Weblogs for corporate knowledge sharing and management

I’m still giving considerable thought to weblogs as so much has changed since
I first was so excited about this concept. For me weblogs comprise a large part of my interaction with the Internet and it has become an indespensible tool for research, learning, sharing and convenient means for self expression.
Weblogs use the web for what it is good for – connecting and interacting.
For the longest time weblogs have been a closely held secret of mine on how to find information on the web. Google is great and very effective but imagine for a moment that you have this network of people who you share common interests with all looking for information on these same topics, all sharing what they found, all adding there own perspective and you see that the possibilities for research and learning are far more promising than simply relying on Googles search algorythms. All these human editors and researchers networked together actively, whether they know it or not, working towards the same goal – acquiring knowledge. Witnessing these sites connect together
into a singled threaded conversation, across cultures, across experiences, and across continents is absolutely amazing.
I could have really used this ability when I was a student of music. Instead I had to travel to conferences, competitions, and hang out in smokey bars all to acquire a minuteamount of information as compared to what is available to me now.

And this data is contextualized, it’s filtered, and designed. It’s not noise – it’s
entirely relevant and useful.
So obviously I have been psyched about the concept for sometime. My usage is no longer a guarded secret, it’s now the mainstream. And my usage patterns are naturally not the only way people are using the concept. Some other current uses for weblogs include: customer service, interactive journalism (an exciting use), self-marketing, storytelling, community building, social reform and communication.
It’s important to me and useful to others but how about that huge enterprise I work for?
Well most companies don’t place employee self-expression very high on their priority list – at least in terms of their intranets. But most smart companies are and should be very interested in my other usage pattern; which is commonly coined knowledge sharing and knowledge management.
I think weblogs and inexpensive tools like moveabletype have a role to play in the enterprise.
But in thinking of a way introduce weblogs for use as a knowledge management toolI found an excellent idea for grass roots, bottom up approach, to KM which follows that KISS process which we always seem to forget in favour of complex expensive solutions. Naturally I found this through a weblog. I have reprinted these ideas as to ensure their longevity – sometimes these links have a way of disappearing.
My recommendation: Start simple. Get that working and then add complexity when there is demand for it.
“There is only one good approach to approach bottoms up KM development:
1) Start with a simple system (ie. like a weblog publishing tool like Radio) using tools that allow future innovation. Try it out with a small team to pilot it. Post the weblogs to the Intranet (all you need is an FTP location for each weblog — very simple).
2) Get people publishing daily what they are working on. Make sure they understand the basics of publishing to the Intranet. The chronological format. The archives.
3) Help them to start subscribing (via RSS) to each other and essential news sources. This is again a simple thing to do. That way, they have lots of good fodder for posts.
4) Next. Ask team members to begin to create category specific weblogs. Show them how they can post from inside their tool to as many or as few category specific weblogs as they choose. Ask the team to create similar categories dedicated to specific projects or topics. Encourage people to subscribe to projects that they are interested in.
5) Build a community system for the weblogs. This will allow people to get community pages that include recently updated weblogs, top weblogs by pageview, etc. This will help people find each other.
6) Write up the results and begin to encourage other teams to join the community. Sell the concept. Encourage use by having the pilot team read and recommend changes to the new community members.
At this point, there should be a steady flow of great information, data, and knowledge flowing to the Intranet and between community members.
7) Next, begin to experiment with ways to slice and dice the knowledge that is being generated. Try a search engine, build directories (ie. Active Renderer), add metacontent to the publishing process (ie. Live Topics), enable e-mail to weblog publishing, aggregate RSS streams, connect to Web Services, etc. There is so much that can be done at this point.
The key to making this work is to make it easy and valuable for people to publish. Success here will solve the knowledge “capture” problem. Community development will help spur greater involvement and more frequent updates. Only at the point when you have a viable system should you start to try more innovations in how the information is organized. In fact, what you will see is that people will start asking for new ways to organize information/knowledge in order to save time and get more value out of the process. Without this demand side of the equation, selling complex KM will not work.”