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KnowledgeBoard turns even more polyglot

Zones for other languages than english on KnowledgeBoard have been around for some time now. This week a Zone in german was added, called Wissensmanagement und Networking. The last word being as german as can be of course ;)
This is of interest to me as I live near the German border and have several contacts in other german speaking countries like Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well. Hope it turns out as a source for meeting new people with great ideas. Go check it out, or better: Geh schnell hin und schau nach!

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Quick links to follow up on later

Lilia Efimova points me to a new blog by Andy Boyd with the explicit goal to try and find out how blogs might be useful in commercial surroundings:

Here as part exploratory and as part of our KM research program I will be keeping a blog and asking my colleagues and others to come in and comment on it's use for commercial companies employees - our main purpose is to assess is this a tool by which we can share knowledge. 10 years ago I was skeptical about whether we could apply CoPs within industry and now after riding high on our success with them, this is yet another KM process to explore

I promised Denham Grey to start a discussion here on the use of blogs as a knowledge sharing tool, as we seem to have opposing views on this. Will have to honor that promise soon!

Lilia ends her reference to Andy with mentioning The Tipping Point and wonders if it will happen to blogs as well. Ross Mayfield links to the same thing: two references, a sign for me to go explore.

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The Science of KM

Often KM as a subject in Academia and as a practice in organisations seem to lead completely different and also isolated lives. Both regularly tend to shy away from the multidisciplinary aspects that are at the core of KM. In my opinion KM should embrace its multidisciplinarity because that's excactly what KM should do: network-straddling. That's why I am suspicious of initiatives where KM is proposed as a scientific discipline in it's own right. It is a discipline all right, the discipline of translating cross-disciplinary insights into good practice for organisations. Management in short. That's not science, that's application, so we should look for the science elsewhere. And that is what this proposal by Angela Nobre, co-founder of the Quaerere SIG at KnowledgeBoard aims at.

She says:

The idea is to explore, to develop and to integrate perspectives on KM Research coming from the broad areas of human and social sciences - namely from Anthropology, History of Ideas, Philosophy of Science, Cultural Studies, Political Science and, finaly, Organisational Semiotics, my current research area. Using Knowledge Economics and Knowledge Management as an integrating matrix, the objective is to focus on learning and innovation issues at organisational level.

And I would like to add psychology to that, as well as make sure that the role of technology is covered by philosophy of science. From a more managerial perspective (and this is the more applied stuff) I would also like to add to the mix, and then there is life system dynamics and game theory. This is a daunting list, and therefore a bit more discussion on where to take this is warranted.

I would not like to be looking for a Unified Theory for KM, for reasons stated above, but would like goals that aim for synergy and translation into practical stuff for Km-pros. Building the bridge between Academia (being part of it myself), and the Practicing Alchemists that meddle in the organisations (being one myself).

I think it is necessary to think out the proposal a bit more in another direction as well, otherwise we might end up with too broad a scope and too less focus. I can imagine people being able to contribute to only one or two of the disciplines in the spectrum, as sort of a thematic nucleus in the group, while others are the community bridges in this, perceiving how to connect the one discipline to the other. Or in other words, we will have to tackle some KM-problems in the area of community-building and content-guidance (I specifically shun the words control and management here), in order to be able to get some work done.

As always, you're thoughts are welcome.

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Contagious Blogging

A while ago I commented on Rick Klau's experience with corporate blogging, and ended with the question if blogging would be something to use within my own company.

The first thing I did was add the link to my weblog to my business e-mail signature. This to trigger curiousity, both amongst colleagues, as well as clients and others. In my experience seeing something is a more powerfull message than being told something without illustration. According to the serverlogs this indeed led to increased traffic to my blog.

blogging on composing (picture, manuscript of 17th c. Bauyn

One colleague was eager to discuss blogging with me as a result of this, he's also the QA-guy in our organisation. By way of experiment he has now started his own blog, called Jan's thoughts, written in Dutch. It's not related to our work, but deals with a passion of his: composing. He also has been advocating my blog with others. So I'm kinda curious what this will lead to. If my colleague hits it off with blogging, it might well be that we will together propose a blogging experiment for our company. An added bonus for me is that this colleague is no wizzkid or technical adept, which might go a long way yet in 'selling' the concept to the rest of the organisation.

