Another Year Older
It was in the month of September that Knowledge Street was born, and since it was also 2002, that means we're now entering our
eighth year as a KM and communications consulting company. That was a long time ago, eh?
George Bush's approval ratings were just starting their long, inexorable slide, Sadam Houseein was still
calling the shots in Iraq and Barack Obama was a junior senator in Illinois. The Euro became the official currency of Europe. J. J. Abrams was working on Alias, with Lost still years in the future. A
Beautiful Mind took home four Oscars, including best picture. A lot can happen in eight years.
So as the kids go back to school, and we gear up for the last few months of 2009, we'd like to
say thanks to all the friends, family members, colleagues and customers who've helped us keep the doors open. We couldn't have done it without you.
Victor Newman is a self-described "Knowledge Activist,” based in the UK, who's been a fan of Directions for several years. Responding to one of our pieces last month, he sent an article of his own with some similar themes. We liked it, and asked if we could include a link in this issue. He said yes, so here it is: "The Innovator's Got to Do It!"
He makes the point that while we may hope Knowledge
Management can stimulate collaboration and thereby increase innovation, real innovators will be relatively immune to KM's charms. They don't pay attention to rules, take lessons or otherwise follow the
literature. They're innovators because innovation is part of their DNA, and they couldn't stop innovating if they tried. Those who succeed owe a lot to luck, or to good timing in the marketplace. Not
everyone can do it, and the ability to innovate probably can't be taught.
So if you're a manager who's charged with increasing innovation in some fashion, your best strategy might be just getting
out of the way. Don't try to dictate innovative approaches. Find the people who've already got the bug, and figure out what you can do help.
The Tribes of Cyberspace
Here's a link to an old but interesting blog post about how social networks, Facebook and MySpace in particular, are evolving in an educational context. Given that both have a walled-garden, members-only strategy, could they be turning into closed ecosystems of cultural evolution? Are these networks a kind of virtual Galapagos in which the congregation of like-minded people perpetuates the kind of segregation that the Web was supposed to break down? (There's another link in that post, to a scholarly piece by Danah Boyd of the University of California (Berkeley), which suggests that the populations of these two sites are representative of class divisions in American society. She feels that a person's choice of tools reveals something about their roots and preferences.)
Things are always changing, of course, and Facebook's demographic has shifted dramatically in the last 12 months. After starting as a Harvard-only community in 2004, it gradually accepted other
college students. In mid 2005, it allowed by-invitation membership for (presumably) college-bound high school students. Three years ago this month, all were welcome. Facebook is now the preferred network
for 40- and 50-somethings. How about them apples?
The early pioneering networks have the strength of their numbers. Facebook is the top dog, and now claims over 250 million active users; MySpace
has leveled off at about 125 million. But the newer, smaller sites are more likely to come up with the innovations that will really add user value. As the BBC has observed, bridging that gap between old and new may unleash the real power of social networking.
Keeping Track of Your Stuff
If you're the kind of person who's happy to loan things to family and friends, you've
probably suffered from Mysterious Loss of Property Syndrome (MLPS). MLPS is characterized by feelings of anxiety that occur when you go to fetch something and can’t find it. "Didn't I have a fondue
pot?," you wonder. Granted you haven't seen it in years, but you can remember it clearly. Where can it be? Or that CD of the October Sky soundtrack, now out of print. Did I loan that to someone?
MLPS sufferers can always keep a journal or a checklist, of course, but now there's a new, Web-based alterative. At Rentoni, you can
create an account to keep track of the things you loan and borrow, and let its automated-reminder engine handle the sometimes embarrassing job of trying to get stuff back. If you pay them a visit, be
aware it's a very new company, based in Poland, and its English is -- how you say -- not so good. It's a free tool, though, so it might be worth a try. Perhaps with better technology, the Lost Ark might
not be lost. (Thanks to our old pal Gloria Ochoa for the recommendation.)
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