Friday, July 11, 2008

Old vs New?

My friend Mark pointed me to a an interesting blog by Chuck Hollis ... about The End of Knowledge Management? ... interesting read this. About the end of Knowledge Management as we knew it. Or, KM 1.0 ... or was it KM 0.0? Gosh ... these decimals sure do get me confused, dont they?

Though i do agree with Chuck when he talks about the long winded discussions about taxonomy, and the role taxonomy has played in the scheme of things. The way i see it, this was the stage where the central aspect of KM was documents ... where the focus was only on documentation. And i am sure we have all been there done that ... building huge repositories of documents, and spending sleepless nights trying to figure out the perfect taxonomy (as if there ever was some such thing!).

The departure, to my mind, though, is in two different directions. If we are to look at KM as having two components ... Codification, and Collaboration ... then, today, the focus is shifting towards collaboration. Much as it should. Though, codification must still remain as part of the KM strategy of the organization. What the term means would probably evolve ... which is why i have used a more generic term.

One aspect of the codification strategy is the idea of taxonomy ... and this is something i have written about before ... Whether there is any such thing as too much taxonomy ... definitely there is. And, there is the question where most folks dont know the answer ... what is the point at which taxonomy tends towards towards too much taxonomy, and should rather be replaced by search?

The other aspect of course is the idea of collaboration. This is gaining momentum with the evolution of web 2.0 technologies. Now, collaboration has always been something which has been far more beneficial that simply going through documentation. Lets take an example ...

At college, whenever there was a topic which i couldnt understand (and there were plenty of them), rather than going through the book again (there was hardly any time ... what with preparing on the night before the exam!), i would simply head to a friend, and ask him to explain the topic to me.

In other words, collaboration has always held a position at the centre of sharing of thoughts in human society. What has happened over a period of time is that documentation has been artificially been given a place of prominence in the scheme of things, and the evolution of web 2.0 is basically, in a sense, a back to basics, albeit in an altogether different way, and an altogether different scale and scope. And, these basics are essentially centred around people, with the interactions and the entire process of knowledge sharing being the spokes which radiate from the people. Which is something we find in the popularity of social computing, and social networking tools.

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