Managing knowledge or answering questions?

A recent conversation with Hadley Beeman @hadleybeeman made me ask again ‘what is knowledge management’?

We probably all agree that KM is a ‘good thing’ and a lot of organisations these days are setting up complicated (and expensive) infrastructure to ‘manage knowledge. However is this the best way of going about things by forcing people to write down what they know on the off chance that someone else wants to find exactly that piece of information?

Or are we really just trying to find answers to questions? If that is the case do we really need more pointers to the people with the answers and then try to capture some of these answers if it looks as though others are after the same answers?

Neil Franklin @neilfranklin made the interesting point recently that he often uses Twitter DM features as his personal intranet as opposed to his corporate system. Which made me realise that I do the same thing externally. I know a range a people with lots of different interests. When I have a question I try to fire it at the right person or group and usually get a great answer. I don’t expect these contacts to write down everything they know – though it is nice if some core information is captured on their blogs.

So what is the best thing to do? Can organisations mimic this ‘create your own personal flexible intranet approach’ and link them together (flextranet)? Or at least try something else before starting yet another Sharepoint implementation?

Social media monitoring – ‘what’s it all about, Alfie?’

I have been doing a quick and dirty review of social media monitoring software and thought it worth sharing my conclusions which are more relevant for the public sector:

1) use free tools and; 2) don’t pay software suppliers

I had wanted for a while to see what all the hullabuloo is about online reputation monitoring sofware – particularly as vendors keep harassing me.

So this is what I did – using the same keywords.

1) I got a external supplier to set up a dashboard in iGoogle using free tools

2) asked a colleagues to set up a similar dashboard in Netvibes

3) had a ‘big’ company set up a dashboard in their propriety software

The results were: a score draw for the free tools version; and an own goal for the paid for service.

Overall the actual intelligence delivered was the same – same blogs, same Twitter feeds – the same! So the paid for service did not have some secret sauce finding unexpected results.

Of course you need to bear in mind the pros and cons of each tool.

Free stuff – Its free. But needs a bit of maintenance and can break; difficult to track historical trends – unless you do a bit of special coding (I have seen it done).

Paid for – low maintenance – historical trends and probably smilely or sad faces which allegedly show sentiment. Somewhat expensive and you can only subscribe for a year (why not a month at a time?)

My tips are – use a bit of common sense – ask around see what others have been doing. Test suppliers against each other; compare the results against the free tools. Above all be sceptical.

Of course look at econsultancy (if you are a member its free) as they do an annual review of Social media monitoring software providers – its detailed and value for money. Also have a look at Fresh Mind’s recent – clear and very helpful review of suppliers (thanks to Tommy at Dft for the link). And of course two great blog entries from Neil Williams and Steph Gray (what else do you expect?)

http://neilojwilliams.net/missioncreep/2008/definitive-list-of-commercial-listening-tools/

http://blog.helpfultechnology.com/?s=dashboards

 

 

 

 

In praise of Teacamp

If you have not been to Teacamp recently you should be asking yourself ‘why not’?

For those who do not know Teacamp is usually on the first Thursday of each month at Cafe Zest within the House of Fraser store in Victoria from approx 4pm onwards.

The format is generally one or two ‘speakers’ who very informally give a short presentation on some relevant project that they have been working on. This is followed by a Q&A and a generaly chit chat and catching up with people. Those attending are often from Government departments, some of the freelancer coders/developers who work with government and others who find out by word of mouth.

The reason why I felt impelled to write this was because last week’s event was typical. I arrived feeling ignorant and left feeling chock full of knowledge and up-to-date on what other colleagues were doing and with various ideas to follow-up. Where else can the price of a cup of coffee (or even tea) provide such inspiration?

A lot of credit goes to the organiser who is often Jane O’Loughlin and the speakers who make the effort to share their experiences.

So what did I learn last week? Well without naming, names:

1) how a major department was planning to avoid replacing its CMS and spending a lot of money in the process by starting to use WordPress

2) an update on how the work done by Data.gov.uk site and associates is going to be complemented by some crowdsourced work on tagging and metadata

3) I passed my contact details onto a particular organisation I would like to collaborate with digitally

4) a colleague shared some information with me about social media monitoring – and later sent me a very useful piece of research

5) I a spoke to a former colleague and shared some informal research I had done on social media monitoring

6) oh yes and there was a great presentation by @lesteph on his work on taking forward online consultation technology

and lots more

So what is the reason you cannot make #Teacamp?

If you want to join sign up via http://www.ukgovcamp.com/

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