Making sense of weblogs in the intranet

What they are, why people are using them, making them useful for knowledge management
Usability Professionals Association 16 September 2003

Michael Angeles michael@studioid.com http://studioid.com

Disclaimer

What this is
A discussion about weblogging for knowledge management within corporations A discussion of my organization’s role -- how we view ourselves in terms of providing weblogging support A look at our long view -- how we’re planning to support webloggers

A history of web publishing in my intranet
Before we get into the nitty gritty of weblogs ... a very brief and incomplete history of Lucent intranet web publishing How web publishing has evolved Who’s needs are being met by web-based publishing Let’s start with a timeline

First there was the command line
Technologies

Internet protocols (Archie, FTP, telnet)

NCSA Mosaic (11/ 1993)

Company Milestones IIS Milestones LINUS (Clientserver)

Pre-web

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Web browser timeline: http://www.blooberry.com/indexdot/history/browsers.htm

Then came pictures
Technologies

Internet protocols (Archie, FTP, telnet)

NCSA Mosaic (11/ 1993)

Netscape Navigator 1 (12/1994)

Company Milestones

Simple sites proliferate; Hand editted and FTPed; Front Page webmasters (1995-96)

IIS Milestones

LINUS (Client-server)

InfoView Digital Library (1994-1995)

ISG created; produces customized db-driven BU intranet sites (7/96)

Pre-web

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Then useful data competed for screen space
Technologies

Internet protocols (Archie, FTP, telnet)

NCSA Mosaic (11/ 1993)

Netscape Navigator 1 (12/1994)

Company Milestones

Simple sites proliferate; Hand editted and FTPed; Front Page webmasters (1995-96)

ONSource, first BU portal (1/1999)

IIS Milestones

LINUS (Client-server)

InfoView Digital Library (1994-1995)

ISG created; produces customized db-driven BU intranet sites (7/96)

IIS ISG indexing supports BU process portals with introduced indexed (1998) content (1999) Business taxonomy development (1998) 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

Pre-web

1994

1995

1996

1997

The bubble bursts and standards are born
Technologies

Internet protocols (Archie, FTP, telnet)

NCSA Mosaic (11/ 1993)

Netscape Navigator 1 (12/1994)

Company Milestones

Simple sites proliferate; Hand editted and FTPed; Front Page webmasters (1995-96)

ONSource, first BU portal (1/1999)

Portals close; subdomains removed Migration to MyLucent begins (2000-2001)

MyLucent, Company portal (7/2001)

IIS Milestones

LINUS (Client-server)

InfoView Digital Library (1994-1995)

ISG created; produces customized db-driven BU intranet sites (7/96)

IIS indexing process introduced (1998) Business taxonomy development (1998) 1998

ISG supports BU portals with indexed content (1999)

ISG ceases to produce custom sites (2000)

Pre-web

1994

1995

1996

1997

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Then the bottom really falls out
Technologies

Internet protocols (Archie, FTP, telnet)

NCSA Mosaic (11/ 1993)

Netscape Navigator 1 (12/1994)

Company Milestones

Simple sites proliferate; Hand editted and FTPed; Front Page webmasters (1995-96)

ONSource, first BU portal (1/1999)

Portals close; subdomains removed Migration to MyLucent begins (2000-2001)

MyLucent, Company portal (7/2001)

Much of CIO supporting MyLucent is laid off (2003)

IIS Milestones

LINUS (Client-server)

InfoView Digital Library (1994-1995)

ISG created; produces customized db-driven BU intranet sites (7/96)

IIS indexing process introduced (1998) Business taxonomy development (1998) 1998

ISG supports BU portals with indexed content (1999)

ISG ceases to produce custom sites (2000)

Pre-web

1994

1995

1996

1997

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

And everything old is new again
Technologies

Internet protocols (Archie, FTP, telnet)

NCSA Mosaic (11/ 1993)

Netscape Navigator 1 (12/1994)

Company Milestones

Simple sites proliferate; Hand editted and FTPed; Front Page webmasters (1995-96)

ONSource, first BU portal (1/1999)

Portals close; subdomains removed Migration to MyLucent begins (2000-2001)

MyLucent, Company portal (7/2001)

Much of CIO supporting MyLucent is laid off (2003)

IIS Milestones

LINUS (Client-server)

InfoView Digital Library (1994-1995)

ISG created; produces customized db-driven BU intranet sites (7/96)

IIS indexing process introduced (1998) Business taxonomy development (1998) 1998

ISG supports BU portals with indexed content (1999)

ISG ceases to produce custom sites (2000)

We are here
Blogs appear; Blog-related services (2002)

Pre-web

1994

1995

1996

1997

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

Really seems like web-publishing chaos

There’s a story to be told in that diversity/chaos
Our intranet story can best be explained in terms of people Diverse set set of user types Diverse set of needs Diverse set of technologies used to meet these needs

Who’s who in intranet web-publishing
Knowledge workers
Researchers, engineers, sales force

