Personal Knowledge Management

If organisations stopped spending so much time on processes and technology solutions and uncovered the latent potential in employees then real value could be harnessed through Personal Knowledge Management. The goal is to make knowledge workers better at capturing, using and sharing knowledge, and maximising their personal effectiveness in the social and relationship-building part of their jobs.

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I was recently asked to give a talk/presentation on the topic “Personal Knowledge Management”, a topic close to my heart and something that I’ve been practising for more years than I care to remember. It’s also something that I’m happy to evangelise about, and hence I was more than happy to spend a bit of time collating my thoughts and preparing a brief presentation for the audience.

But what do we mean by ‘Personal Knowledge Management’ – or  ‘PKM’?

For me, this is the missing element in the SECI Model of Knowledge Dimensions, which is rather a dry look at KM processes and misses the personal element altogether.

I should come clean here and admit that I don’t much like the term ‘Knowledge Management’ (KM), which is an instant turn-off for many people, particularly those that have had Knowledge Management ‘done to them’. They’ve perhaps been sucked into a corporate strategy to become a ‘learning organisation’ that was heavy on vision and messages, but light on “what does it mean for me?” Or maybe they’ve lived through the hype and legacy of the snake-oil salesmen that pedalled instant technology solutions that would solve all of their organisation’s information problems.

So, by putting ‘Personal’ in front of ‘KM’, am I propagating the confusion, or fear? Maybe I am, but we need a common lexicon to be able to communicate, and like it or not, KM still looms large as a topic, a discipline, a process and a profession. Hence, I’ll have to live with the legacy of misinformation rather than trying to invent a new label.

I’ve leaned towards the PKM term as a follower of many of the articles and blog posts by Harold Jarche, who has influenced some of my thinking (but not all). The “Seek-Sense-Share” paradigm as promoted by Jarche is a simple but effective process that encourages the self-learn facet at the heart of PKM. Jarche defines PKM as:

A set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world & work more effectively. (Harold Jarche)

This is pretty much consistent with the Wikepedia definition:

Personal knowledge management (PKM) is a collection of processes that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities.

But what is the importance and relevance of PKM?

There are at least two factors that have hastened the need for knowledge workers to practice Knowledge Management at the personal level (Tsui 2002):

  • Firstly, the knowledge economy has given birth to a new kind of worker. These workers are likely to be self-employed, their decisions are almost all knowledge-based, their work tasks are far less structured and they fiercely defend their independence.
  • Secondly, for Enterprise Knowledge Management initiatives to be successful, it is important that individual knowledge workers are competent at managing knowledge at the personal level.

PKM extends further than giving employees access to Intranets, Enterpise Social Software Systems or Knowledge/Information Standards. If organisations stopped spending so much time on processes and technology solutions and uncovered the latent potential in employees then real value could be harnessed through Personal Knowledge Management. The goal is to make knowledge workers better at capturing, using and sharing knowledge, and maximising their personal effectiveness in the social and relationship-building part of their jobs.

PKM is also about taking responsibility for your own personal and professional development. This means being an accomplished networker, comfortable with technology and – perhaps most important of all – curious. Curiosity encourages serendipitous connections and a desire to understand the complex world we live in. By equipping ourselves with the skills to understand the environment we live and work in , we can make better decisions, grow our reputation and ensure we remain relevant in the career path we have chosen for ourselves.

I hope you find the slides useful.

(NB. I curate a paper.li magazine on subject of PKM, and run occasional training courses for TFPL. The next course is scheduled for 11th September 2013. Sign-up for one or both if you’d like to understand more about PKM).

Presentation Slides:

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Social Media Explained (with the aid of a donut!)

Whenever I’ve been asked to explain “social media”, I’ve found that one sure way of getting the message across is to use this slide. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there’s no harm in injecting a bit of humour into any presentation.

I do not take any credit for the idea, and would normally accredit the original source, but there are so many different variations on this theme around the Web that I’ve not been able to discover how and where it started.  Indeed, I’ve also made some of my own changes to bring it up to date. So, apologies in advance if I am upsetting any ownership sensibilities!

Social Media Explained - in a dounut

  • Twitter: I’m eating a #donut
  • Facebook: I like donuts
  • Foursquare: This is where I eat donuts
  • Instragram: This is a vintage photo of my donut
  • Pinterest: Here’s a recipe for making donuts
  • LastFM: Now listening to “Donuts”
  • Google+: I’ve joined a circle of donut-eating enthusiasts
  • Reddit: There’s a conspircy around donut eating.
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Where Next For Social Media

Technology is no longer something to be feared or avoided – it’s part and parcel of how we live our lives in the 21st century, and it provides us with unprecedented opportunities to understand the world in which we live, and to tap into the collective wisdom of our fellow human beings. It’s good to be alive!

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A session I recently presented for the London Information and Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) Conference.