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Creative Commons

I've just added a Creative Commons License to my musings here. Not to say don't touch my stuff, but to advocate the fact that it's ok to use what I post here, to advocate I explicitly want to share (why else publish it on the web). With a few restrictions that is: correct source attribution, no commercial use, and no alterations to the original texts. In return, I'll make sure to do the same for anything I use here.

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Open Branding

Last Friday I attended a roundtable of some 20 people in Amsterdam on "Open Branding". Now I don't know the first thing about branding, apart from being a consumer that is, but nonetheless it was a great day. The people behind the meeting call themselves Chief Brand Officers Association, or CBO, and envision honest brands (hence 'open branding') as the only way to go for organisations in the 21st century. The issues they address are things like trust, authenticity, leadership, value, transparancy, knowledge sharing, communication and the like. A familiar line up, for me, and I hope indeed for most KM-people. So their agenda closely resembled mine, and hopefully I could add to their discussions from my KM background usefully.

Later this year, a co-authored book by the CBO-group is to appear at Kogan Page, aiming to place Open Branding on the agenda's of CxO's around the world. Part of the discussion focussed on who to reach with the book, and how to do that. As with KM, translating a vision to the workplace will only be succesful if you can list the concrete issues and needs it will help address. You can't convince someone to do KM, if there's no identified need to deal with. So the risk of developing an answer in search for a problem is something to watch out for, especially with such a bookproject.

This inspiring get-together of branding experts will certainly be followed up with extensive e-mail discussions. Meanwhile webspaces to watch in relation to this are:
  • Chris Macrae at Valuetrue, and at the Emotional Intelligence SIG at KnowledgeBoard for his work on value indicators outside the traditional monetary and accounting ones.
  • John Caswell, for his contextual mapping methods, at
  • John Moore, on trust and authenticity, both at the Trust SIG on KnowledgeBoard and his own website of Ourhouse.

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    Trust, Emotion, Ratio

    Continuing the explorations of what trust is, Julian Elvé, the author of Synesthesia, picks up on my discussion with Gary Lawrence Murphy and adds his own thoughts and questions on how to bring Gary's view and mine under one hat. I wrote a lengthy comment on his post which I won't bother to reword here, so I'll just quote it verbatim:

    Hi Julian,

    Thanks for giving this discussion (the first topic I blogged on!) a new jolt with your contribution. You've guessed rightly that I too make trust based decisions on gut feeling most of the time. The only time I always consciously look for patterns of consistent behaviour is when I have a feeling that there's something rotten in the state of Denmark. But there's more to it than that for me.

    As you suggest, I'm getting more and more convinced that Gary's position and mine are not at all mutually exclusive. It's more like the same thing but on different levels in ourselves.

    This being said, I have to add two remarks that will probably clarify my personal take on this some more.

    First off, my exploratory writing on trust started out from the question how my behaviour, and the structure of the organisation I work in, might influence the trust involved in our relations with others (clients, organisations etc.), and how to consciously address those effects. Hence my accent on pro-active and conscious actions.

    Second, from early childhood on I have been very empathic. I, though I did not realise it then, could sense other peoples emotions very well, although I could not understand those emotions because of my age. When talking about my interpretations of what I sensed, people told me not to repeat what others had 'said' to me , or what I 'overheard' and which I didn't understand. Apparently there was something 'wrong' with my senses, or at least in using them. That's when I started putting a lot of thought into rationalizing things. As an adult I had a hard time bringing these two things together again, learning to trust my own emotions and senses again, and at the same time keeping the considerable power of rationality at my disposal as well. Or in Gary's words I've been trying how to learn this:

    "The more correct response is, IMHO, that while our brain colours our perceptions, humans are so blazingly successful on this planet because we can (not that we do, just that we can) transcend our physiology (when it's appropriate!) to reach for higher conclusions"

    What is also at stake here (and then I'll stop writing for now) is what made me side step Gary at first: the fear of accepting that something so powerfull and purposefull as rational thinking, could be based on, originated from, or even be tied back to back with animalistic hunches, intuitions and gut feelings.

