of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  Vol. 28, No. 6    August / September 2002


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Special Section

Knowledge Management

by Beverly Colby, Mary J. Durham and Kris Liberman, guest editors

Beverly Colby is with Battery Ventures and can be reached by mail at 20 William St., Suite 200, Wellesley, MA 02481; by phone at 781-577-1000; or e-mail at bevercol@yahoo.com . Mary J. Durham can be reached at 210 Mill St., Groton, MA 01450; 978-448-0072; mjd@bicnet.net. Kris Liberman is at 176 Durnell Ave., Roslindale, MA 02131; 617-325-5967; k.liberman@verizon.net

Welcome to this special edition of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology on knowledge management and collaboration. We bring it to you in hopes of whetting your appetites for the Knowledge Management Summit that ASIST is sponsoring in November as a one-day pre-conference to the Annual Meeting.

In the past, every knowledge management forum, seminar and conference started off by trying to define the field of knowledge management, but that definition continues to be elusive, growing and changing as the tools change, the economy changes, the work environment and job landscape change, and as other disciplines join knowledge management. Some are saying the field is dead; others find it more vibrant than ever. We think it's the latter.

The term knowledge management may not be the hot buzzword it once was but the work of capturing explicit knowledge, adding value to it and disseminating it to users continues both in traditional and non-traditional ways. For example, collaboration techniques and technologies have become ubiquitous. Your team probably has a taxonomist on it. Your job description may direct you to contribute to the organization's knowledge base. These are strong indicators that knowledge management has moved so far into our workspaces that we have reached the stage of simply assuming its presence. Jo Cates, in an article on the KM job search in the Spring 2002 SLA BF Bulletin, lists job titles as diverse as Knowledge Acquisition Technologist, Knowledge Solutions Director, Knowledge Management Technical Architect and Knowledge Management Engineer to show that knowledge management may have changed its name but hasn't gone away.

Patti Anklam, in her article in this issue, talks about how the ideas and language of knowledge management "resonated" with a number of people in traditional functional roles: librarians, technical writers, database administrators, project managers and coordinators, trainers and learning specialists, and organizational effectiveness facilitators. She discusses the movement beyond the initial stage of knowledge management that work of capturing and codifying explicit knowledge and how a new stage seeks to capture and codify tacit knowledge. And with this new stage the relationships between people and a way to capture those relationships become even more important. She extensively illustrates the use of social network analysis for this purpose.

Diane Sonnenwald and her associates have contributed an article on scientific collaboratories from their work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We don't believe that Diane uses the phrase knowledge management anywhere in her article, but the collaborative work she describes certainly speaks to the capture of tacit knowledge and the ways we collaborate with colleagues, both face-to-face and remotely.

Our third article is by Abhijit Rao from the Manipal Institute of Technology in India. He describes a more traditional knowledge management project but in a non-traditional setting, moving the process of knowledge management to academia from the corporate world.

Knowledge management is hard to pin down these days, moving as it is into information technology, artificial intelligence, storytelling, and on and on, and we have presented only three sides of its complex nature in this issue of the Bulletin. We hope to see you all at the ASIST Knowledge Management Summit planned for November 15 and 16, 2002, immediately before the ASIST Annual Meeting. The Summit will have a decidedly practical flavor and will offer you on-the-ground examples of knowledge management in place. It will kick off with an evening reception on November 15 and will continue with a very full day of excellent speakers on the 16th, including both Patti Anklam and Diane Sonnewald. See www.asis.org for more information. And thank you for letting us give you a taste of the depth and breadth of knowledge management.

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