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Help me explore how hypertext, weblogs and wikis can best contribute to a vibrant, active and high quality corporate memory DenhamGrey 07/08/02

Do you agree with the KM issues given here: KnowledgeManagement ?? Denham

One difference between the language of weblogs and the language of KM, bridged incompletely in discussion of "K-Logs", is the question of audience. The audience of a typical weblog is open, changing, and unbounded; the natural audience of an internal, corporate K-Log, by comparison, tends to be closed, fixed, and finite.

It would be a mistake to make too much of the distinction, but one operational question needs to be considered in planning a K-Log: will it benefit each stakeholder? A personal memoirist need not be overly concerned if some of her friends have no interest in weblogs, but if your management (or your employees) cannot or will not read (and benefit from) an enterprise-wide K-Log, their enthusiasm for the project will naturally be limited. (--MarkBernstein)

Is Hypertext converging with KM? The evolution of link semantics in hypertext research for example is quite suggestive -

TimBernersLee illustrates the synergy between hypertext and KM in his book Weaving the Web:

When I proposed the Web in 1989, the driving force I had in mind was communication through shared knowledge, and the driving 'market' for it was collaboration among people at work and at home. By building a hypertext Web, a group of people of whatever size could easily express themselves, quickly acquire and convey knowledge, overcome misunderstandings, and reduce duplication of effort. This would give people in a group a new power to build something together...People would also have a running model of their plans and reasoning. A web of knowledge linked through hypertext would contain a snapshot of their shared understanding. When new people joined the group they would have the legacy of decision and reasons available for inspection. When people left the group their work already would have been captured and integrated. As an exciting bonus, machine analysis of the web of knowledge could perhaps allow the participants to draw conclusions about management and organisation of their collective activity that they would not otherwise have elucidated. Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, Texere, ISBN 1-58799-018-0.


DougEngelbart, a pioneer of hypertext research, formed the BootstrapAlliance [1] to pursue KM challenges:

The grand challenge is to boost the Collective IQ of organizations and of society; success of this effort will improve the capacity to address any other grand challenge. The improvements gained and applied in its own pursuit will accelerate the improvement of Collective IQ. This is a bootstrapping strategy. Those organizations, communities, institutions and nations that successfully bootstrap their Collective IQ will achieve the highest levels of performance and success. [2]

One of the missions of the BootstrapAlliance is to:

Foster development of an open platform information system infrastructure, based on an Open Hyperdocument Systems (OHS) framework [3]

How useful is experience in OpenHypertext research to the KM community? (--TimMilesBoard)

Interesting question Tim. Traveling the KM boards one does not hear much about Hypertext and ubiquitous linking seems to be assumed or subsumed in 'web-enabled' functionality. Finding communities that make explicit use of hypertext, discuss the functionality and have any familiarity with hypertext theory is very rare. Hypertext is used to link to personal profiles, to cross-link posts in forums, to point to internal file uploads and external resources.

Rather like rule inference (expert systems) has migrated to 'standard' database functionality, so I perceive hypertext has become an excepted and expected part of KM infrastructure. Do you see something the KM community may have missed? (--DenhamGrey)

Denham, it depends whether the KM community assumes that 'web-enabled' hypertext is all the hypertext community has to offer...

'Web-enabled' hypertext functionality (at least at the moment) compares quite unfavourably to the functionality we see in contemporary hypertext systems. In fact hypertext researchers have often lamented that the Web does not support many of hypertext's rich structuring, navigation and annotation features. It has even been argued that the Web isn't a hypertext system at all, and has more in common with a distributed file system. Here are some issues with 'web-enabled' hypertext that have been raised by the hypertext community:

  • Not every document type supports hypertext links - HTML, PDF, and MS Word documents do support hypertext links, but other media such as images, videos, CAD drawings do not.

  • Links must be embedded in HTML (or PDF, Word). Therefore Links cant be changed without revising the document.

  • Only the document owner can create links. What if you want to represent some expert knowledge about a set of documents that don't belong to you?

  • You can only link to a specific part of a document if the owner of the document has included provided the facility to do so (using <A name="foo"> HTML tags).

  • Links are uni-directional, they can only be followed in one direction and can only be seen from the originating end.

  • Links are binary, only one link with a single destination is permitted from any point.

Of course, some work-arounds may be possible (e.g. Wikis emulate bi-directional links by using a search), but it seems to me that the managment of knowledge on the Web, or a company intranet, will be restricted if `web' hypertext is the sole representation device. (--TimMilesBoard)

How useful are collaborative hypertext experiences to the KM community?


-- Last edited October 27, 2002

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