    I am currently reading Daniel C. Dennet's 'Darwins Dangerous Idea'that makes an enormously strong case to do away with that fear that this origin should in some way taint the wonder of conscious thought, and makes it possible to the ratio in me to still enjoy that wonder while also embracing the above.

    Kind regards,


    On your question how to reflect emotions and trust etc in text on the net; apparently my solution is writing long texts trying to convey all the relevant points I wish to relate to you.

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    European K-logs on the Rise

    When I started blogging myself last november I received a comment from someone in the US, saying that it was great that KM weblogs were being started in Europe as well. I don't know anymore who the comment came from, but this will be certainly good news to him or her (and I happen to agree):

    Helen Baxter, editor of writes:

    Another exciting development coming soon is KnowledgeBoard blogs.
    If anyone is interested in running one then drop me a line. If you
    already run a Knowledge Blog or (K-log) and want to be added to
    the blog-roll I am currently collating then please send me your
    details and a link.

    The question 'to blog, or not to blog' is discussed widely now on KnowledgeBoard, especially since SĂ©bastien Paquet posted his fine article on Personal Knowledge Publishing part I (and part II)

    Other discussions around blogging on KnowledgeBoard:
    Olaf Brugman experimenting with a blog for the NGO-world, and
    the discussion that started off my own blog.

    For anyone seeking advice or someone to discuss the practical aspects of starting a blog with, Ross Mayfield, together with the BloggerTribe at Ryze, has started a blog buddy system.

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    My Neighbourhood in the Global Village

    My neighbouring websites, blogs and the like can be mapped now thanks to GeoUrl. The map is still a bit sparse, but the speed I see it going through the blogosphere with will change that fast enough I think. Thanks to Martin Roell for pointing me there.

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    What is Worth Knowing?

    This is the question that Peter Dear asks in his book 'Revolutionizing the sciences' (see right hand side under Just read) for two points in time: around 1500 and at the start of the 18th century. From the differences between both answers he builds a picture of the changes that brought about modern science in the period usually referred as the Scientific Revolution.

    The fact that the term Scientific Revolution, coined by the French/Russian Koyre with the Russian Revolution in mind, and eagerly adopted by young American historians with their own 1776 revolt against the British Crown in mind, hardly can be applied to a period of several hundred years, and taking place in the entire western world of that time, does not mean however that no major changes took place in scientific thinking. The biggest being the change from a vita contempliva to a vita activa, of learning Gods motives for Creation by direct observation and thought, to actively seeking out new things by experiment, i.e. mediated observation using tools and apparatus, and hypothesizing, in order to control the world. This also encompassed a change from a qualitative approach to get to know the world in which we live, to a quantitave, more mathematical, approach. A third change is that science became focussed on application. Practical use of new insights became highly important, driven by mercantile nations like England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands to further their control of the seas and thus increasing their wealth and power. Two hundred years before, in contrast, science and artisanship were totally different things, now Know how and Know why essentially became the same question. Not a revolution maybe, but certainly a major paradigm shift!

    Descartes, one of the first to claim he did something completely new...Newton, figurehead of the Scientific Revolution

    Now this is all very interesting but why am I posting it here? Because it brought to my mind the question of "What is worth knowing in the early 21st century?"
    Are we on the brink of a new paradigm shift in science? The emergence of different kinds of social sciences in that last 5 decades or so, brings qualitative approaches once again to the limelight. Fields like genetics generate ethical and moral questions by the truckload, that do not fit well at all into the current scientific world, as they can't be fit into mathematical rules and constructs. In my own studies, philosophy of science, so called 'sociological detours' are often used to get a grip on the complex interaction between technology (and its development) and society as a whole. Does the ever increasing defragmentation of scientific fields into ever more specialized subfields mean we have depleted the taxonomy of our current scientific paradigm? Much like it was in 1500 when the Aristotelian world view conveyed the impression that all the important things were known, stifling innovation?

