Tuesday, 24 November 2009


How do you produce new knowledge? Behind this simple question lies a complex
set of activities and good practices. First of all, it is important to
understand what knowledge is.
Despite many fancy definitions, "knowledge" simply means what a person
knows. No other object can contain knowledge other than the human mind. A
computer can never "know" something. It can process information, but at some
point a human mind is required to make sense of it all. Furthermore, we need
to revisit the term production. Production means to produce something new
from some raw materials. It is something useful that we can apply to meet
our needs. Therefore, to produce knowledge means to take some raw material,
process it together with other materials to enhance what a person knows.
Now, what are these raw materials? Raw material for the production of
knowledge is called data. Data for knowledge production is acquired by means
of research methods. The modern practice is to acquire data by accessing
what is readily and openly available. Extensive jargon has been developed
around this practice, such as "open access". Eventually it simply means
that the researcher access what is easily available in a cost-effective way
such as the internet or the traditional library, before phoning, e-mailing
or interviewing an expert. However, the experienced researcher knows that
open access do not necessarily mean acquiring complete reliable data.
Reliable and complete data means reaching out to the community where the
data is situated. A community is a group of people who act together for a
common purpose. Therefore, the researcher needs to interact or intra-act
with the community to acquire the data. Interaction means communicating with
them over a distance. Intra-action implies moving into the community,
gaining their lasting trust and respect. Jargon such as "action research",
"field research" and "communities of practice" have been developed around
this practice. It means that a specific community willingly share what they
know to serve a collective purpose.
The gathering of data for knowledge production is becoming a very exiting
venture. Nowadays communities vary from the African village to online social
networks. The challenge to knowledge production is to become part of these
communities and to serve the community by not only gathering data from them,
but to process the data into knowledge that could be used for community

Dries Velthuizen

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


I attended this conference from 3-4 September 2009 in Vicenza, Italy. I combined it with a much deserved holiday, visiting Venezia and Roma. Apart from enjoying the environment, I also used the opportunity to update myself on the novella and sonnet as art form and possible instruments to convey knowledge to others.
During the conference I decided to focus on the "Web 2.0 for Knowledge Sharing" stream to enhance my own knowledge on the subject. On the second day this stream was enhanced by a keynote address by Frieda Brioschi (Wikemedia Italia) and a Knowledge Cafe facilitated by David Gurteen on "Is Twitter an over-hyped fad and a total waste of time or is it the most powerful of all the KM social tools? The rest of Day 2 I spent on attending presentations in different streams. This narrative is therefore not a summary of the whole conference, but a summary of observations of selected presentations.
It was found that there is a movement away from collection and access to "conversational knowledge production". This trend was stimulated by the financial crisis (with organizations seeking more affordable technologies) and the emergence of new technologies and applications. It will require from the knowledge worker to learn new skills to enhance internet and e-mail skills.
Methodology for Implementing Web 2.0 systems
Requirements analysis (Sense-Making 3-6 months)
 Agree on common purpose.
 Determine all stakeholders.
 It should meet organizational needs (what should change and why?).
 Determine individual and group profiles.
 Envision the knowledge flows.
 Envision the non-technological human interfaces needed.
Design, implement and partially populate the system.
 Envision the knowledge-sharing platform needed.
o Inform
o Navigate
o Develop people
o Search
o Collaborate
 Collaborate with "Oracle" in the organization.
 Standardise the collaboration space.
 Adapt research/knowledge production process.
 Select the right technological tools for the purpose.
 Plan the life cycle of a work-space. Every issue should have a tool with an own life-cycle for that specific purpose.
 Ensure integration with the group or individual's project.
 Ensure link to the tools from the company intranet portal.
 Do not separate it from other systems.
 What will attract people to the site?
 Identify people from different disciplines who are knowledgeable and willing to share in real time.
 Ensure that a critical mass of nodes participates.
 Empower end-users in the "pillars" of social networking (conduct, freedom, neutrality), including user-created taxonomy, new research techniques, collaborative knowledge production to seek consensus and security procedures (blogs can be created for this purpose).
 Accommodate the needs of individuals to master specific skills.
 Practice team-work.
 Remove "knowledge lock" (all employees/community members allowed to participate).
Allow Evolution of Workspace: Prevent failure or decline in use
 Regular measuring of social capital (organisation specific):
o Density of participants
o Number of participants
o Means of sharing
o Structuring diversity
o Diversity of types of connections
 Regular renewal of information and resources.
 Renew work spaces for specific events or new issues.
Applications used in Web 2.0
 Emphasis on the use of tools.
 Enterprise Social Software (Enterprise 2.0) is used in some research-based organisations.
 Provide for completely open (Wikepedia) as well as closed access wikis.
 Discussion forum linked from Wikis (option for those who prefers only to comment.
 Conversation link (Twitter) from Wiki (for those who prefers to engage in personal conversation).
 Link to Code of Conduct linked back to Wiki.
 Email and/or instant messaging must be included in the workspace.
 Enhances search facilities (e.g Wikipedia, all Google applications and Yahoo ).
 Social bookmarking (www.delicious.com).
 Sharing of presentations (www.slideshare.com).
 Standard-format geographical data.
Managing Contents of Web 2.0
 The right knowledge should reach the right people.
 Content should be placed in context of external "clouds" (e.g. peer-to-peer networks with collective ownership) or internal "clouds" (e.g. the organizational intranet with organizational ownership).
 To manage the challenge to protect information against vandalism and privacy intrusions, the focus should be on denying or restricting access.
 The traditional processes and use of applications to protect information and privacy should be there but is of lesser importance.
 The increasing unimportance of belonging to one community, with individuals creating own private workspaces, should be managed.
Ways to do quality control.
 Enforce style sheets.
 Establish moderation and evaluation procedures within community.
 History pages to record all past revisions.
 Possible to remove revisions by moderator.
 Regular social face-to-face sessions to build relationships, analyse and interpret contents.

Dries Velthuizen

Saturday, 4 April 2009

VKMA Knowledge Product Range

Knowledge Product Range § Production of value-added business intelligence by VKMA
§ Production of value-added business intelligence
§ Knowledge management related project alerts (Internet publishing)
§ Data-mining reports (Internet Publishing)
§ Interviews and dialogue reports
§ Text Book Publication
§ Action research and publication to influence policy
§ Applied Research to find innovative solutions
§ Management of action research projects in Africa
§ Management of and participation in knowledge centres as part of multi-cultural and trans-disciplinary knowledge production teams