Allan Bonner talks about some of the history behind knowledge management and the difficulty we have in separating new technology from what might be more interesting in Locating the Human Element: In Search of Knowledge Management
We are all striving to manage knowledge in such a way as to benefit workers, shareholders, customers and ourselves. The concept of 'knowledge management' and the departments it is spawning speaks to the importance and impact of knowledge. But no one seems quite sure whether we are on to something new, or just have a pumped up name for the IT and MIS departments, or even the old research library or archives.
Bonner does a nice job of reviewing the history of our technology obsession, including this quote from the beginning of the 20th Century:
A new law of Nature has come into force-that of convergence. ...in the twentieth century, by means of technology [we are] creating 'compressive convergence.' Thanks to technology, our 'hitherto scattered' species ... [is] being united by a single 'nervous system for humanity, [a] living membrane,' a single 'stupendous thinking machine,'a unified consciousness that would cover the earth like 'a thinking skin'
Technology is always new, but nothing is new in how we related to it. It's either going to solve the world's problems, or it is going to cause the world to fall in upon itself.
Knowledge management needs to get away from the obsession with technology, and talk about how new knowledge is generated. This involves using what we have today to improve business for tomorrow.
[Article thanks to ITToolbox subgroup on KM.]