A look at some of the current and emerging trends around social media, social networks and collaborative technology. We’ve transitioned from the industrial paradigms of the 20th century to a new age full of opportunities for shared knowledge and learning. But it’s an increasingly complex world and we need to be able to adapt and change if we are to make the most of our opportunities. Technology is no longer something to be feared or avoided – it’s part and parcel of how we live our lives in the 21st century, and it provides us with unprecedented opportunities to understand the world in which we live, and to tap into the collective wisdom of our fellow human beings. It’s good to be alive!

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Creating the conditions for Social Business (update)

 This is an update to an earlier post, which includes the slideset used at the Social Business event of 25th April 2012.

Creating the right environment for Social Business

Creating the conditions for a successful Social Business requires a strategic approach that focuses on establishing clear business objectives and strategies, understanding cultural considerations, developing frameworks and managing processes that adapt to the changing needs of the organisation, defining systems of governance, and enabling emerging collaborative tools that integrate with existing workflows.

Despite the benefits of taking an overall strategic approach to collaboration efforts that mix both structured and unstructured methods and techniques, many organisations are using emergent collaboration tools in an ad-hoc and tactical capacity that disconnects users from the other parts of the organisations and perpetuates siloed functions, groups, and people.

Clearly, Social Business is in an early market with much work to be done. However, steps can be taken to adapt to this newer way of working. In the area of adoption, organisations need senior leaders to champion and model the technology; to provide education on the benefits that can materialise from emergent collaboration – for the organisation and for themselves; to keep the lines of communication open, online and offline, horizontally and vertically, creating a more ‘networked’ approach to the internal company; and last but not least, to integrate collaboration tools into the day-to-day activities and workflows of its employees.

Organisations in the vanguard of emergent collaboration must continue to monitor, evaluate, and adapt to changing conditions. The benefits of emergent collaboration can be fully realised by taking a thoughtful look at all parts of the organisation, the business drivers across each department and the organisation as a whole, and the user types involved, all the while communicating and collaborating with all users in an open and trusted environment.

This will demand leadership’s decision-making and accountability as well as significant effort and responsibility on the part of all, however, the end result is a shared and aligned understanding and far more engaged workforce.

Slides used at the “Creating the Conditions for Social Business” event, held at the CBI Conference Centre, London.  

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Future Trends in Social Media & Social Networks

The ubiquitous Social Web. At look at the key trends and statistics for social media tools and networks and what it means for us mortals.

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I recently co-presented a session for NetIKX on “future trends in social media & social networks” with Geoffrey Mccaleb, with a solo follow-up Webinar for the Knowledge and Innovation Network (KIN). The content for this presentation was gleaned and curated from numerous sources, including books, white papers, vendor websites, industry reports and numerous blogs. In other words, not an insignificant research project in its own right.  I only mention this to illustrate one point – whether or not you agree with the content of the presentation, the data and trends described have – where possible – been validated against at least three different sources, and have not been artificially manipulated or otherwise obscured by personal opinion. Facts (if they are facts) on numbers of users for each social network are based on data made public by the vendors themselves, and oft-repeated by the industry press. It’s difficult to challenge this data where there is no independent reference source.

The Slides

The slides are available on Slideshare and embedded at the end of this blog. The following points provide some additional context to each slide.

