This was going to be a comment in Dave Snowden’s blog post (which was a comment about one of my posts) but it has turned into a blog post.
It’s basically riffing on Dave’s comment about librarians having the real KM attitude of being people connectors, which gets knowledge flowing.
I’m in document management at the moment, but in my previous corporate librarian role a big part was in researching and sourcing information for staff, as well as updating people on the latestest in their industry.
This results in the librarian knowing the interests of lots of people in the organisation. We have to capitalise on this as we are one of the few people in the organisation who knows who likes what…so we introduce these people that have common interests, this is especially interesting if it’s cross disciplinary.
Introducing and linking people slowly creates a network, the librarian is overworked, but hopefully the network will start to manifest its own connections, but how will this happen (assuming people want to network) without enabling technologies.
Currently, and in most instances, people that have been introduced sustain their new relationship by sharing information by email, they might invite others to their informal group. This technology doesn’t provide a way to bump into others who may be interested in sharing this topic based information, in this situation we are still limited to physical connections a la the librarian.
The other part is that since this relationship doesn’t have a place (like a forum/CoP or profile pages) it may not sustain connectivity.
I wish I was using Google Reader in those days, as I could subscribe to various feeds related to a staff members interests and tag those subscriptions in a folder with that persons name. When I’m reading the feeds in that folder I tag useful items and they appear on a public page.
That person can bookmark that page or subscribe to it’s feed for daily updates.
But once they are updated, it becomes static, unless they email a link to someone else…there are better ways.
How can the librarian do this for everyone?
…instead people need to learn how to find feeds (librarians can still do their job of sourcing quality feeds) and use an RSS Reader themselves, and do their own bookmarking or link blogging.
Others can perhaps subscribe to their bookmarks or link blog feeds, and perhaps visit their public RSS Reader to see the feeds they read.
Plus people need to then push the information they are reading elsewhere, this works OK in email, but what is more effective is a more open and connected environment.
Explode this into a social network, and we all have profiles (listing expert tags), we have a blog, we add friends, compare feeds, subscribe to each others bookmarks, send links to each others, updated on friends activity, send private and public messages.
This is a sense of place that solidifies our relationship and interests, but much more than a group page, as it’s a profile network, endless connections and discovery can be made, it’s more an ecosystem.
See an RSS Reader social network like FeedEachOther, a Lifestream/people network like Ziki and Mugshot groups, link sharing networks, link blogs like and Siphs and Google Shared Stuff, collaborative recommendation, or everyone’s darling of 2007, Facebook.
Social networks can now replace the librarian being the people connector; RSS Readers enable people to read content from both internal and external feeds, we can send links to our friends, discover people, and now we have blogs to share thoughts and feedback and to spread and discuss news that we read.
These technologies are much more enabling, in the past the librarian would create various topic newsletters for various audiences, I guess now we could call this topic blogging and bookmarking.
Now everyone can do it for themselves, they can subscribe to content, do their own blogging and bookmarking and we can subscribe to each other (our trust filter, common abstraction, shared context) in a network and share and communicate.
This connection is with trusted people, we can also discover people and content (capitalise on weak ties).
So perhaps Dave Snowden is right…librarians being people connectors are what KM is about…creating knowledge flow.
The librarian can take a sigh of relief and let the network do its thing, and once again the librarian becomes the facilitator.