Pushing for simpler knowledge management

Dave Snowden’s blog Cognitive Edge has rapidly become one of my top sources for insight into the subtleties of managing knowledge in the organization. Earlier this summer, he packaged up some of his insights and advice on the connections between learning and knowledge that reflect his bias that “narrative material, anecdotes, pictures, fragments of stories is more valuable than structured documents and closer to the way we naturally share and create knowledge and learning.” [Learning lessons or lessons learnt? ]

For example, here is one of his action recommendations:

Learning lessons or lessons learnt?

  • Make capture continuous and a part of the job, not a post job after action review. The more capturing stories is part of the way we do things around here, the better it is. The other advantage is that you can then see trends emerging in the way that people index the story material which allows early intervention. This sort of switch is key to moving from a retrospective and codified set of documents, to a dynamic narrative based learning ecology.

We need to be learning lessons continuously, not documenting lessons learnt.

If many earlier approaches to knowledge management were technologically over-engineered, Snowden is essentially arguing for the power of simplicity.

Quechup is rotten: don’t accept invites

I got caught by one of these. My apologies to any of the (fortunately) small number of people in my gmail address book who might have been subsequently spammed by me.

Quechup is rotten: don’t accept invites

As blogged here yesterday:

While you were Burning / vacationing / spacing out offline this Labor Day weekend, many folks online were hit with invitations from a social networking service called Quechup that anally rapes your address book, and violates user trust by spamming all your contacts.

Now that people are coming back from the Labor Day holiday, expect a bunch of invites — I’ve received a dozen just this morning. Delete ’em if you know what’s good for you. Link to one of many first person accounts, Link to another. And another, and another (punch line: the spam blast created by Quechup caused Google to suspended that victim’s Gmail account).

True Names

  True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier, Vinge, Vernor

Vinge is a mathematician turned computer scientist. True Names is one of those stories that gains additional relevance for me because of its influence over many of those who went on to develop the technology for real that Vinge dreamt up in his fiction. This particular volume makes the story readily available again and surrounds it with a collection of interesting essays on the influence this story had during the formative days of the net. The story stands well on its own, but the essays are also worth your time.


  Daemon, Zeraus, Leinad

I came upon Daemon courtesy of a rave recommendation from Rick Klau. I’d have to agree with Rick that

It’s not enough that Leinad Zeraus (the author – a pseudonym? I don’t know) gets all the tech details pitch-perfect, or that the plot is intriguing. It’s the implications of the myriad technological improvements we’ve experienced in the last few years that Zeraus foresees that makes this book such a mind-bender. Is it far-fetched? Yeah. But only in the aggregate: each component on its face is completely reasonable… and as he starts to stitch together where he thinks things might end up, things get scary.

Good storytelling can be one of the best ways to wrap your head around the implications of the technology change we are immersed in. But that depends on finding storytellers who combine the talent for story with a willingness and ability to understand the pertinent technologies. Zeraus qualifies.

Highly recommended.