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Untitled Document William S. Beachley
Assignment 16
Due: 4/5/04

source: Smith, R. G. & Farquhar, A. (2000) "The Road Ahead for Knowledge Management ? An AI Perspective," AI Magazine, 21(4), pp. 17-40

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?
I thought that the idea that everyone in a company company is responsible for some part of knowledge management was interesting. The company intranet is like a highly advanced Swiki. I also have a friend who works on a rig in Alaska and I've had many discussions with him about how information is disseminated to the field since they can only really check their email about once a day and have no access to the company's intranet.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?
The main message of the article is that information management is critical to a company's success. People must be able to find the relevant information to any situation quickly which is where AI comes in. The right information needs to be retrieved and consolidated in one convenient place in real time. Clients also need to be provided with tools to make their decisions easier. These problems are addressed through portals, data mining, ontologies, XML and very fast filtering algorithms.

3. what are
3.1. the strengths / successes and
The strength of knowledge management is quick access to a large community's knowledge. The idea is that employees have access to expert advice and research that is "just a click away."
3.2. the weaknesses /failures
of knowledge management?
The weaknesses and failures of knowledge management is that it is not fast enough yet. The right information cannot always be retrieved in real time when it involves heavy data mining. Like the authors said, there is a race going on to be the first to optimize the AI technology for data retrieval. One example was that someone's profile might enable them to access a different version of the same document than someone else's profile. Knowledge management is just not "smart" enough yet.

4. what are you personal experiences with

4.1. knowledge management and
I have a lot of experience with databases and web services as well as experience with the Career Services web site. We allow anyone in Career Services to update the web site, but the site does get fairly outdated because people do not really take ownership of their pages. There are also not many technically savvy people at Career Services which hinders people from doing complex changes such as adding a navigation bar link. It is hard to believe that big companies with huge knowledge management systems are able to keep all their information up to date, especially if only one person, the knowledge champion, is responsible for seeing to this. In my experience, it seems to me that that would be quite a job.

4.2. knowledge management systems?
I do not have really any experience with large intranets as I haven't worked for any big companies yet. I do have experience with these systems as a client, though such as Sun Microsystem's web site and Dell's web site.

5. How would you differentiate between "pull" and "push" approaches in knowledge management? What are the trade-offs between the two approaches? In which situations would you use one or the other approach?
I would use a 'pull' approach during searches and retrievals and 'push' when an employee is in the middle of a real time interaction with a client. A system could maybe eavesdrop on a online chat with a client and 'push' relevant information.

6. please discuss why and how the two following quotes are (or are not) relevant for knowledge management:

6.1. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana)
From an implementation perspective, knowledge management has been around for a long time and each new system builds on old systems. Any new system that does not at least consider older systems is condemned to re-implement features that do not work. From a user perspective, the ability to document a company's history allow people to see at a glance what worked and what didn't. This ability allows people to come up with a company's "best practices" list.

6.2. "Innovation is everywhere; the difficulty is learning from it" (John Seeley Brown)
There are many new and wonderful advances in AI, database technology and whatever else, and it is very hard to filter what really works well from what does not since innovation is fundamentally new.

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