Blogging moves into knowledge
OCTOBER 29, 2002
THE next wave of weblogs, or blogs as the sites are known, may very well be for knowledge management, or k-logs.
Weblogs are easy-to-use websites on which bloggers post entries on any topic.
A k-log tool leverages a company’s intranet and deals with information that is specific to the company that sponsors it.
John Robb, president and chief operating officer at UserLand, says he sees a future in which corporations use blogging tools as a platform for collaboration among colleagues.
Userland makes two products: Manila, a centralised server-based content management system, and Radio UserLand, which provides easy weblogging from the desktop.
Radio UserLand is a weblog tool that automatically builds a site, organises and archives posts and publishes content. It requires no knowledge of HTML, FTP or graphic design.
Robb foresees the use of weblogs in a business context as a bottom-up knowledge management tool.
“The popular name for this is k-logs,” he says. “The basic organisational structure of weblogs, which are time-stamped and archived, provides a record of what people are doing.”
According to Robb, k-logs represent the next generation in personal publishing.
In the 1980s it was desktop publishing to a printer using Word or WordPerfect. Today, it is Radio UserLand, which allows publication of a complete, fully featured site using a browser from the desktop.
In addition to publishing a weblog, k-log tools allow users to publish pictures, documents and links to resources and other documents to an intranet, where it can be archived, searched and browsed.
“The result is a low-cost knowledge sharing network based on internet standards,” Robb says. “I expect there will be 10 large organisations (10,000-30,000 seats) that will have active k-log systems with corporate mandate and thousands of other companies with below-the-radar or trial efforts in place.”
UserLand has more than 2600 customers, including almost all major universities, from Caltech to Vienna, and many large corporations, from DuPont to Bristol Myers.
According to Robb, benefits of using k-logs in the enterprise include better documentation of processes, shorter audit cycles and an archive of contributions.
“A team could easily ramp up a new team member or new employee by saying: ‘Read our k-logs—all the documents, thinking, important emails and discussions are there’,” he says.
But Robb says this is a long-term play. This year the University of California Berkeley is even offering a class, called Blogs, on weblogs as a new journalistic form.
As part of the course, students will produce a weblog that explores intellectual property issues such as copyright on the internet.
Members of the traditional media, which include Dan Gillmor, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and Andrew Sullivan, a writer for the New Republic and other publications, already write weblogs for their companies’ sites.