal knowledge management systems require personal training? It is hard to get attorneys into training rooms. (It is hard to get anyone into a training room). One firm has one-on-one training sessions in the attorney's office. This allows them find out what the attorney does not know and expand on the tools that work best for their practice and their workflow. It was also useful to show that attorney how other attorneys use the various tools. The benefit of the one-on-one training is that is removes the possible stigma of being identified as not knowing how to use popular tools.

Should be also make this personal knowledge system to be portable? Departing attorneys are going to take stuff with them when they leave. It may be controversial, but it is going to happen anyway. The portability could be another incentive to contribute, knowing they can take it with them. (I think we need to make sure they only take a copy.)

Part of the role of knowledge management will be to get the attorneys to use platforms that can leveraged across the enterprise. Collecting shortcuts that can shared with others is a useful to gather information for the individual, but can be harvested by others.

Incorporating the narrative is an important part of KM training. People respond to stories (particularly failure stories) better than they do to statistics and databases.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blogger And My Blackberry

In poking around the settings on Blogger I noticed a new feature (or a feature that I have not noticed before). It allows you to set up an email address for sending blog posts. So I set up the email address, added the contact to Outlook and synced it to my Blackberry.

I am sitting on the tarmac at Logan Airporty tapping away on my Blackberry.

I have enough of an issues formatting and spellchecking my blogposts. Creating them on Blackberry is not going to help. But it is interesting to see the two communications media coming together to collect and distribute information.

Now if I can just figure out how to keep out the flotsam below from popping up in the blog post.

Sent from my Blackberry .

******************************************************************* IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. ******************************************************************* ******************************************************************* This message is intended only for the designated recipient(s). It may contain confidential or proprietary information and may be subject to the attorney-client privilege or other confidentiality protections. If you are not a designated recipient, you may not review, copy or distribute this message. If you receive this in error, please notify the sender by reply e-mail and delete this message. Thank you. *******************************************************************

Knowledge Management and Serendipity

One thing I noticed in our search for an enterprise search tool is the serendipity factor. People were finding interesting and informative things that they did not expect to find.

Our sample database of documents and intranet sites for testing enterprise search had been targeted at the guinea pigs in the proof of concept. We wanted to make sure that the information in the sample was some of their information. That way we could test the precision of the various search engines. The user would know about a particular document and craft a search to find it.

A good percentage of the searches would bring back a useful item that they did not know about. They would find out a colleague had drafted a memorandum on the same topic or find a brief on the subject from someone they did not know.

Two things brought up the subject of this post. One was a post on the Forrester Information and Knowledge Management blog: Serendipity: A Critical Innovation Success Factor by Erica Driver.

The second was my own experience using WestKm. I was giving my annual introductory knowledge management training session for the new associates last week, which includes a segment on WestKM. We use WestKm to search a subset of our Interwoven document management system using the WestLaw search engine, citation checking and other features. This subset of documents is targeted at those documents with legal analysis (as opposed to agreements), especially those with case citations or statutory citations.

Being a "seasoned" transactional lawyer, I rarely do primary research anymore. But one issue comes up every year. "What can I do about my neighbor's tree that is hanging over my yard? Can I trim the tree?" I wrote a brief memo on the issue several years ago. I use a search for this memo during my WestKM demonstration.

Serendipity struck this year when another item came up in the WestKM search results ahead of my memo. Someone else had gone and drafted a memo on the same topic for a client. (I hope that she found my memo and re-purposed it.) Unfortunately, the new memo was much better than mine. (It should be; a client paid for it.)

Another serendipitous moment was that the memorandum had the unfortunate title of "Memo to File." So, I was able to teach the new associates another lesson: Give your documents a meaningful name. "Memo to File" is not a useful name for you to find that document again. It certainly is not a useful name for someone else interested in that subject. Even though the other memo was better than mine, people would be more likely to read my memo because it is called "Tree Trimming in Massachusetts."

