This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Knowledge and Storage

Judith Meskill points us to an article that mentions some new technology for knowledge workers: knowledge management barriers...

The following article is really about getting spammed on a continual basis, finally flipping your proverbial 'bit' and sending an email to the offending spammer threatening them with bodily harm and getting arrested yourself. However, it had a great closing pertinent to 'knowledge management' that I am citing below:
ITBusiness.ca :: You writin' to me?
by Dave Webb
...According to intellectual capital expert Nick Bontis of McMaster University, there are two major barriers in North America to a successful knowledge management environment. One is the input bottleneck -- though we can speak at 150 words a minute, most of us can't tickle a keyboard faster than 50 words per minute. This causes us to be selective about what we share, though frequent readers of this space might disagree. The second is cultural -- unlike, say, Japanese companies, North American firms tend to disseminate business information from the top down. Japanese workers are more accustomed to a collaborative environment -- horizontal sharing of information. North American workers lean more toward the knowledge-is-power ethic -- hoarded knowledge is leverage.

Recent vast improvements in speech recognition technology mean that the first barrier could soon be overcome. And there will be pressure, as companies recognize the value of knowledge sharing and try to enforce a culture that encourages it, for employees to be more forthcoming with their knowledge. In an environment designed for rapid and wide distribution of knowledge, we'll again run up against the immediacy issue. And we might share some things we'll wish we hadn't...

While storage is currently outstripping need, projects like Microsoft's MyLifeBits or Kurzweil's Age of Spiritual Machines are trying to dump the recorded life of people onto a disk. (These are two very different approaches, by the way.) At some point, we are going to have more stored than we will ever be able to use.

What is more interesting than the ability to record everything we say and do is the ability to summarize and lump common ideas together. I read a science fiction story in which "god" was a giant computer, orbiting the planet in a spaceship, monitoring what the inhabitants of the planet had been doing for centuries. In an effort to conserve its own resources, it started consolidating the descriptions of individuals to common themes and story arcs. While it couldn't reconstruct any single individual, it had a fairly good idea of what they were likely to do, given the history of others who had taken similar paths.

While artificial intelligence hasn't gotten that far, good knowledge workers should have access to tools that help summarize and condense large bodies of information (knowledge?) into intelligible chunks. While the Bible in 10 sentences might not convey enough information, the idea is there. Sample products include tools from Microsoft, eXago's eXero Summarizer, Lextek's Brevity, Kryloff's Subject Search Summarizer.

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