James Dellow tagged me (and others) after answering Kate's question: How do you decide what to blog on? I was listening and, as promised, will answer this question too. I read John Tropea's and Jack Vinson's answers too.
The topics I blog about are in the area of information and knowledge management. By following blogs and websites using Google Reader I stay up-to-date on the news in these areas and learn from insights of people I admire in the field. I also post on my ideas and thoughts, mostly triggered by the things I read.
What I usually do is go through my feeds, 'star' the posts I find interesting and want to read. (In the past I would also go through my Google Alerts, but I'm doing that in Reader now!) Furthermore I keep in touch via Twitter. If someone 'tweats' a question I can answer, I'll do that immediately. If someone points to an interesting post I don't follow, I'll open it and save it in Reader (so I can read it later and it's stored in my Reader).
After processing my feeds, I check the starred posts, open them, skim through them and see if they're interesting enough to read more closely. I select the ones I want to read more closely on a couple of criteria. A.o. I select posts that answer questions I have and I select posts that I think I'm going to comment on. I always try to leave a comment if I like the post, even if it's a short comment. Just to say thanks.
I usually print the interesting posts (- I work for a printing company... -), read them in the car on the way home or on the way to work (don't worry I don't read and drive, I carpool), write some comments in the sideline and wait for a good time to write one or more posts. And there's always not enough time...
Sometimes I also post about topics that are not in scope of this blog. I do that just for fun and to show I'm not only about IM and KM. (Although I don't intend to get too personal on my blog. This blog is about my work.)
I use my blog:
- to write down thoughts and ideas I have about things I bump into on the web or in real life. Of course, you could do this in Word too, however blogging about it adds value: you have to write down your thoughts in such a way others can read and understand it too. I'm learning by openly communicating my thoughts, also hoping others will read it and build upon it.
- to share what I like on the Internet. I bookmark links and post 'recommended links' on this blog (automatically). I also read the 'recommended links' from others. I see it as social search. Others are keeping track of interesting stuff on blogs that I don't follow and I do the same for them.
- to ask questions. I also ask questions on my blog, when I run into things I don't understand. I believe there are no stupid questions.
- to share what I've found and what I think. Very regularly I send links of my blog posts to people that ask me my opinion on a certain topic. "It's on the blog". I also see my blog as my "extended memory".
- to show I want to be open and (pretty) transparent. I'm knowledgeable (to a certain extent) and want to listen and learn from others, because I can't and don't know everything.
- to live blog conferences or external workshops
- to amplify someone's idea or insight, by simply passing it on with a short comment or recommendation
I'll go ahead and follow James' example and tag a few others (asking them to answer the question too). So, it's your turn:
A small 'brain fart' (idea).
One of the great things about paper is the fact that you can put pieces of paper side-by-side. This is great when you have to review a document or check difference between documents.
This 'feature' of paper is not supported well in the digital domain. eReaders and computers have a hard time mimicking this. However, using multi-touch screens, like Microsoft Surface, brings this concept closer to the digital domain. Then again, most people don't like to read from a screen. Reading from an eReaders seems to better (more paper-like).
I carpool to work. Yesterday on our way back we were talking about the affordances of paper vs. digital documents. And then we wondered: why can't we combine what eReaders are good at with what multi-touch is good at? We would then have a screen that could be integrated into our desks, giving us lots of freedom to move documents around, annotate and resize them, search on them, pile them, etc. But, because the screen is an eReader screen, the documents are readable too.
What do you think? Is this a good idea? Do you think this is possible? And, would this bring the paperless office closer?
I agree that using "intelligent text mining" is an interesting approach to expertise location in companies (and on the internet). We experimented with this some time ago in the company I work for with interesting results. This experiment was set up because - as we all experience - employees fill in their Yellow Page profile, but don't keep them up to date. (In our company 10% filled in their profile and 3% of that 10% kept it up-to-date...) Relating the filled-in profile to mining could trigger employees to keep it up to date. And it could also (partially) fill in their profile.
We also combined this with a more social approach, which is now being capitalized in Guruscan. Because using mining to find and define expertise limits you to what's in databases. And when we write reports about a tool, for instance, we don't mention we're very good at PERL programming. Maybe the report shortly mentioned the tool has been programmed in PERL, but that doesn't say much about the level of expertise. So, this social layer collects the tacit stuff. It's a necessary layer and it's also closet to real expert networks.
We've published quite a bit on our work. Here are two references:
- Samuel Driessen, Willem-Olaf Huijsen, Marjan Grootveld, “A framework for evaluating knowledge-mapping tools”, Journal of Knowledge Management, 2007, Vol. 11, Iss. 2, page 109-117.
- Willem-Olaf Huijsen, Samuël J. Driessen, Dion Slijp, "ExpertFinder: Collaborative Expertise Localization", I-Media 2007.
