Category: Corporate Blogging

Thoughts on the use of blogs and wikis for Knowledge Management within a company.

Where are the “internal blog initiatives” case studies?

Yesterday was my first day at the KMWorld and Intranets 2005 Conference. I spent most of the day in the Collaboration track which, on this day, was focused heavily on blogs and wikis.

There were a couple of good nuggets in the presentations but I guess I was disappointed in the track overall. Or maybe what I was really disappointed in was the apparent lack of progress corporations have made incorporating internal blogs into overall Knowledge Management initiatives.

It is unfair of me to generalize that because there were no case studies from real corporations Corporate America must not be doing enough to leverage technologies like blogs, wikis, and RSS as a meaningful component of their KM program. And, there were a couple of examples given of companies, like IBM, that are doing this. But this is the KM World conference, is it not? If companies had compelling stories to tell around internal blogging initiatives where would they be presented if not here?

My company is a small services firm so our experience may not be transferrable to companies the size of our typical client. But, for what it is worth, here is an old post I wrote on why I think our internal blog initiative failed. At some point, I hope to correct these mistakes and take another run at it. Maybe by then many others will have shared their stories.

Timely reference to personal knowledge management tools

What a coincidence. Tom and I were just discussing his (never-ending) search for a better approach to personal knowledge management. We specifically talked about Personal Brain, which is a tool he tried a while back and abandoned, just like McGee
. Maybe one of the two tools McGee mentions in this post will get him closer to pKM nirvanna. (Neither are open source).

Tom has had some recent success with TiddlyWikki, which is a “reusable non-linear personal web notebook” that runs locally and requires no server.

Things I like about WordPress so far

So it has been just under a week since I moved everything over here from Radio. Here’s what I really like so far:

  • I don’t have to fire up my laptop to post. I can do it from any networked device.
  • I’ve got tons of space as opposed to the 40MB included with Radio.
  • The technology foundation is more intuitive. It’s LAMP-based so there are a lot of resources available. Radio Userland is based on Frontier which is not nearly as ubiquitous as LAMP.
  • Similar to the prior point, I love that it uses a relational back-end. I don’t have to re-publish pages when I change the look-and-feel. And the model is more like what I’m used to. Front-end web page talks to back-end database. Simple. I get it.
  • My aggregator is for aggregating and my blog tool is for blogging. The built-in RSS aggregator in Radio is okay, but I didn’t want to have to fire up Radio to check my feeds. Sometimes I’d use Sage, but, again, I’d have to fire up Radio if I came across something post-worthy. Now, I use Sage all of the time–I hit the bookmarklet to post and I’m there.

In my early days of Radio I thought it might be a good tool to roll out internally. That was before I had been exposed to the server-based blog tools. And, quite honestly, I think I was forgetting the lesson we’ve all already learned about distributing and maintaining client apps versus running them on a centrally-managed server infrastructure with a thin client.

I’ll grant that it is extremely easy to set up a public blog with Radio. I tweaked my config to publish to both a public site and an internal site and that was straightforward for a technical user. When I think about folks in our sales organization making those same tweaks and maybe wanting to customize their templates, I think about what Walter said to Smokey in The Big Lebowski, “You are entering a world of pain.”

I imagine Userland’s answer to this would be, “You are right. For a big intranet project you should use Manila, our server-based product.” Maybe so. But you’d still have to bone up on Frontier.

Anyway, I’m not trying to dog Radio here. I’m just excited about my choice to switch.

Finally…got it all migrated

Okay. I think everything is moved over from the old Radio Userland blog. The stories were the most painful due to a lapse in clear-thinking–at some point I started using MS Word to edit the stories prior to pasting them into Radio. So I had a bunch of Word-specific HTML to clean up. The posts imported smoothly.

Here’s a summary of what I did:

1. Moved images to gallery. This gave me an excuse to try out Gallery and gives me a decent way to manage the images I reference from stories and posts.

2. Moved stories by hand, cleaning up HTML and changing out IMG references to gallery. This would have been a decent job for a Perl script but I didn’t have that many to move. (While prowling around I found some old stories that Radio was no longer publishing for some reason. Thanks, Radio!).

3. Imported mySubscriptions.opml into blogroll.

4. Created categories to match old categories. As it turns out, this wasn’t necessary. The RSS importer creates categories for imported posts as it needs to.

