An article in Forbes (How to Be a Pack Rat) describes knowledge management research underway at Microsoft. As described in this article, I wonder if MS really understands KM. 

The article describes a research project called MyLifeBits, designed to store everything a user has ever created or viewed. Discussing the challenge of searching so much data, the article reports that

“The problem is twofold. First, you have to label it properly going in. Then you need to be able to search to find it at the other end–and quickly. Microsoft may have solved that problem with MyLifeBits software, still in development, which is letting users annotate their stored data with hyperlinks and voice notatations [sic], while automatically recording web pages, IM transcripts, radio and television. The software also makes it easier to sort and query the database. The key to archiving files is to tag and index files intelligently”

Anyone involved in KM understands the challenge of tagging and indexing files intelligently. UK law firms have invested substantial human resources in this process; US firms are focusing on automated solutions. It is clear that most users will not invest the time to tag and index documents. A random search of most any law firm’s document or file management system reveals numerous documents with cryptic titles, which shows that even when users MUST provide information, its value for finding and re-use may not be high.

A KM solution that presumes users will tag, index, or annotate items seems destined for failure. A couple of asides on this. First, the idea of voice notations seems counter-productive as there is no way to skim them quickly. And second, Apple’s new Tiger operating system, reported on extensively yesterday, received a rave review by Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal for its operating system level full-text search capability.