  1.  Cover slide – The Future
  2. Wordle picture of the overall content.
  3. Let’s start with some statistics
  4. Big numbers with a common trend – they’re all getting bigger! Two thirds of the world’s population visits a social network at least once a month.  Facebook has 800 million users and is projected to reach 1 billion users by the end of 2012.  With the rollout of its Timeline feature, and the development of apps that integrate with it, Facebook’s strategic focus is now to encourage users to spend more time on the site, sharing more information with their social contacts. Data mainly sourced from  http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/01/17/internet-2011-in-numbers/
  5. At present, Google+ reaches 90 million global visitors, accounting for 5 percent of the global social networking audience. While this early adoption bodes well for Google+, whether or not the network can sustain this growth and a strong level of engagement among users will be better indicators of its success in the future. Google+ might emerge as a social networking leader in its own right in the years to come, but exactly how big it will be remains to be seen. Twitter reports 225 million accounts (note that an “account” might not be a physical person; bots make up some of this number). LinkedIn reports 132 million users (mainly B2B). Data sourced from Comscore , CNN and phill.co . There’s some interesting commentary about the accuracy of Google’s data at Venturebeat.
  6. With more than 800 million users, Facebook is running into a nice problem to have: There are only so many more people to add. While the site will continue to grow in emerging markets that are only now getting online, Mark Zuckerberg has shifted the conversation to sharing and engagement, arguing that sharing on Facebook grows exponentially and that users will double the amount they share each year. That sharing is driving users to spend more time on site — the average Facebook user now spends nearly 7.5 hours on the site each month, up from 4.5  hours just two years ago. With the arrival of Timeline, increased focus on media and entertainment consumption, and continued growth in social games, engagement will surge even further in 2012. Also see: “Facebook adds Pinterest + 59 new apps
  7. New models for engagement. Based on an original ideas by Dion HinchcliffeAmbient communication – Today, everyone can talk to anyone, just about anywhere for nearly (thought not at) at zero cost. Global information flows – The largest, fastest growing, and most freely flowing source of information available is the Internet. This trend will only continue into the future as all information platforms move online. Social computing – Social models for communication, collaboration, and business are proving to be more effective and fundamentally better than non-social ones. Market discontinuity – There is both space and demand for major changes in the way we do things in business today.
  8. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online is now spent on social networking sites – a stark contrast from when the category accounted for only 6 percent of time spent online in March 2007. Time spent on social networking sites gained ground during this time by taking share predominantly from web-based email and instant messengers, reflecting its emergence as another primary communication channel for users. Ornoklassniki is a Russian Social Networking website. Sina Weibo is a Chinese site. Data sourced from Comscore.
  9. While sites like Digg and Reddit have been around for years, a new crop of sites like Polyvore, Svpply and, most notably, Pinterest are allowing people to organize their favourite discoveries from around the web into themed collections that friends and contacts can follow. Pinterest has seen phenomenal growth over past 12 months, proving that social media continues to evolve, bringing new opportunities for multimedia social platforms. It appears that sites that offer new and personalised user experiences can have a major influence on social sharing and internet traffic. There’s a very useful introduction to Pinterest in this Slideshare presentation from the US Army (yes, surprising who’s using this stuff!).
  10. Content curation is the organising, filtering and “making sense of” information on the web and sharing the very best with your network. Examples include paper.li, scoop.it, Flipboard and Storify. If you want to get further information about content curation, read this article by Robin Good – What Makes A Great Curator Great
  11. Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting being reinvented through the latest technologies and peer-to-peer marketplaces in ways and on a scale never possible before. Examples given included Barclays Bikes, Zipcar, Airbnb and TaskRabbit – but there are many hundreds of other P2P services out there, and growing exponentially. Incidentally, the most requested task on TaskRabbit is for assembling IKEA furniture, so if you’re an expert on that, go earn yourslef some money! Specifically, much of the material originates from the book “What’s Mine Is Yours” by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. Reputational Capital (i.e. who can we trust) will be increasingly important the more that we use the internet for transactional services.
  12. Big Data – ok, not specific to social media or social networks, but big enough to impact both.
  13. Big data are datasets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analytics ,and visualising. This trend continues because of the benefits of working with larger and larger datasets allowing analysts to spot business trends, prevent diseases and combat crime. Though a moving target, current limits are on the order of terabytes, exabytes and zettabytes of data.Scientists regularly encounter this problem in meteorology, genomics, connectomics, complex physics simulations,  biological research, Internet search, finance and business informatics. Data sets also grow in size because they are increasingly being gathered by ubiquitous information-sensing mobile devices, “software logs, cameras, microphones, RFID readers, wireless sensor networks and so on. One current feature of big data is the difficulty working with it using relational databases and desktop statistics/visualization packages, requiring instead “massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers.”The size of “Big data” varies depending on the capabilities of the organisation managing the set. “For some organizations, facing hundreds of gigabytes of data for the first time may trigger a need to reconsider data management options. For others, it may take tens or hundreds of terabytes before data size becomes a significant consideration.” NB. Bus stop photo:  Bus users in Blackburn can now receive up-to-the minute information on the whereabouts of their buses following the launch of a pilot project by Blackburn with Darwen Council and bus operator Transdev Lancashire United.
  14. The increasing use of visualisation techniques,  infographics and smart analytics that enable complex data to be presented in new and interesting ways.
  15. Some people – wrongly – see gamification simply as the process of adding points, badges or rewards to the learning process and instantly creating engagement, interactivity and motivation for learning. When done correctly, gamification provides an experience that is inherently engaging and, most importantly, promotes learning. The elements of games that make for effective gamification are those of storytelling, which provides a context, challenge, immediate feedback, sense of curiosity, problem-solving, a sense of accomplishment, autonomy and mastery. Examples here include Big Door, Gamify-it, Scvngr and Badgeville.
  16. It would be remiss to say nothing about the trend towards mobile platforms. People are now free from the shackles of the office PC.
  17. We’re now at least 3 years into the next major technology trend – mobile.
  18. Morgan Stanley made the prediction in 2010 that mobile platforms would outstrip sales of traditional desktop systems within 5 years. The enormous success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad may even have accelerated this timescale.
  19. More people own mobile phones than toothbrushes!  There will be 7 billion mobile phones by 2012 – more than the global population. More than 4 billion people around the world now use cell phones, and for 500 million the web is a fully mobile experience.
  20. Apps – not just for gamers any more. Apps offer an entirely new business model. Users are now far more comfortable using apps for solving business problems and organisations are developing apps that are providing a richer experience for users of their on-line services. Also an opportunity to lower transactional costs (e.g. when compared to telephone or F2F support). Users have no particular loyalty to apps, and will discard the ones that no longer serve a useful purpose and download or update the the ones that do.
  21. The traditional vendor software development priorities of designing for the PC with (maybe) the mobile platform in mind are being reversed; any new product or application must work (and be optimised for) mobile platforms, with (maybe) the PC in mind.
  22. The trends reinforce the view that apps are becoming ubiquitous in how we work and play. Users are comfortable with the software distribution and update models offered by app stores.
  23. Location-based services (LBS). Product and service providers are realising the value and potential to make information services highly personalised. One of the best ways to personalise information services is to enable them to be location based. An example would be someone using their smart phone or tablet to search for a restaurant. The LBS application would interact with other location technology components to determine the user’s location and provide a list of restaurants within a certain proximity to the mobile user. Services such as Foursquare go one step further and link location with your social network, so that you can see if you have any friends within your vicinity. Other examples include using a GPS-equipped smartphone to reveal your location and in return offered special promotions from nearby businesses, or the Easy:park – smartphone app, which enables payment via smartphone and a countdown timer showing how long is left. A future release will find an available parking slot based on your GPS location – a must for the city motorist!
  24. Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. Examples shown here include New York Nearest Places,  Golfranger GPS Rangefinder, Cyclopedia, Panaramascope, Theodolite, Starchart.

