Duane at the information auditor has posted some thoughts on a paper he presented at the Special Library Association conference, SLA 2005: My presentation of 'Mark Twain and Knowledge Management'. He built up a discussion about KM from question of "what did Mark Twain (and steamboat captains) need to do with respect to knowledge?"
What I believe I discovered in writing the paper is that the challenges facing steamboat pilots were similar to those facing us knowledge workers: about transferring knowledge and skills from one person to another. Pilots required constant updates of knowledge and information, essential for river safety, fines on pilots and owners, and the revocation of pilot’s licenses. We so-called knowledge workers have to deal with constant change and ambiguity and manage huge amounts of information just as they did. So, how are we so different, or better, or beneficiaries of the knowledge era than those in the steamboat era?
It is good to remember that knowledge transfer and knowledge are not new concepts in our world, and that knowledge management isn't all about the technology. If you think KM is important, why? What business value are you going to get from it? What changes in your culture and business process are needed? Are changes needed to your technology infrastructure?