5. Added rewrite rule to .htaccess to try to address any links in my posts:

RewriteRule ^/0117027/categories/xml/([0-9]{4})/(.*).html /newbloglocation/archives/$1/$2 [R=permanent]

6. Updated the UTC time offset in my WordPress options. (I just hadn’t had a chance to do it until now).

7. Edited /www/wp-admin/import-rss.php to tell it the name of the XML file to import.

8. Wrote an XSLT stylesheet to filter unwanted post categories. I was using Radio to post to my public blog as well as an internal server at Navigator. The XSL simply transformed the existing RSS into a “public” version without the internal categories. I used Perl to recursively cruise through the Radio backup posts directory structure and transform the XML.

9. Uploaded the transformed RSS files to the site and ran the import-rss.php script.

I’ve probably got more cleanup to do but at least it is all moved over.

Internal KM post on slashdot

This is an interesting thread on Slashdot. Someone asked about capturing, organizing, and sharing knowledge in an IT department and the majority of folks are responding with various wiki tools and open source portals. Although the question was directed at the needs of an IT department, the advice is probably applicable to any department in an enterprise, provided the UI of the chosen tool scores high in the usability department.

Knowledge Management for an IT Department?. Slashdot Sep 30 2005 8:25PM GMT [Moreover Technologies – Knowledge management news]

The key issues, as I’ve mentioned before are:

  • it has to be easy to contribute content
  • it has to be easy to find content (via search and possibly taxonomy browsing)
  • it has to be secure
  • it has to have all of the “-abilities” (eg, scalability, extensibility, usability, etc.).

Something like a combination of blogs, wikis, possibly a document repository, and a search engine for the whole thing ought to do the trick.

Blogs and wikis as KM infrastructure

This is worth a read. It has definite applicability to corporate use of wiki and blog technology. The key paragraph is

The Wiki and the Blog are complimentary companion technologies that together form the core workspace that will allow intelligence officers to share, innovate, adapt, respond, and be—on occasion—brilliant. Blogs will cite Wiki entries. The occasional brilliant blog comment will shape the Wiki. The Blog will be vibrant, and make many sea changes in real-time. The Wiki, as it matures, will serve as corporate knowledge and will not be as fickle as the Blog. The Wiki will be authoritative in nature, while the Blog will be highly agile. The Blog is personal and opinionated. The Wiki is agreed-upon and corporate.

Andrus goes on to add additional supporting components to the core of blogs and wikis which consists of search, feedback, and an underlying document repository.

The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community. Bill Ives finds a nice report on the use of new technology within the intelligence community…

The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community. Here is an article by Calvin Andrus of the CIA on how they can use blogs and wikis to help them change, The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community, which is not a bad idea. As… [Portals and KM]

[McGee’s Musings]

Note that the Stanford Law School link to the PDF does not require registration.

I definitely like the idea of using the repository as a sort of loosely organized collection point for raw knowledge. At Navigator we call this the “unstructured data warehouse”. It needs to be secure and I suppose it needs some amount of organization but the key is to make it easy for employees to contribute, easy to administer, and as open as possible.

Then, on top of that you add tools to glean intelligence from the warehouse (ie wikis) and a mechanism for expressing opinions about that separately (blogs). Index the whole shooting-match with a search engine and you’ve got something.

The final ingredient is incentive. You’ve got to make it beneficial for employees to leverage this infrastructure (and painful if they don’t!).

Internal blog and wiki survey

Gilbane Enterprise Blog Survey.

The Gilbane Report recently posted the results of their Survey on Enterprise blog, wiki, and RSS Use. While the survey sample is not representative of a larger population of companies (the survey was voluntary and Gilbane readers are probably ahead of the curve), the results are interesting. Of the 58 respondents (mostly from companies under $25MM in annual revenues but 10 from companies of over

By (Seth). [Enter Content Here]

The future of portals

“Technology” is one of the three converging forces. Under that heading, Charlie notes how blogs and CMS/Portals are converging.

Technology: the perfect storm for portals?. Charlie Wood has written a blog entry on the uncertain future of portals. To quote: The enterprise portal industry stands squarely in the path of three converging forces, any one of which could be devastating. Together, they might be fatal…. [Column Two]