Summary

The remaining slides summarise the overall trends:

•Social Media is ubiquitous. More businesses are adding social media links and information to their websites; consumers now look for these links. Visiting a company’s Facebook page or Twitter profile has become as important as reading reviews on the business.
•Facebook will have 1 billion users by end 2012 and will continue to dominate the social network space. More apps and integration with external services will encourage shift from conversations to sharing and engagement = users spend more time on site.
•Rapid growth of companies/services offering new and interesting ways for people to share information (e.g. Tumblr, Pinterest)
•Help with content overload. More apps and services providing knowledge and information curation, aggregation and filtering.
•Apps will inherit the earth! Users more familiar (and trusting) of software distribution channels (app stores). Users happy to discard old/legacy apps and download new ones that meet changing needs and requirements.
•Gami-ificaton techniques will find their way into more social networks and corporate websites in order to engage and retain users/customers.
•Augmented reality apps will offer an awesome user experience. Location-based services will thrive and provide new, more compelling, more efficient services with lower B2C transaction costs. Privacy issues will deter some users.
•More opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs. Peer to peer on the rise; more lending, sharing, bartering and recycling opportunities offered via ‘Collaborative Consumption”.
•We’re going to continue to generate data faster than it can be consumed or understood. Most of it will not be held inside the enterprise. Information visualisation techniques and intelligent analytics will aid user’s interpretation and understanding. Opportunities and challenges for knowledge & information professionals.
•Mobile platforms will soon overtake the desktop PC as the preferred interface to the Internet and www. Software being designed for mobile, with consideration for PC, not the other way around.
The final take-away from this session were the points made by Geof Mccaleb as a challenge for everyone to take back to their respective organisations:
  • Users want their data everywhere – what is your cloud strategy?
  • Users want simple tools and products – what is your app strategy?
  • Users want to see what is relevant to them – what is your graph strategy
  • Users want the same experience regardless of which device they are using – what is your mobile strategy?
  • Users want social experiences – what is your social web strategy?

Bookmarks associated with the presentation can be seen at: http://groups.diigo.com/group/ki-network/content/tag/webinar06jan12

Other blog posts from the session:

I hope this information is of some use – whether you’re dipping your toes into or fully immersed in the Social Web!

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The Business Of Collaboration

Some Background

The last few years can be described as the age of social business and collaboration. The demands and expectations of today’s knowledge workers have been shaped by the plethora of social networks and social media tools. Communicating and sharing information has never been easier.  Staying connected with news and status updates from friends, family, or at work is real-time and no longer constrained to an office PC.  This has coincided with the business realisation that a greater degree of interaction with customers, whether consumers or businesses, makes for a higher degree of customer retention.

Ironically, in many cases, workplace policy and technology constraints have meant that staff resorts to using the technology they have brought with them in their pockets or handbags in order to remain connected with their networks.  The ubiquity of mobile devices and ease of use of many web services means that almost anyone can originate or contribute to digital content, and information is increasingly consumed on the move. Recent analysis from Nielson shows that we spend 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites per month, or 22 per cent of all time is spent on-line. And the expectation now is that the tools that people use at work should be as easy and fun to use as the ones they use in their personal life.