Communities of Practice (CoPs)
Communities organized around projects, products or topics (e.g. Mobility)

Chief Information Organization (CIO)
Enterprise Information Technology people

Executives
Officers, upper managers

Researchers, engineers, sales force

Knowledge worker

Groups organized around specific topics or projects

Community of practice

CIO directors and managers

CIO manager

Executive officers, vice presidents and upper management

Executive

"I need to capture and distribute information about companies and contracts I'm working with. Email and the telephone is usually the fastest way to do this, but I want to spread this information throughout the company."
Background Knowledge workers are closes to our products. Depending on their role and Business Unit, typical kowledge workers might do research related to products or prepare contracts for customers. One common need is to document and communicate knowledge within their department. Goals Create and share personal or project-related knowledge. Tools HTML editors (Front page, HomeSite, vi) and FTP, Weblog applications (Radio Userland, Movable Type), Email

"We increase our personal and group intelligence through collaboration and knowledgeshare."

"I satisfy my user demands using our standard toolbox of technologies. CIO works hard to establish the solutions that deliver the most bang for the buck"
Background The CIO organization is interested in establishing technical standards within the company. They are looking for ways to efficiently meet information systems needs in a manner that reflects the budget and resources of the company. Goals Meet user needs with standardized processes and information technologies. Tools Enterprise portals, document management systems

"In this tight, competitive economy, we have to operate at world-class levels, but we have to be lean and cut costs where we can.

Background Communities of practice are formed around topics, product lines, technologies, customers. CoPs are typically interested in collaboration and knowledge-share at a group level. Goals Increase awareness and knowledge on topic of interest to CoP for group or personal gain. Tools Document management systems, Groupware, BBS, Wiki, Email discussion groups

Background Upper management is focussed on keeping the company profitable. One of the popular ways to do this is to control costs. Management is looking to reduce duplication and leverage resources in order to cut back on unnecessary costs. Goals Lead organization to profitability.

Diversity is a good thing
Nardi & O'Day on information ecology
A system of people, practices, values, and technologies at work in a local environment. A healthy ecology is one that is dynamic (changing/evolving), diverse (made up of different types of people and technologies) and that allows for a diverse set of people and technologies to work in a complementary way.

The new knowledge management
Deloitte: bridging the gaps between people and systems depends on first creating the conditions that allow people to participate in KM locally rather than enforcing technology-based KM policies. These local activities are bridged in Knowledge Network systems Forrester: organizations have begun to move away from single-solution KM packages

Analysis of Lucent information ecology Diversity remains the only constant Our information ecology is diverse Our needs are diverse Our web publishing toolbox is diverse

Our web publishing tools
Database driven publishing -- CMS and document management Home grown and low-cost server-based publishing tools Desktop personal publishing tools Groupware applications

What do we do with this diversity? Maybe these diverse needs and approaches should be accepted The goal should be to work with this diverse set of user needs and technologies To find some way to glue the data together to make it usable

Enter the weblog
Let's step back a bit and talk about weblogs. They're the new up and comers in web publishing on the intranet. Weblogs are growing in popularity and there are lot of inexpensive weblog tools to choose from today.

A quick look at what weblogs are
A web site (usu. of personal/non-commercial origin) that is frequently updated with information and links to resources within a particular subject area. The published information is presented much like a journal on the web in reverse chronological order. In 1999 Peter Merholz coins the term "Blog". Rebecca Blood. “weblogs: a history and perspective”. Rebecca’s pocket. Essay discussing the emergence of weblogs. http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/ weblog_history.html

What do people blog? Personal opinion Industry & topic specific information & opinion Very often meta discussion / revolve around specific web page content (URL) -- discussion about something some else has written about

Blogging also means sharing
Weblogs allow you to publish a news feed A news feed can be a data file listing recent entries from a weblog Or a data file listing recent news headlines from a commercial source. Blog feed formats are in XML format (specifically RSS or RDF) Look for these buttons:

Reading blogs in a news aggregator
Aside from being tools to publish and share, weblogs often offer a mechanism for reading other weblog data in XML feeds News readers / aggregators An application that retrieves and displays news feeds from multiple sources. Client application -- runs on PC for individual use. Server application – runs on a web server for group use.

Creating and publishing a blog entry
Usually HTML form based interface for creating each blog entry Really entering a simple database record Enter title Body of text Category (optional) Author (auto-entered) Date (auto-entered)

Blogging variations
Variations of the process -- URL based blogging Since a lot of the time blog entries contain meta-discussion, the starting point is a pointer to an article someone else has written Blog from an aggregator Blog from a bookmarklet Let’s see how it works...

