April 22, 2003
Transforming Information into Knowledge at the Portal
E-mail is where knowledge goes to die.

On a daily basis almost every knowledge-worker reads news and other sources of business content and then creates comments and observations that other business associates, colleagues, customers, and vendors consume. The usual and customary method for creating annotations and observations is by e-mail. I have nothing against e-mail - in fact - my philosophical perspective is that SMTP and e-mail processes represent valuable collaboration tools for enterprises that cannot be discarded, but may certainly be optimized. However, the place where e-mail content comes to rest is problematic - e-mail is where knowledge goes to die.

Portals (such as Metadot) are the primary delivery source of news feeds. Imagine a portal component that allows users to create annotations that tie one or more news or other information items together with annotation text. Further imagine that the annotations are stored in a knowledge channel that can then be consumed in many ways – such as in a weblog, a report, an e-mail, or as an RSS news feed item. In most companies annotations and observations are typically created in e-mail with some messagestaining links that point out to specific information objects relevant to the message. Aside from the message itself, the knowledge dies a slow death in the inbox of office workers and executives. Creating a process so that annotations and business observations may live as uniquely addressable information objects, clearly has greater advantages; especially for portal users.

Here's a scenario that might help organizations and teams transform information into reusable knowledge.

  1. The knowledge-worker uses a simple “annotate” button that has been integrated into news and other content feeds in Metadot.
  2. When a user selects an annotate button, MySmartChannels responds by displaying a dialog with entry fields for title, synopsis, etc. The user is free to enter observations and notes about the content item.
  3. The dialog automatically adds a link to the content that was selected to annotate. Multiple content items may be annotated under one channel item and multiple links are added dynamically to the open channel item dialog.
  4. Once the annotation is entered into a channel, it is available for consumption through many processes and knowledge-discovery tools. Additionally, the annotations are secure.

The benefits:

  • Complex annotations – users may browse and assimilate items from multiple reports to create a single annotation that connects all report end-points;
  • Annotation templates - templates provide advanced classification, consistency of annotation items, and greater annotation productivity;
  • Annotation viewing – annotations may be presented in Web pages, news feeds, portals, and other applications.
  • Expertise domains - annotations can be associated with other types of information objects;
  • Annotation syndication – annotation content may be used in a syndicated form through native RSS;
  • XML and RSS – flexible consumption support for all annotation content;
  • Publish-subscribe – integrated publish, sharing, and subscription services;
  • Microsoft Office – automatic linking to annotations from Microsoft Office XP documents.

In my humble opinion, this sounds like a more meaningful approach than e-mailing everything and everyone.

 Let me know how you feel...

--- bf