But is this tsunami of data and information making us all better informed? How do we overcome information overload and ensure the relevance and utility of the information we consume? Can we provide environments that tap into the collective intelligence of groups or knowledge domains that match our specific needs?

And so the scene was set for the “Business of Collaboration” event hosted by PFI Knowledge Solutions (PFIKS) on 8th November 2011. PFIKS are one of the leading vendors of  “Enterprise Social Software” systems with their open sources, open standards Intelligus platform.

What is Enterprise Social Software?

Enterprise Social Software (ESS) is the next generation of platforms that are built to manage high volumes of collaborative engagement and conversations among distributed teams, project groups or communities of practice. They build on the conceptual ideas of popular social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, but with a host of enterprise-ready features to make them secure, private, collaborative and business integration-friendly.

As many organisations have discovered, implementing a technology solution by itself rarely results in more effective collaboration and knowledge sharing.  Sustainable implementation of ESS requires:

1. Understanding of how and why successful knowledge-sharing communities and networks perform.

2. A system that implicitly acknowledges the constraints (time, process) and motivations (reciprocity, reward) that individuals experience within such networks.

3. A blended approach where technology seamlessly supports the behavioural characteristics that will encourage users to self-organize, collaborate and co-create.

But what about the investment in ICT systems that organisations have made over the past decade?

The good news is that it’s not a matter of ripping out legacy systems, but extending what you have, adding new capabilities and integrating new applications and services.

Delegates at the event included representatives from private and public sectors, large organisations and SME’s, all with a common purpose: to get a better understanding of this “social business ecosystem” and how the blend of technology, people and processes can be effectively combined to support more fluid knowledge flows, drive collaboration initiatives and open up opportunities for innovation.

One of the delegates, David Wilcox, Social Reporter working with the Big Lottery Fund posted this excellent blog about the event.

All of the slide presentations from the event are available from the Intelligus website, including my own. However, I wanted to elaborate on some of the points I made in my  presentation. Hopefully you can follow these points with reference to the embedded slide presentation below, or from Slideshare.

The Presentation

Slides 1-4

What is the question that connects the images?

Collaboration pre-supposes that we have someone to collaborate with – in this example the person on the other side of the seesaw. The seesaw will only work with the collaboration of the people involved, in this instance, the child at each end of the seesaw.

Knowledge sharing makes no assumptions about collaboration; it’s possible to share knowledge with people we don’t know, e.g. by posting something to an on-line forum, or writing a blog about something we have seen or read or experienced. We may not know who is going to read our missive, or what value they may place on it. The posting might lead to some form of collaboration with the readers/consumers, but that is not necessarily the primary purpose for knowledge sharing.

Most of us are happy to collaborate and share ideas with the people we know (i.e. the definition of “collaboration”).

Slides 5-7

But what about the huge untapped resources and expertise that we don’t know about? We may get to hear about people in this “unknown world” via recommendations or word of mouth, but how do we connect and engage with them? How can we know what we don’t know? How do we find the answers to our questions in this “unknown world”?

If nothing else, this is where the power of social networks comes to the fore. We have the tools and technology to be able to “crowd-source” our questions. Social media tools such as Twitter or Quora make it easy to post queries to a largely anonymous network of people in the hope that someone will have the answer or the appropriate knowledge and experience we are seeking. By engaging and connecting with the people that respond we can grow our personal network, often referred to as our “Social Graph”.

Better still if the system or network we have joined can suggest contacts for us, based on what it knows about us, either explicitly (our digital identity and personal profile), or implicitly (our digital footprint, i.e. our ‘likes’, the people we have connected with and the on-line places we have visited).

Slides 8 – 10 

Social networks have proliferated over the past 4 or 5 years. Some have been more successful than others. Remember that even a blog can be a form of social network, and we now have over 200 billion of these (yes, more than the population of the planet!)

New users can be intimidated by large/mature social networks which have lots of users and content, and where engagement and conversations protocols have been established.

Slides 12-13

But are we beginning to see the onset of “social network fatigue”? Each new social network adds to the internet background noise. Search engines have never really delivered on the promise of relevant information, and many of us resort to serendipitous discovery of key information and conversations – it’s a bit ad hoc, where knowledge discovery is more by accident than design.

Slide 14

So, the signal to noise ratio is pretty poor at the moment and the ever-increasing volume of information hitting the Internet is likely to make it even worse.

Slides 15-16

It’s a strange paradox that now we have the capability of easily creating new websites and blogs without the need for any programing skills, what we really want now is one place to view and interact with all of this information. A recent (September 2011) audit of LinkedIn illustrates the problem:

  • 26 Alumni groups
  • 32 Corporate groups
  • 20 Conference groups
  • 132 Networking groups
  • 16 Nonprofit groups
  • 196 Professional groups

A total of 422 groups. How do you know which group(s) to join to be sure of getting the best answer to your questions? Maybe ‘all of them’ is the answer!

