I have been wondering what George Dafermos has been up to lately. He managed to fall off the face of the blogosphere almost 2 years ago now, and I haven’t seen much from him since.
Take some time and go back and read Blogging the Market. George’s paper was one of the first academic works to take a serious look at blogs, and he explored their relevance in the corporate world.
That same year I was floating a business plan, Knowledge Logs, Inc. was the name, with a focus on creating blogs inside the firewall. We had devised an algorithm to weight and rate individuals, providing active and direct incentive to contribute to the Knowledge Market. This was heavily influenced by George’s paper, and John Robbs work and discussions in the k-logs yahoo group.
We have learned a lot since then, and that is why we have created The Firestoker Project, as a way to put these lessons, and some new theories, into practice. Let me take a pass at what I think those lessons have been, I’ll try to follow up with more in a series of posts, I won’t get very many tonight:
It’s not about Knowledge
We used to think that knowledge itself was the end game. “If only we could just capture this knowledge, we could leverage it.” — none of us really knew what that meant, we all had so much of this “knowledge” inside our heads that we were on the brink of exploding. We didn’t know what it was like to be lost out there in corporate wasteland and to not be seen as one of the keepers of this, the so cherished and great KNOWLEDGE!
The truth is, it’s lonely being caught in the corporate world, and the storing of knowledge is not going to make me, you or your aunt Kathy a happy person. Finding this knowledge won’t make us any happier than storing it either.
Understanding is real Knowledge.
We always tell eachother that we will “keep in touch”. It sounds nice, but we rarely do. When I left highschool there were practically hundreds of people I thought I might keep in touch with, but the truth is that very few of those relationships have substance these days. During our childhood, me and my closest friends formed bonds that continue to transcend “keep in touch” and we must simply call in our old bond when we see eachother, and it feels like just yesterday we were shooting BB guns and trying to jump our bikes over cars.
We’ve learned that people don’t “Keep in touch” and we understand why — there is no compelling reason. It’s the same reason so few people engage others directly inside a corporate environment. The social and environmental stimulus of the highschool hallways has disappeared, and now our incentives are far different.
We know that there must be real social incentive to contribute, not an invented or algorithmic incentive.
There are many paths to God, but your manger thinks he’s God and there is only one door to his office.
Middle Management. Love to hate em’. How does a level playing field fit into the ethos of the defenders of command and control? Knowledge Management, Knowledge Logging, all the theories that have sprung out of them, none felt like they had to understand the middle manager.
In the world of Conversation and Imagination, the middle manager can be our greatest friend of greatest foe.
Which will it be?
Knowledge is alive and well, living in stories, do write when you get a chance.
Ok, my titles are getting more flippant, but it’s true: Story is the last refuge of real knowledge. So much of what we know is stewed in context. In the corporate and modern world, we try to embody knowledge itself in language, but that falls down. Like eating a lone potatoe from a stew, it has flavor but offers none of the satisfaction we seek.
Real, relevant and concrete stories are the pathway to understand, and then the use of knowlesge. Knowledge management systems, Wikis included, are meant to strip out this context. In turn these nuggets of golden knowledge are left cold and weak. We must surround them in a warm embrace of personality (the teller), comfort (the tone) and context (the story).
New software has to provide the Trusted Space for that context to emerge.
I’d love to hear about what some of the old k-log groupies have learned since then as well.