16 June 2012 
Problems with Social Knowledge Management 

"Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management" 


  This is a review by Nicholas Newman of a book edited by David Gurteen entitled "Leading Issues in Social Knowledge Management", published by Academic Publishing Ltd 2012.

This book is a collection of 10 research papers edited by knowledge management consultant David Gurteen. It looks at different aspects of how knowledge management social tools are used in diverse situations, and debates the reasons behind the successes and failures of such technological and non-technological tools as facebook, knowledge cafes, twitter and Enterprise 2.0 etc., have had on capitalizing and retaining knowledge assets in the reality of the workplace, both public and private.

As David Gurteen says "You can't force people to use social tools" and "things never work out is you expect". Also, despite the efforts of many technologists and knowledge management consultants "No one solution fits all".

knowledgeNevertheless, this book is certainly impressive, especially reading about the enthusiastic efforts of knowledge management consultants to encourage businesses, universities, users and participants to use technological and non-technological social tools to advance organisations' ambitions.

In one paper, by Alexeis Garcia-Perez and Robert Ayers, an organisation has introduced a Wiki to promote communication and share knowledge. Unfortunately, despite members of the organisation being located on several geographically isolated sites, usage after the immediate launch proves disappointing. This is because researchers suggest due to doubts about the actual relevance of such technology in their work, the lack of understanding of the potential benefits and lack of time.

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question. In this research paper by Tim Wright, Stuart Watson and Daniela Castrataro, the results of a survey they have conducted amongst the Knowledge Management community reveals that tweeting is not popular. Of those questioned many feel its application is not relevant to their specific needs, which the editor of this book David Gurteen finds surprising. In fact, as an energy journalist I have come across similar doubts about tweeting benefits amongst fellow journalists and consultants. Part of the poor take up is explained about lack of knowledge of its potential benefits. However, many see its failure due to its constrained nature and the existence of better rival technologies for knowledge sharing, research and innovation.

In another research paper, the researchers Aboubakr Zade and Alan Durrant take a look at the introduction of a social tool known as in touch at Middlesex University School of Art and Education. Amongst its aims of this introduction of technology was to facilitate learning and communication between students and staff. However, usage proved to be disappointing, due in part to a lack of understanding by potential users and also the use of rival platforms by students. It became clear that the school needed to further improve the usability of its technological platform, if it was to achieve all its learning and pedagogical ambitions.

Conclusion

Overall, as an energy journalist, I found it interesting that some of the research confirmed doubts being commonly expressed by business journalists about the utility of many such social tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. It is not surprising, we are seeing the development of super specialised social tools to meet the specific needs of users like journalists, researchers and scientists so as potential users can see value in using such technology. However, this book should prove useful for anyone contemplating designing, developing and introducing social tools into the business or learning environment. 
 
Though one question remains - is this book more about the management of communication than mangement of knowledge.
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To purchase a copy

Contributors:

 Aurilla Aurelie Arntzen Bechina, Buskerud University College, Kongsberg, Norway; Robert Ayres, Cranfield University, Shrivenham, United Kingdom; Thomas Bebensee, Utrecht University, Department of Information and Computing Sciences The, Netherlands; Daniela Castrataro, Intellectual Assets Centre, Glasgow, UK; Marguerite Cronk, Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas, USA; Alan Durrant Middlesex University, London, UK; Alexeis Garcia‐Perez, Coventry University, UK; Remko Helms, Utrecht University, Department of Information and Computing Sciences The, Netherlands; Eli Hustad, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway; Minna Janhonen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Work and Society Team, Helsinki, Finland; Jan‐Erik Johanson, University of Helsinki, Department of Political and Economic Studies, Finland; Alwyn Lau, KDU College, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Vincent Ribiere, Bangkok University, Bangkok, Thailand; Marco Spruit, Utrecht University, Department of Information and Computing Sciences The, Netherlands; Mustafa Tuncay, Atatürk Teacher Training Academy, Nicosia, North Cyprus; Nazime Tuncay, Near East University, Nicosia, North Cyprus; Stuart Watson, Intellectual Assets Centre, Glasgow, UK; Tim Wright, Tescape, Glasgow, UK; Aboubakr Zade Middlesex University, London, UK Tel:44-(0)-118-972-4148

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