(Information sourced from blogs by Nick Milton and Ian Wooler)

Slide 18

If we want relevant information to come to us, we have to

  1. tell the system something about ourselves (our digital identity and profile),
  2. enable access to the sources of information that might be useful and
  3. spend some time identifying and validating the sources we like and trust. We can’t leave everything to technology – what you get out is proportional to what you put in!

This is clearly where the likes of Facebook (groups, Timeline) and Google+ (Circles, Sparks) are heading, but neither has yet achieved a ‘simple’ way of doing it.

Slides 19-21

Most of us will be more concerned with what the information is and whether we can trust it rather than where it is. So, do we have to worry about the “where” if we can develop some form of interoperability between systems and networks? RSS/Atom feeds and tagging are only part of the answer. We need a system that can extract meaning from the data (e.g. entity extraction) that will enable ontologies to be created and terms to be categorised for faceted search and discovery.

Slides 22-24

Entity abstraction, aggregation and categorisation.  If our profile is up to date, the Enterprise Social Software system should be able to locate, aggregate and categorise the information that we would find relevant and useful by matching terms against our profile data (who we are, where we work, what we’re interested in, etc.). Precision can be further improved by monitoring our ‘digital footprint’, i.e. the knowledge/information assets that we have ‘liked’, recommended or downloaded.  If we layer on top of this the aggregated behaviour patterns of all the users, we can leverage the opportunities provided by “collective intelligence” to identify “good’ content.

Products/vendors such as Amazon do this all of the time, using explicit data (the user bought an item) and implicit (users who bought this items also looked at these items). Tracking of a user’s progress through a website is not rocket science and is a fundamental part of any web analytics software. Inject a bit of entity extraction and you start to establish the foundations of a system that can begin to ‘intelligently’ connect information with people and people with people.

Slides 25-26

‘Liking’, ‘+1’ or ‘tweeting’ not only enables sharing of information, it can be fed into ‘trending engines’ that will aggregate and categorise the crowd-sourced data to show hot topics and trends. Again, the technology is well established, but little use is made of it in many Enterprise 2.0 systems. How nice it would be if, for example, your job entailed commissioning adult social care services and you could see the trending conversations on adult social care on your Enterprise 2.0 dashboard. This feature is built into the Intelligus platform using a combination of the open source application Carrot2 and the proprietary PFIKS matching engine.

Slide 27

All of the prior discussion refers to an environment (social media, social networks) that are already in place, and for technologies, systems and applications that are currently being delivered in Intelligus and some of the other leading Enterprise Social Software systems. But what of the future? Where is all of this taking us?

Slides 29-32

I will conclude with a few words about the growing importance of ‘Apps’. With apologies to those who don’t know who Peter Kaye is and his oft-repeated reference to Garlic Bread being the future! Maybe do a quick search on YouTube and all will be revealed!

Slide 33

As usual, Dilbert is pretty much attuned to what is happening in the business world. I would argue that most organisations haven’t yet grasped the full impact of the App market, and may view this as being the exclusive domain of the on-line gamers. In fact, (IMHO) it is shaping up to be one of the most disruptive technologies to appear since the start of the social media wave.

Slide 34

The trends reinforce the view that apps are becoming ubiquitous in how we work and play. Note that all of these apps are developed for mobile devices.

Slides 35-40

As I have noted on the slide, the key attributes of an Enterprise App Store are:

  • Empowers the user for self-service
  • Easy to use conduit of software, services and data
  • Model widely understood by developers and consumers of software
  • Recognition that one size doesn’t fit all (e.g. the lobotomised corporate PC)
  • Life-cycles for apps potentially short: discarded when no longer useful/relevant
  • Enterprise App Stores will provide a trusted source of business-ready apps that can be delivered to a rapidly changing work environment.
  • The end device is less important than the application. The mantra is now “develop for mobile, but consider the PC”, and not the other way around.
Slides 41-46

Finally, and in summary, the key ‘take-aways’ from this presentation:

  1. More people suffering “Social Network Fatigue” – desire for one place to do business,
  2. Enterprise Social Software (ESS) solutions must integrate with legacy systems and business processes.
  3. ESS must add value – more fluid knowledge flows, decision support etc.
  4. Mashups and Enterprise App Stores will become increasingly important for business agility
  5. Develop for mobile, think PC, not other way around!

Of course these are just my opinions. I’m happy to receive critical comment and corrections to any incorrect assumptions or poorly constructed arguments I may have made!

 

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Information Management: Evolution or Revolution?

What is the future for the Information Professional? ‘Big Data’, open data, linked data, data visualisation, social technology.  Data and information is coming at us from all directions and in a variety of formats. Are we managing all of this, or is it managing us? This presentation, recently given to the Information Management Directorate of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office is a small peak at a huge topic and is aimed at providing a broad perspective of the (information) changes happening around us, and the challenges (opportunities) they present.