Movable Type
1. Enter title

2. Enter body of blog entry

3. Select category 4. Publish

Click here to read comments

Enter the k-log
Sounds good, but why use them inside the intranet? In the current economy, some individuals are breaking away from traditional KM to do KM on a Budget. Low cost weblog tools are available to help with 2 core concerns of KM. Knowledge creation (publishing) Knowledge sharing (XML feed aggregators)

K-logging is about knowledge share
Bloggers are often subject area experts “Free-loading” on these experts helps grow the knowledge of individuals and the organization There’s advantage in belonging to a social network formed around research interests

Fast, cheap and in total control
Fast (and easy): Set up is quick and doesn't require much expertise. Cheap: Powerful personal publishing solutions at low cost. In total control: The real power in weblogging is that it puts knowledge creation in your control and also allows you a standards-based mechanism for pushing/sharing that information.

How we are supporting k-loggers
XML feeds of databases News data ABI/Inform Technical documents Almost any data set can be mapped to the standard RSS format Email discussion groups, CRM, directory of new personnel

What our users do with the RSS

Adding the URL for the RSS feed to your news aggregator.

In news aggregator view, user sees a story they want to blog

Selecting the POST button copies that story's URL and title to a new blog entry in the editing form.

So where do we go from here? Keep close watch of weblogs in the enterprise As weblogs profilerate, work on strategy for making blog data usable Talk to the bloggers who might benefit from sharing and finding

Consider your place in the ecology
The natural progression in an information ecology where k-loggers start to proliferate is to seek a system that pulls together the disparate k-log data. The role of the information services organization is to glue together the aggregate of produced k-log data for its users to consume.

Collecting blog data
How do we do that? Use metadata to create rich bibliographic records of each entry (author, publisher, date, etc.) Included in the process of recording metadata is to help people make sense of that data by classifying it -- by topic/subject.

Making blog data findable
Make the aggregate of collected blog entries available by publishing it Make searching and browsing of indexed blog entries possible Our organization already does a lot of the text parsing, classification and republishing that is needed to make a Blog aggregator fly Offer varying means of use and notification when new relevant data comes in. Email alerts, etc.

Our process
Start: Raw feed from various sources (vendor data, internal databases, weblogs) Data from external feeds are loaded into server Human indexers review auto-classification and correct or add index terms

Machine algorithms do some clustering and auto-classification using subject taxonomy

Classified data is stored

Finish: Classified data is served through web server requests

One way you could do it
The brute force method Use an aggregator (e.g. Radio or Drupal) Get humans to blog and classify the blogs

Web-based aggregator (brute-force) example

Web-based aggregator (brute-force) example

Other ways you can do it
Just use search software with automated classification Consider our hybrid approach

Success
It’s important to note that the success of KM depends on the willingness of individuals to participate by using tools that will integrate seamlessly with the organization’s knowledge network. Deloitte suggests that while localized KM efforts may not require knowledge networks in small organizations, the advantage of knowledge networks becomes manifest when communities express the need to re-use that localized knowledge.

Sustainability
Another important factor is sustainability If you plan on doing automated classification of data human resources will be needed at some point to set up taxonomies If you plan on a hybrid machine and human aided indexing process, full time staff might be needed

Closing thoughts
Weblogs are really not different as a technology, although they put control of publishing closer to users Classifying weblog data can be difficult and requires human resources, but some search applications can help Value diversity and above all, support users’ needs Allow users to produce organizational knowledge using whatever tools they choose

Further reading on info. ecology and KM
Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O’Day. “Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart.” First Monday. http:// www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_5/nardi_contents.html Robin Athey. “Collaborative Knowledge Networks: Driving Workforce Performance Through Web-enabled Communities”. Deloitte Consulting. http://www.dc.com/ Insights/research/cross_ind/ckn_workforce.asp Joshua Walker. “The New Knowledge Management Landscape”. Forrester Research. http:// www.forrester.com/ER/Research/Brief/Excerpt/ 0,1317,15338,00.html

Further reading about k-logs
John Foley. "Are You Blogging Yet?" InfoWorld. Discusses the value of using weblogs in the enterprise. http:// www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20020719S0001 David Weinberger. “The 99 cent KM solution”. KM World. http:// www.kmworld.com/publications/magazine/ index.cfm?action=readarticle&Article_ID=1337&Publication_ID=76 John Robb. “A simple approach to KM”. K-Logs discussion group. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/klogs/message/313 K-Logs discussion group. Email discussion group that discussions klogging for KM. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/klogs A Klog Apart. Phil Wolff's klog about klogging. http:// www.dijest.com/aka/

Where to get software
Weblog software “Weblog publishers.” Open Directory Project. http://dmoz.org/ Computers/Internet/On_the_Web/Weblogs/Tools/Publishers/ RSS news reader client software “News Readers.” Open Directory Project. http://dmoz.org/Reference/ Libraries/Library_and_Information_Science/Technical_Services/ Cataloguing/Metadata/RDF/Applications/RSS/News_Readers/ Server-based news aggregator software AmphetaDesk http://www.disobey.com/amphetadesk/ blagg. http://www.oreillynet.com/~rael/lang/perl/blagg/ Drupal. http://drupal.org Radio Userland. http://radio.userland.com/multiAuthorWeblogTool

Thank you :: The end

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