Thinking in public – knowledge management with a small k

Reminder. Paul McCann asked me to remind him (and other Chicago-area bloggers) when the upcoming presentations by Jim McGee and David Weinberger were scheduled, and this morning I got a message from Eric Sinclair renewing the plea for that reminder. So here we go: Jim will come to Seabury on Thursday, April 10, to talk about sharing knowledge via blogs (the title of his presentation will be, “Thinking in public — Can you do that? Is it safe? Is it wise? Weblogs in organizations.” He’ll be in the Seabury Lounge, I think, and the presentation will start at 7:30. David Weinberger… [AKMA’s Random Thoughts]

I'm flattered that AKMA was kind enough to sandwich me between David Weinberger and Ben and Mena Trott who presented last month. Hanging out in such company has to be a good thing.

I'll be sharing some thoughts, observations, and questions about how weblogs are beginning to be used as one more tool to help make knowledge work more effective inside organizations. The perspective I've been poking at for some time now is what happens when you begin to revisit the idea of knowledge management from the point of view of making individual knowledge workers more effective.

Think of it as knowledge management with a small k. The wave of solutions offered under the rubric of knowledge management prior to weblogs was largely driven by vendors with a centralized, top-down, organization centric view of the problem. At best they were attempting to solve the problem of knowledge management (whatever that might be) from the perspective of the organization, not the perspective of the knowledge workers doing the knowledge work. A good portion of the resistance to these knowledge management efforts is sensible resistance to extra work that has no demonstrable payoff for me as a knowledge worker.

I started experimenting with weblogs and precursors to weblogs several years ago and began to publish a public weblog about 18 months ago. I've found the notion of weblog as backup brain to be a powerful metaphor for finding the value of weblogs to the work of an individual knowledge worker within an organization. 

One of the central things that occurs with this strategy is that you have to start learning how to think in public. That certainly can feel like a risky thing to do. In some organizational settings it might well be risky. But I'm increasingly convinced that developing that skill will be an important aspect of what organizations must learn to do to survive and thrive in today's world. If you're going to be near Evanston next Thursday night, do drop in. If you're lucky AKMA's wife will provide molasses cookies again. Then it won't matter whether I have anything useful to say or not.