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Knowledge Hub at Local by Social Online Conference

I will be running a session on the ‘Knowledge Hub‘ at the the Local by Social Online Conference this Wednesday 3rd November, 3pm to 4.30pm (GMT). See more details below about the Online Conference. A brief synopsis of the Knowledge Hub:

Knowledge Hub will support service improvement, efficiencies and innovation across local government. It is a Web 2  social media development and offers opportunities to foster greater collaboration across the sector and wider use of digitally based information such as open and linked data. Knowledge Hub builds on the successful Communities of Practice (CoP) space with over 75,000 registered users and is considered the most advanced online practitioner group in the public sector. Access to the new environment will allow councillors, officers and practitioners across the public sector to take advantage of new media tools and techniques for knowledge sharing and improvement.

More than just an IT solution, the KHub is a far-sighted social media resource that could lead to a major cultural change in the public sector.

The Local by Social online conference is just part of a wider strategy to support local government and its partners in using social media to improve services and knowledge sharing across the sector. The following abstract from Ingrid Koehler explains:

The Local by Social online conference is showcasing a range of digital innovators in local public services. Social media: Citizen and council strand has a range of brilliant speakers covering the breadth of how social media is being used to innovate and improve local public services and engage citizens more broadly and deeply.

And this is only one strand of the conference! The other cover the use of social media for better knowledge sharing and practice development within the sector and the use of open data for transparency and improvement.

How does this work? Speakers will provide material in advance and will then be available to answer questions and engage in discussion. But really they’re only there to prompt discussion. This conference is about you! Your experiences, your challenges and your solutions to share with colleagues across the country and around the world. Or you can just listen and learn. Sign up to the conference and you’ ll be alerted to speakers who interest you and round-ups of key content, so you never miss a thing.

The Slidecast presentation below has been posted to the Online Conference website. If this is of interest to you, then hope to ‘see’ you at the online conference on Wednesday 3rd November.

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The 21st Century Knowledge & Information Professional

The volume of information continues to grow at an exponential rate; new tools, products and web services appear almost daily. Despite the recession, nothing seems to stem the tide of innovation. If anything, the economic climate has enabled companies to be even more radical in the way they create and use information. These are challenging times for the knowledge and information professional. We all need to be able to work smarter, acquiring and developing the skills to become more effective knowledge and information workers.

I appreciate that everyone may have their own systems and methods for finding, categorising and using information; they will probably have their own networks for sharing knowledge and for personal development.  However, for anyone who can’t quite make sense of this increasingly connected digital world, or is bewildered by the volume of data and information that comes their way every day, or maybe feels intimidated by the social web, here are a few pointers to put you in control of the information monster and develop your professional skills.

The Slideshare presentation illustrates 5 steps (processes) described below – that will help you to:

  • develop the filters and lenses to overcome ‘information overload’
  • manage knowledge and information in a more systematic way
  • use ‘Web 2.0’ and ‘Social Media’ tools to support personalized learning and self development
  • embrace the world of collaborative knowledge sharing

Step 1 Tune into the interesting stuff

We all have our own definition as to what is interesting, but the key point here is to choose what YOU want to read and listen to and not try to absorb everything on the web. One way of doing this is to subscribe to the RSS/Atom feed from websites and blogs that you visit and which you’ve decided are interesting. Using a feed aggregator (I’ve shown Google Reader) you can categorise the feeds according to various criteria, e.g. type of content, author, source etc. You can also bundle feeds together and re-publish to your own blog or website if you choose (we’ll leave that one for now in the interests of keeping this post fairly simple). The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to treat this as an email in-box. It’s not a task-driven process, so you can read and review at your leisure (and you’ll note there are many feeds/topics I haven’t got around to reading!)

Another option is to set up alerts to trigger an email or update a feed if a particular search term is found. I’ve shown Google Alerts. This enables you to use Google’s mega-index of web pages to discover topics/content that could be of interest. If a match is found on your search term, you will be notified by email (or through a feed, see above) with a link to the relevant web page and a few words extracted from the webpage showing the context. You can decide the frequency you receive these email notifications, e.g. immediately, daily or weekly, and you can define the scope of the search, e.g. everything or news, blogs, videos, discussions.

Step 2 Sharing, Reciprocation and Trust

I’ve long believed that social bookmarking is the foundation to effective knowledge and information management. Bookmarking in itself is a useful way of filing away those useful webpage links that you have found for later use or reference even if not shared (the “social” bit of social bookmarking). It works in much the same way as “Favourites” on the Internet Explorer toolbar, but I’ve shown one of the many bookmarking services that operate in the Cloud or in other words, accessible via a browser and not tied to a particular PC or device. That way you can access bookmarks you saved on your home PC from your works PC, and vice versa. I’ve shown the Delicious bookmarking service, but there are many others, e.g. Diigo, Stumbleupon, Digg etc.

