Use the Tools First: Then Talk to Me.

November 7, 2007

in Knowledge Innovation

Wednesday morning at KMWorld 2007. I’m finding it hard to focus this am. I just walked out of one session where the presenter made a joke about Facebook. I checked; I’m fairly sure he’s not on it. That’s a big problem that exists here. You cannot talk about the impact of wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, tagging, even search unless you actually use them. I don’t find proof all that often. RSS? I don’t even think I’ve heard it mentioned. Yet increasingly RSS is the wiring that simply connects your “stuff” up. I’m a big believer in learning by doing. I’d love to see real case studies where a real ethnographic study has been done on how people are using these tools. It needs the commentary so those that aren’t participating actually begin to rethink where and how it may be appropriate. You cannot understand a blog or blogging by doing it for a month or trying it and abandoning it. Similarly, I didn’t really start to get some aspects of Twitter until I began following a much larger number of people. So it frustrates me when I hear… “Twitter: I don’t see any point to it… or I’m not going down that time sinkhole.”

A separate example. I’ve been sharing Flock1.0. Flock1.0 was in beta until recently. It is the first social browser which out of the box integrates your social networks, media, bookmarking and feeds. It’s not perfect, it is a major step forward. Despite that everyone I have introduced to it immediately switches or switches within hours to Flock 1.0 as their default. So why is Flock important? It’s what “we” use to look at information and share. It is what everyone’s next browser is going to mimic in some way. I’m more interested in what people are using and how they are using it. The fact Flock hasn’t been mentioned yet suggests to me that KM remains too focused on ideas about knowledge rather than the more practical how do we share, and what is it that we find easy to share. What’s more, new tools like this appear by the day. You don’t need to monitor them all. You do need to see the important one’s on day one. Skype was an example, Facebook API similarly, Flock 1.0 almost fits in that camp.

There is no KM2.0 model today. Perhaps that is the way it should be. Fragmented. Fragments certainly fit with Dave Snowden’s theories. Maybe we should just throw out the concept and go back to me, you, and us? When you use these tools everyday it’s easy to forget that the rest of the world isn’t quite there yet. Sharing and creating the stories of what could be.. I think that is exciting.

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