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Information Flow

Dina Mehta wrote today about implementing Weblog, Wiki, IM, and other collaboration technologies into an Intranet environment, to replace an “archaic” Knowledge Management system and improve inter-office communication. I’m embarking on similar activities with the company I work for, so I’m eagar to read about others experiences. In my work, I’ve made a couple of proposals to IT mgmt about using weblog and wiki technologies. They seem interested, so I’m now going to set up some test runs using open source technology. I’ve got my eye on Twiki as an Intranet-focused wiki and Movable Type as an extensible weblog system. I’ll be writing about my experiments with these two products in the future, because I’m as curious as everybody else how “normal people” will react to this technology in a corporate setting. Especially as I not only have to convince business people, but IT people too.

Dina also adds, about KM in general:

I’m not sure this fits into traditional definitions of Knowledge Management (i really dislike the term) – i wish someone would coin a really neat term for it.

I feel the same about the phrase “Knowledge Management”. To me, KM is full of fluffy words and phrases that have little practical value in the real world. It’s too easy for so-called “Knowledge Management Consultants” to swan into organisations and pontificate about leveraging ‘this’ and setting up processes for ‘that’. It’s all so top-down, all talk and no action. The thing I like about wikis and weblogs is that it’s bottom-up, there are no rules or processes or KM systems trying to pen workers in like sheep. KM is like a sheepdog and KM Consultants are the Shepherds. Except the ‘sheep’ are actually people, not sheep, so they resist herding.

With wikis and weblogs, people can just click a button and type (notice I said ‘can’ – it remains to be seen whether they actually do). People can produce information, subscribe to information they value, edit each others information. It’s like a flow of information and Knowledge gets created in the mix and mingle of it all.

Information Flow is the term I suggested to Dina to replace Knowledge Management. It’s not an original term, I’ve heard people like Dave Wineruse it. Information Flow is what wikis and weblogs enable. To “manage” knowledge suggests a top-down approach where we get to tell Knowledge what to do. Well guess what, knowledge can’t be ordered around. Information routes itself around of its own free will. What’s more, Knowledge is in the eye of the beholder – i.e. it’s a Subjective thing, not Objective. Am I mixing my metaphors? Sorry, it is late on a Friday…

Hey, maybe I can style myself as an “Information Flow Consultant” 🙂 I’ll get the business card made up on Monday morning!

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