I find one of the great features of powerful search engines is this serendipity factor. It is always great to find interesting things that you do not expect to find. Run a Google search on yourself and see what comes up. If you have a blog, use the Google Webmaster tool or Technorati and see who is linking to your blog. Serendipity could be in your future.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Social Networks Update

Back in the end of July, I posted a story: Does anyone know ____?: CRM vs. LinkedIn vs. Facebook comparing the features and powers of three social network tools that I use. One aspect of the post was the number of people I knew in each system.

InterAction is the firm's Contact Relationship Management software. In the system I am identified as knowing 1362 people, up from 1300 on July 23. The system can identify who knows who so it is a social network tool. This includes people inside and outside the firm.

In LinkedIn, I now have 114 "connections" up from 62 in late July.

In Facebook, I now have 40 friends, a huge increase from the 8 I had in late July. Of those 40 almost half are people who work at my firm. Almost all of them have joined Facebook since late July.

Email is still the dominant form of business communication and has been for many years. It was no surprise that the contacts in InterAction (which is largely driven by email) continue to grow at a steady pace.

I am really surprised at the growing numbers in Facebook. Surprised is not the right word. I was surprised by the communication powers of Facebook. I think most people find that communications power to be a great tool to use. The big barrier is wading through the media coverage to try Facebook out for themselves and see what it can do for them.

I ran into one of my Facebook "friends" in the hallway. Although we had not run into each face-to-face for weeks, we both remarked how it felt like we had been talking to each other everyday.

That is the real power of social network tools: the ability to enhance personal communications.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Computers Are About Trying To Murder You In A Lake

I heard a short presentation on knowledge management on Thursday night:
"Everyone always wants new things. Everybody likes new inventions, new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections.

And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake."

Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wikis and Facebook

Web 2.0 technologies are starting to overlap, merge and mash together. Over the last few days I have heard of two wiki applications for Facebook.

Wetpaint released their Wetpaint Wiki Whiteboard application for Facebook. Wikimono released their Facebook wiki.

I do not think I have much use for a wiki application on my Facebook profile. But, I would love to see a wiki application in the Facebook Groups. So far, I am bit underwhelmed by the groups function in Facebook. It is great that you can send a message to the whole group and use the wall and discussion board. I am not sure why there is a wall and a discussion board. I would really like the ability to add applications to the group and have applications developed for groups. A group wiki is the first thing that came to mind.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Conference Live Blogging

The Boston KM Forum this week was the first conference I attended that I did not live blog since I started blogging. I was surprised at how alien I found the experience. I was writing down my notes instead of typing them. I kept wanting to look up the presenter's background information, links to the subjects and links to studies they mentioned.

I intended to live blog, but I chose a bad place to sit and had technical problems. It certainly reinforced by belief that conference blogging is a great way to capture a presentation and my thoughts on the presentation.

Dave Snowden was live blogging at the conference and was able exchange some posts, comments and connections during the conference. My notes felt very cold and stale when I started assembling them later in the day.

Dave Snowden point out some conference blogging tips from Bruno Giussani and Ethan Zuckerman that he found at TED: Lunch over IP: Tips for conference bloggers - for downloading.

I also came across Josh Hallett's Hyku post on How to Blog a Conference.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Reading List from the Boston KM Forum

I forgot to post the reading list from the symposium. Instead of duplicating efforts here, I am sending you over to Kelly Drahzal who posted the suggested reading on knowledge management on Kellypuffs.

Where Will Knowledge Management be in 5-10 years

Kathy Curley, Boston University, Panel Moderator, Eric Lesser of IBM Global Business Services, Dave Snowden , Mike Zack , Joe Horvath and Kate Ehrlich wrapped up the meeting by looking ahead.

They only thing they seemed to agree upon was that they disagreed about the future.

There was some commentary about the opening of systems, being more chaotic than controlled company networks. Dave thought that the concept of enterprise software would erode, while other panelists though that the enterprise systems would open (a little).

Another theme was what to do with the changing workforce dynamics. There is a demand to capture the knowledge of retiring baby-boomers. At the same time the younger workers are coming into the workforce expecting transparent information and the visibility of knowledge. Dave pointed out that baby-boomers will not fill out surveys and databases. They will tell stories and will continue to tell stories after they retire. Enterprises need to harness the power of the narrative to collect the retiring knowledge of baby-boomers.

