Friday, December 29, 2006

Blog? This ain't no blog!

Incredible--over two months since I last posted to this. Were it not for a few kind souls who added some comments, this blog would be as dead as morse code (it's true; I understand even the Boy Scouts have given up on offering a morse code merit badge these days). So what is this thing good for?

That's what I intend to research to find out. My personal research agenda from now on will be about the "next generation" of professionals. That is, what are the "young" professionals of today--those of you who know what Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, and texting are all about--doing about knowledge sharing? How do they do it? Why do they do it? What makes them do it? My hypothesis is that their rationale for knowledge sharing (read: KM) is or will be, radically different than that of previous generations of professionals.

Why do I think that? Well, let's look at the easy part of this hypothesis: the technology enablement that didn't exist before recently. Let's start with the phone. Sure, the phone's been around for quite a while, but now it's personal. While I'm not quite old enough to remember when you had to ring up a live operator to connect a call (I did see how that works in the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" though), I am old enough to remember that we had a "party line" (for you younger ones, it's not anything like what the name implies) and a phone number that went something like CHerry 1-1234.

So what's the big deal? We've always had an ability to connect to others through the phone--even in far away places. The big deal is accessibility. I liken this to stored knowledge in a public library. Now I grew up with public libraries, and I still love them but, they're not always convenient. Today's young professionals probably wouldn't step into a library unless they had to get out of the rain. Now that's not a criticism--it's just a feeling that today's professionals have grown up with knowledge accessibility through the internet--not through scouring dusty bookshelves.

Like libraries v. internet, so is the phone of the past and today's mobile phone service. As recently as a decade ago, cell phone service was a new thing. My first cell phone was permanently mounted to the floor of my car, with a little pigtail looking antenna glued to the back window (that's how you determined in the old days who was up with technology). I paid $30 a month for 20 minutes of service--and I thought that was a good deal! With cell technology however, came the beginnings of accessibility.

It also meant that a proliferation of accessibility was beginning to emerge. I took an inventory once. For me, my son, and my daughter, we once had 8 different phone numbers at which we could be reached if necessary: cell, home, work, fax, school, etc. Accessibility was possible then, but not convenient. Interestingly enough (to me at least), having more ways to reach people isn't nearly as good as reaching them in one consistent way--all the time. That's what I'm talking about regarding today's young professionals. They need only their mobile numbers. Many don't even have a "land line" at home (I wonder when that term will become nothing more than a trivia question).

So now, young professionals can reach anyone anywhere, anytime, 24/7. And because they've grown up with that paradigm, they might just do that (is there any etiquette about not calling after a certain hour of the evening anymore?). This, dare I say--convergence--of accessibility is what is different from the past. I haven't even mentioned texting, or presence indication yet--that's for a later post.

For me then, the bottom line of this accessibility is, how will organizations create, share, qualify, and retain their institutional knowledge in the future given the habits and preferences of the newer generations of professionals? They're here, and they're coming to replace us dinosaurs of previous generations. How will we work with them today given our own habits and preferences? And what will that mean to our organizations in total?

If I can get my head back into this blogging thing soon (right now it hurts from all this thinking), I'll ruminate on blogs, wikis, VoIP, presence indication, texting, IM, social networking sites, and other technologies that make it both easier to access knowledge as well as provide a dizzying number of sources of knowledge.

Happy New Year to you!