    Most of these things are changes placing man back into the center of the scientific world view, instead of the cosmos ruled by laws of nature, of which mankind is a tiny and insignificant part. Also in management styles de-mechanization surfaces. Knowledge management, not looking at the IT-stuff, is based on this: how to give people the space and time to do their work to the absolute best of their ability, in line with organisational goals? People like Goleman places emotional ripeness at the basis of succes, where as we all grew up being thaught that intellectual prowess was all that mattered. Is this the foreboding of another major paradigm shift in our appreciation of what science is and should be? I don't know, but it would certainly mean that a lot of exciting developments are ahead of us!

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    SNA Comes to Blogosphere

    The Blogger Tribe at Ryze has been the subject of a social network analysis and mapping experiment by Ross Mayfield, Valdis Krebs and Pete Kaminski. The results of this SNA are interesting as it actually did two surveys at once. It checked out the connections between the members of the blogtribe both as members of Ryze and by their blogrolls on their blogs. Now we can try and compare the two outcomes.

    My girlfriend did the same sort of thing for my old fraternity a while back: which people do you meet in person, and which people do you e-mail. It turned out that different people were central nodes in both graphs, with only a few overlapping. Since geographical distance is not a likely reason for this in a country as small as ours, (the Netherlands is a two hour drive east-west, by three hour drive north-south), this was an interesting outcome.

    Social networks, stretching out to the sun

    There are a few points of improvement that would make the survey more valuable. First, as noted by both Sebastien Paquet (who is doing his own bit of research into blogs and also wikis)and Andrea Janssen, that the direction of links and reciprocity are of interest. As Sebastien writes:

    Link directionality should perhaps be more apparent. Links between weblogs are often not reciprocal.
    Horizons are not the same depending in which direction you follow the arrows. If you have a big inbound horizon you are highly visible and possibly influential. Many people know you. If you have a big outbound horizon you see a lot of landscape. You know many people. The two are different.

    Clearly this would enhance the map of this social network.
    For the analysis part of it, the question as to who are the important nodes, connecting people that would not have known eachother otherwise, is important. And then in a comparison between the two maps. (Also a comment made by Sebastien)

    A third point of interest for me would be to see how these maps change over time.
    I tend to explore the outbound links of blogs I link to myself and then add the interesting ones to my own outbound links. Through referrerlists I track inbound links as well, and add to my outbound links. So me reacting to my own visibility and my perception of the landscape in the blogosphere change my place in the network, especially since I only have been blogging for two months now. It would be great if it was possible to make sort of 'snapshots' of the networks as time proceeds.

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    New Year, New Blog, part II

    Olaf Brugman, SIG-editor at, Europes premier KM-portal, has started a blog experiment for his SIG.

    Welcome to the Blogosphere!

    The SIG, Neighbourhood, focusses on KM in NGO's. This is a type of organisation with somewhat different kinds of problems compared to businesses. NGO's differ greatly amongst themselves, but I think generally that money is scarce, relational networks are absolutely vital, logistics and people might be difficult, and working across cultures and time zones are issues. Most of these factors are important to businesses as well. The big difference however is how results are measured. With an aim on the bottom line that's in no way monetary, answers to the same organisational questions will probably turn out different as well. Also appreciation/acceptance of KM-thinking in NGO's is much different as well.
    the NGO-SIG logo at KnowledgeBoard

    All in all Neighbourhood adresses important issues, and I'm certain to keep an eye on activities there, as ngo's are amongst our (potential) clients as well.

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    New Year, New Blog

    (retry: as something went wrong posting this just now)
    Andrea Janssen, just within the last year, launched her new weblog on her new domain. Fliegen von ferne has moved to AndreaJanssen dot com under the title A Ja!

    She now owns her own domain and has started using Moveable Type, in stead of Blogger. This adds categories and search functionality to the features in her blog. Both things Blogger does not provide, neither in the free nor the paid version. As these are certainly desireable functionalities I will have to give some thought to this myself as well.

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    Happy New Year!

    I wish you all a splendid, succesfull 2003 richly filled with all kinds of learning experiences.

    My own new learning experiences this year will start with a course "Knowledge Management in Learning Organizations", next Tuesday, at university. I've just looked up the material to be (partly) studied for the first session:

    I look forward to it, just as I look forward to 2 new philosophy courses.

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    Ton/Male/31-35. Lives in Netherlands/Overijssel/Enschede/Bothoven, speaks Dutch, English and German. Spends 80% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes knowledge management.
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