partial recall

a blog of ideas, links, and musings.

Enterprise Information Architecture and the Need for Knowledge Management


James Melzer, fellow CLIS graduate, spoke to my grad school class last week regarding Enterprise Information Architecture. James has a great complement to Lou Rosenfeld’s original.

I was a little stuck on James’ use of content/document/record, but I realize I do not have the library background that he does for discerning these document types. Of note is that James indicates that good IA precedes good CM development. Consequently, his diagram seeks to convey the relationship between the two.

My argument would be that we must broaden the definition of Information Architecture, because IA is not simply used as a precurser to CM or other types of information system development, but also for KM development. Unfortunately, not all knowledge is captured in a system electronically. Isn’t a part of the job of an Information Architect to also perform information audits to determine where both information and knowledge stores reside, particularly if they are not captured electronically or if there’s unnecessary redundancy?

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Nomad on August 19, 2005 AT 08 pm

In my experience, KM (knowledge management) is really an attempt to systematize that which is fundamentally tied to individuals. I am a rabid documenter and seek to put everything I know into a form that my teammates can use. But in the end, they don’t use it. They come to me, because I already know it. Most KM systems that I have seen either (1) seek to be documentation storage media (and fail, because the knowledge is a human-centric thing) or (b) seek to be human-expertise-mapping software, essentially telling you who knows what and ultimately making the “guru syndrome” even worse. Now it is not just ones direct coworkers coming for help – it is upper manegement, too.

The fact is that we do not need more KM, we need more knowledge transferrence and knowledge dissemination. Problem is, disseminating knowledge generally means not using it for productive things in the short term (which it is being taught) and thus most businesses are unwilling to invest in it. Even though it means HUGE productivity hits every time the “guru” walks out the door.

Rob Fay on August 20, 2005 AT 09 am

Nomad, I agree with you. However, an alarming statistic that makes a solution necessary is that over the next 5 years or so, 50% of the federal government workers will be retirement age. I have a feeling the government will be throwing a lot of money towards finding a viable solution.

If IAs are already working to organize and disseminate information via an information system, it only seems natural that knowledge management could be a component that could be captured, tagged, and organized on a corporate intranet.

KM, as you mention, is not simply data that can easily be captured and categorized. It’s certainly much harder to capture knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. However, I am optimistic that some solutions are available. You mentioned KM systems that can point persons to the “guru” in one’s corporation. That’s one idea, but it doesn’t address the knowledge that departs when the employee leaves.

Take this example: One of my grad school teachers (I didn’t take a class with him), Dr. Oard, is leading a project to develop automated access tools for recorded speech, working with video interviews from more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors that were compiled by the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation founded by Steven Spielberg.

I think this has a direct application for KM technologists because just as Dr. Oard is working to make thousands of hours of videotaped interviews accessible to persons who speak other languages, so too can this kind of rich retrieval method be used for KM tools of media files.

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