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Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, December 30, 2005
  Why we blog: Encourage re-use of our intellectual assets
Why we blog: encourage re-use of our intellectual assets

One of my pet ideas is to use blogs for personal knowledge management (pkm). An argument is that knowledge workers do not like to submit their work to a centralized system because they lose control and accessibility – the codification approach (Desouza, 2003). My argument was that blogs are inherently personal while still allowing for search, sharing, and re-use (supporting the personalization approach, also from (Desouza, 2003).

Another reason that these centralized databases frequently aren’t used is that context is stripped from the artifact, so it becomes a disconnected document.(Desouza & Awazu, 2004). The metadata should capture some of this context and there should be a methodology section in every report (although goodness knows few librarians explicitly write out their search strategies on their research reports… more to come on this) – nevertheless, there’s no history there. Besides, all of this front-end work is expensive and discouraging (mention of this in discussions of finding vs. refinding and re-finding as use). Blogs tend to provide this context in terms of history, linking, and narrative.

If we want to become an expert or if we have a really good idea that we want to see used (not always the case as mentioned in (Desouza, 2003)), how do we publicize it? If we just enter it into a centralized system, it will get lost. Basically, we have to advocate for the idea. We have to make ourselves available for questions so that we can be known as experts. Also, we have to provide a record of work or a history so that we will be found and trusted. A directory isn’t enough, a resume is better, a knowledge map better still, but wouldn’t a blog be best?

Desouza studies software engineers. It could be that Open Source Software communities like SourceForge capture enough of the process that blogs would be redundant. SourceForge also explicitly enables reuse of code pieces and provides a wiki-like history of the software, documentation, a narrative of the development process, etc. So, a community like SourceForge, when seen as a whole can probably solve a lot of these questions. In fact, it might be better to offer this set of tools, but it’s also a lot more time consuming on both ends. For the non-programmer knowledge worker, a blog might be the best first step.

Incidentally, Jon Udell is looking for comments on his book idea to explore using professional blogs as combination CV and autobiography. Mine is kind of going that way with the exception that I do try to keep a lot of more personal, motivational, posts out of the blog. I think these things would be necessary in an autobiography. I’d really like to see everyone who publishes self-archive their work using their blogs as pointers/indexes. Talk about context (. That would allow for re-use of our intellectual assets(Davenport, Thomas, & Desouza, 2003).

References
Davenport, T. H., Thomas, R. J., & Desouza, K. C. (2003). Reusing intellectual assets. Industrial Management, 45(3), 12.
Desouza, K. C. (2003). Barriers to effective use of knowledge management systems in software engineering. Communications of the ACM, 46(1), 99-101.
Desouza, K. C., & Awazu, Y. (2004). How to put context in the knowledge base. KM Review, 7(2), 8-9.

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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