They panel had some agreement on the increasingly common ability to form a network and form a community electronically. Mike was particularly forthright that he wrote his thesis on the importance of face-face contact for effective collaboration, but is not retreating from this position.

Eric put forth the idea of the enterprise creating a platform for its workers to succeed. It needs to give them the ability to collaborate, to provide flexibility to work when and where they want, to allow them to create a network of connections, and to improve their employ-ability. People no longer think that they are going to work at the same company forever.

Sense-Making and Knowledge Management

Dave Snowden, of Cognitive Edge, laid out the most thought-provoking session I have heard on knowledge management. (My head is still sore from trying to assimilate his presentation. ) He is posting his podcast of the session and the slides from his presentation.

Dave espoused his theory on naturalizing sense-making. We should focus on how we make sense of the world so we can act in it. Knowledge management should be about decision-making and innovation.

He takes the position that knowledge management lost the battle and is becoming a subset of IT. He is seeing a revival of knowledge management because of the Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 technologies. He thinks there will be much more success working on fragmented information rather than structured information. People like a mess. Put too much structure around information and people lose their place.

I have to agree with him. Whenever I hear someone talking about a KM system, I shudder. Knowledge management needs to be built into and latch onto a person's regular workflow. You can ask them to make some changes to what they do so that information is better captured. But you better offer them lots of concrete, easy to show benefits for changing their workflow.

Dave moved onto systems theory, talking about ordered systems, chaotic systems and complex systems. With an ordered system, the system constrains agent behavior so with a particular input, you can expect the output. With a chaotic system there is no agent constraints resulting in turbulent and unstable process. But, with the use of statistics and probabilities, it can give you a predicted outcome. In a complex system, the agent constrains the system and the system constrains the agent. These two-way constraints make it harder to handle than the chaotic system. It is also highly sensitive to starting conditions and cannot be broken into simpler subsystems.

He used planning a kid’s birthday party as a metaphor for various management theories and how they relate to these three different kinds of systems. First being uncontrolled management, which is just giving the kids a few bottles and let them run free until the house burns down. Second, he moved onto a structured management approach, starting with a PowerPoint presentation to the party-goers with a set of goals for each attendee to achieve and various incentives for them achieving the proscribed milestones of happiness. (Listen to the podcast; he’s much funnier than I am.) Lastly, we moved onto the complex system. You use a few strict ground rules to limit behavior, throw in a few activities and adjust activities to the behavior. This is easier to manage and how people actual act and react to their environment.

Dave moved onto a session about pattern recognition. The slides showed a sets of dots, the lines you can make with the dots and various patterns you can make from these various lines. As the number of dots increase the number of possible patterns increases by many magnitudes. The lesson was that hindsight can be 20/20, but is highly unreliable to predict future behavior. Seeing all the data points, with the outcome in front of you , it easy to see how the data showed the future behavior. But those data points could lead to a multitude of possible outcomes.

He also did an experiment with a group of people passing basketballs. Our assignment was to count how many times the people in the white shirts passed a basketball. The video had three people in white shirts and three people in black shirts moving around quickly passing several basketballs. Dave then asked the audience how many passes we saw from the white team. Then, to the surprise of most members of the audience, he asked who saw the gorilla. Replaying the video, someone in a black gorilla suit walks right through the group passing basketballs. In hindsight the gorilla was obvious, but the audience was focused on other data.

Humans are built for pattern recognition and pattern matching influence, not information processes. People do not remember the same thing twice, because we are never presented with exactly the same set of circumstances. People have fragmented memories, blending multiple patterns to reach decisions. People scan a small percentage of the information presented to them and match it to remembered patterns.

Failure leaves a stronger impression than success. People are more afraid of failure than they enjoy rewards of success. We need to be sure to capture the lessons from our failures as much as we capture the lessons from our successes.

Dave finds narratives to have more impact than databases or lengthy best-practices manuals. He finds that when people hear patterns this creates pattern recognition. Fragmenting information into narratives is better than the big bang approach of a full size manual.

Knowledge Management should embrace social computing. He finds the messiness of it along with the narrative and flow of knowledge as a more effective way of conveying knowledge to one big overarching database.