[Thanks for the pointer, Google Operating System]
Anyway, I didn't know Flowgram before and was invited to try it. Here's what I think of this webapp.
First of all, the user-interface is great and very intuitive! I didn't have a problem sorting things out and finding how I could get something done. It just works!
So, I just went on and made my first flowgram. (I didn't make it public yet, because it contain some stuff I don't want to share just yet.) The nice thing is Flowgram allows you to make a presentation consisting of all kinds of files (Office, links, RSS feeds, pictures, etc.). You simply select the file, it's uploaded for you, then you can reshuffle the deck, add audio to the presentation and you're all set. You can then share the Flowgram as-is, or in Youtube. The way they integrated all this and kept the whole process (from creation to distribution) is really great.
This is wonderful stuff for trainers. However, I was thinking how I could use it for my work. I tell you what I think later on.
First, some remarks about the features:
- You can add a note to a webpage. It would be nice if you could fix it to part of webpage. And you can't add a note to documents.
- It would be nice if you could add arrow(s) and circles to pictures and parts of documents/webpages.
- Importing a Word-doc went well, but it was presented in a way to small font. For pdf I had the same issue. When you're on that part of the presentation you can zoom in (Flash zoom), but this not saved.
- It would be very nice if you could uploads types of content and then download those types again (unpackage). Why this could be neat is explained below.
- Adding email to a Flowgram would be nice. Of course you can copy-paste an email, but to make things easy 'eml' import or allow 'forward to flowgram' could be added too.
- Youtube now has a feature to embed parts of the video's. Wouldn't it be nice if we could embed (parts of) a Youtube video in a Flowgram?
What I like about this tool is the fact that you can bundle different types of content (- keep things in context!). This is extremely important for knowledge workers and hardly supported by tools. That's one of the reasons we still work with paper... (More info on this topic can be found here and here.) For instance, when we're researching a topic we usually work with a combination of emails, Word and Powerpoint docs, webpages, etc. Using Flowgram, this can be done in one place.
However, for this to be useful, a user would also have to be able to unpackage a Flowgram to get the different files back in their original format.
Anyway, I'm going to keep trying Flowgram and see where this goes. Flowgram emailed me they're working hard on new features, also some of the ones I requested for.
My previous post was my first post using Windows Live Writer! ChiefTech's James Dellow advised me to try it after my 'rant' about Blogger's 'network timeout'. I don't know where you start writing your post, but Livewriter seems to be a good place to do it. You can easily type in your posts, save draft posts and publish them when you're finished. The tool works intuitively. It even copies the style of your blog, so you directly see what it will look like when it's published.
How do you write blog posts? Do you write them directly on your blog platform? Or in Word or Notepad? It would be interesting to collect the ways bloggers do this!
And, James, thanks for the tip!
- the best way to share knowledge
- conversations as the future of conferences
1. Knowledge can only be volunteered, it cannot be conscripted.Great principles to chew on (as Mary Abraham says). Not only for the legal profession, but for all companies!
2. We only know what we know when we need to know it.
3. In the context of real need few people will withhold their knowledge.
4. Everything is fragmented (also refer to this one).
5. Tolerated failure imprints learning better than success.
6. The way we know things is not the way we report we know things.
7. We always know more than we can say, and we always say more than we can write down.
With respect to 'number 4' I'd also like to point to another great post by Snowden on bottom-up, low-cost knowledge management, starting with setting up blogs.Wiki's could/should be the next step in Snowden's bottom-up, low-cost community-building approach! John Tropea of Library Clips tells us how, by answering the question how blogs relate to wiki's.
It was a really interesting read. For one, to see how far we have come. But it also stressed some issues in collaboration that are still very hard to support digitally.
To begin with the last point. This article gives an interesting Table (table 3) with an overview of "Attributes associated with work processes". Or, in another way, it summarizes the tension knowledge workers live in. These tensions are:
- unstructured <> structured
- static <> dynamic
- ad hoc <> predefined
- one person <> multiperson
- single use <> repeatable
- business critical <> not business critical
- automated <> not automated
A while back I pointed to the "IT Flower". The IT Flower showed that applications try to support these tensions, leaving gaps. For instance, ERP, PLM or some ECM systems are good at supporting very structured business processes, but they're not good at supporting less structured processes such as document collaboration. For document collaboration most people would rather use a wiki, for instance. But, as we know and experience, there's always stuff that seems to be in-between. Or stuff that moves from the wiki to a more formal tool and back. How is this supported? Usually your regular 'copy-paste' comes in here.
This point is rightly stressed in this old(er) article:
Knowledge workers need a simple way to change unstructured, informal processes into more formal, structured processes.
Whereas transactional, procedural descriptions of (these) processes are important, we tentatively agree with Guindon, who argues that formal versions of work may provide their principal value as reference versions of what must be done by the conclusion of an activity, rather than as maps of how a business activity should actually progress.
What do you think? Will this be bridged? And how will it be done?