Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dynamic Books ...

A book is a static entity ... it is frozen in time the moment it is published, just like any other document. Which is why i believe that in an organization, as far as the KM program goes, collaboration has to play an increasingly important role than codification. Because no matter how exhaustive a document repository is, the codification of knowledge the repository represents will keep on changing. And this is where i look at blogs, wikis, and communities to keep in synch with this changing knowledge knowledge base, as well as to make sure that it keeps changing, because our knowledge will increase, and evolve only as this happens.

Jay Cross writes about the benefits of the evolving concept of the Un-Book. One thing a lot of people believe is that a wiki, for example, is Work in Progress, while a book represents the final word. This is something we as a civilization need to understand ... there is no such thing as a final word on human knowledge. This is because human knowledge has not yet reached the final frontier (whether it ever will is the question of another debate, given that we dont even know whether is such a thing or not).

Interestingly, if the book is slowly becoming obsolete (not to mention prohibitively expensive), then what is the form of interaction which could generate opinions and thoughts at a level which is at least similar to that of a book. Much as an un-book sounds exciting, it lacks a basic structure which a book can offer. Now, it could be argued that structure is not a nice thing. While that is a viewpoint, i believe that a certain amount of structure (at least a minimal level), is required to aid learning. Now, agreed that different people find different kinds of structures beneficial to their learning process, but structure there must be, to some extent or the other. For example, visit a page on wikipedia, and you would find some rudimentary structure in place.

What would be really neat is a spiral bound collection of dynamic things, like blogs and wikis, which could be presented as an ongoing book. The important part being ongoing, considering that learning is not going to stop is folks stop writing blogs. Blogroll comes to mind with this. Interesting ... it serves as a collection of blogs i could refer to. Thing about blogrolls is that they are one person's viewpoint on the best sources of information and opinions on a particular topic. Could get tricky if you are talking about marketing blogs.

What could be cool could be some kind of a blogroll directory. A collection of the favourite blogs of a number of people on a particular topic, something on the lines of or digg. What would make this more interesting if this could also present cross-referencing of blogs, so that there could emerge a rating mechanism, to give an idea of who are the people who prefer a particular set of "spiral bound" blogs. What could make this even more interesting ... Having a minimal structure. Somewhat like having a blogroll which has sections ... Introduction to Topic blogs, Basic Concepts blogs, Detailed Concepts blog, Implementation blogs, etc. etc. Somewhat like having a book with a Preface which is dynamic, and to which people can add to as they keep learning new things?

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