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Knowledge Management and Social Tagging and Bookmarking

Lawyers seldom actively contribute know-how to knowledge management systems so KM professionals increasingly turn to alternatives. One interesting approach relies on user self-interest to create KM value by inference. 

Almost everyone knows what it means to bookmark a web page. Originally, bookmarks were private, for the convenience of the user to find the same web page again.

Part of the “Web 2.0″ revolution is “social bookmarking or tagging.” In brief, if enough users tag a page as relating to a topic, search engines can better find and rank that page. For example, if every reader of this blog tags it with “KM” using a service such as del.ico.us, this blog would rank higher in search results than other KM resources with fewer such tags. The premise is that self-interest drives users to tag content and that collectively the tags serve as “votes” on the value of the page.

To the extent that social tagging adds value on the web (an open issue I think), can it do so within a single enterprise? Crowd Control (eWeek, 8/13/07) is a must-read article for anyone interested in the enterprise potential of social tagging for KM. It reviews enterprise tagging products but also has excellent analysis and commentary; some highlights include:

  • “Pundits for new, enterprise-oriented social bookmarking and tagging systems claim they can provide what knowledge management systems haven’t: easy and secure storage, retrieval, and sharing of valuable documentation within an organization and around the Internet.”
  • “While [corporate created] taxonomies might have been static at times, at least they provided consistency…. Nevertheless, IT cannot ignore the emerging area of enterprise social bookmarking.”
  • “Of course, user buy-in is critical to successful deployment of these systems. Reaching such a critical mass among the Internet’s millions of users is difficult, but doing so on a closed intranet is an even bigger challenge.”
  1. Chuck Pendell

    At Connectbeam, our customers are making the decision to install our Social Networking and Bookmarking appliances because their users are using products such as del.icio.us and storing internal, confidential items in the public cloud. For legal, this is even a much more serious situation. Ethical wall issues, privacy, etc. define a successful law firm. Though we don’t yet have any law firms as clients, other customers like Honeywell are achieving a high level of user acceptance and success.