Just finished a session on cultural change and social networks at the Ark Knowledge Management conference in Chicago. 

A few interesting points:
– Technology has caused the collapse of more traditional in-person social connections and mentoring.
– KM has emerged as a substitute for the sharing that used to happen naturally.
– A few firms are trying to design physical spaces (e.g., library – cafe combos) that encourage old-fashioned in-person interaction.
– Sharing may occur as readily across firms as within firms at the associate level. (Many raised eyebrows at this; one participant countered “how much original work is really done anyway?”)
– Examples of Linkedin, FaceBook, and MySpace for business uses cited: recruiting and biz dev but not much for substantive work.
– One firm uses IM and has determined associates really use it for collaboration and know-how sharing.
– Some: It’s not realistic for KM to drive cultural changes in large law firms. Others: You have to ride existing trends / opportunities and steer those trends.