The social element is where you can share bookmarks with friends and colleagues who may have the same interests as yourself. They may spot something you didn’t, which you can add to your own bookmarks. I’ve shown my Network page, displaying the bookmarks my networks of contacts have saved. My network is shown at the top right of the page.

Sharing useful information with colleagues, friends and peers has never been easier. Most websites will have embedded links or a widget which connects to other web services and networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. Quite often all that is needed is one click and the link is shared with other networks that you belong to. Has it ever been easier to share content?

Reciprocation is the process whereby people who you share content with are likely to return the favour and share content they have created or discovered with you. This is really what the social web is all about,  sharing what we know with others.

And so we come to trust – who can you trust? I can’ t remember the source, but someone once said “trust arrives by foot and leaves by horseback”, meaning of course that it takes time to build trust but it is easily lost. We can gain confidence in numbers, e.g. if the vast majority of feedback on – say, Amazon –  is favourable for an item we wish to purchase, then we will tend to trust that aggregated opinion. If only one person gives feedback – good or bad – and we don’t know that person, then we can’t really trust that opinion. However, if we get to know that person and recognise that what they have to say is usually sensible or correct, then we will trust their opinion, and furthermore, will promote that opinion to our followers and friends. So briefly, trust has to be earned.

Step 3 Get Organised

This is a further refinement to the feed aggregation that I mentioned at Step 1. Creating a personal dashboard of information and content will enable you to assemble in one place all of the potentially useful sources you have discovered. I’ve shown iGoogle as an example, but there are other similar services, such as Pageflakes and Netvibes. Any of these will allow you to assemble your own personalised view of various content sources. This can be a mix of RSS/Atom feeds, email applications or pre-configured widgets, such as news, weather maps or currency converters, etc. that you can choose from an application store and just drop into the dashboard. Furthermore, you can share an entire personalised page that you’ve set up with your contacts, i.e. the “social”  element once again.

Step 4 Pick the right tools

Ok, easier said than done. Knowing what the “right” tools are usually involves some experimentation with the tools, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all environment. I’ve started with what is arguably the most important tool in the toolbox – the web browser This is your window into the World Wide Web, with all its millions of services and billions of users. Having a web browser that supports plug-ins is a fundamental requirement for me, since I can then integrate other products and services into the browser and access with one-click. Tabbed browsers are also useful in managing windows real-estate and PC resources, i.e. I don’t need to have several browser sessions active for different WebPages. I’ve shown Firefox, but I also use Google Chrome. Wherever possible I avoid Internet Explorer browsers (a personal thing). However, if you are a public sector worker, you may have no other choice than to use IE6, which effectively hobbles you from the start. It doesn’t support plug-ins or tabbed browsing. It doesn’t even support W3C standards and is without any doubt the worst browser currently in common use. It’s a bit like using a hammer to finely adjust the coil-spring tension on an antique clock!

I’ve shown the Delicious social bookmarking plug-in on the left hand side, which gives me immediate (one-click) access to any page I’ve bookmarked. I also have various bookmarklets installed in the toolbar, e.g. Amplify (a Twitter/Blogging service), again accessible with one click.

Step 5 Connect with Peers and Experts

In other words, grow your network. This could be achieved by joining one of the many social networks (e.g. Facebook), but if your goal is to improve your skills as a Knowledge or Information Professional would advocate joining a special interest group or a Community of Practice. I’ve illustrated the Local Government community of practice platform, but there are many specialist knowledge and information communities, e.g. KM4DEV, CPSquare, etc. I don’t think there is anything wrong in “lurking” on these networks to pick up useful information and to grow your contacts, but the real value comes from getting involved, posting questions, providing answers and just, well, collaborating and sharing knowledge.

So, with apologies to anyone for whom all of this is second nature and a bit basic, but maybe this isn’t aimed at you. I hope it is of some help to anyone who is perhaps just exploring the possibilities of the digitally connected world, or just looking for some help in getting themselves organised as a 21st century knowledge and information professional!


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The Knowledge Hub and Linked Data in Local Government

This is a presentation I did for the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO-UK) for their conference on 14th September 2010 on the topic “The Future of Knowledge Organization on the Web”.

The presentation covers the issues faced by users who need to connect and join-up online conversations and information from multiple networks and websites in order to gain domain specific insight and knowledge. Conversations are becoming increasingly disaggregated; useful data is disconnected and lacks context. The Knowledge Hub connects and semantically links multiple information sources to deliver a personalised user experience for supporting improvement and innovation in UK public services.

The Knowledge Hub is a LG Improvement and Development project that will be launched in February 2011.  If you are interested in knowing more, or participating in some way in the delivery of this ground-breaking initiative, you may want consider joining the Knowledge Hub Community of Practice.

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