Its seems we are in the middle of a boom market for Business Intelligence Management, or what ever term you want to apply to the gathering and use of Information and Knowledge for the support of business decision making. On one side we have a generation of investment in knowledge management tools, on the other side we have Web 2.0 based approaches, and that’s before we start on the detailed debate of what is structured and unstructured data etc. I want to explore this debate from a different direction, what is happening and working in two different areas.
Books that are spun out of Blogs are a relatively new phenomenon, and the process is defined as a ‘Blook’, and if you haven’t heard of it then its right there in WiKipedia! Put simply this is writing a book based on the content, and interactions, that have been generated by a Blog. The Blog establishes the interest in the topic and the interaction increases and refines the content till the popularity leads a publisher to say; ‘this could be a book’. The question that this raises is why do you need a book, why turn back from interesting and dynamic interaction to a frozen moment of time requiring conventional and costly distribution methods?
My answer to this is that we are still struggling with the divide between unstructured data created through interaction where the value lies in immediacy and structured data where the value lies in stability for use as a reference. Perhaps this is seen most clearly in the transition from a Blog to a Book in ‘The Doorbells of Florence’ now listed for a ‘Blooker’ prize.
A similar sort of progression is also present at http://zero.newassignment.net/ – where the term is ‘Crowd Sourcing’, the ability to bring together professional writers and editors with amateur citizen reporters to create an ‘open news room’. In this case Wikipedia, for once, seems to be behind the curve as its definition of Crowd Sourcing is related to the design of Open Source software around the development of features through identifying ‘crowd pleasers’.
Actually I think the basic definition is right and it’s the impact of coupling these two things together that is interesting to me in the whole complex business of defining ‘business intelligence’, ‘information management’ and the multiplicity of terms that seem to be emerging. What is common to both of the above is that the unstructured interaction stage comes first, and from this the structured transaction stage is defined by the level of interest. This is a total reversal from conventional approaches where the knowledge is gathered first and structured to be made available to support the unstructured interactions.
As with an increasing number of areas the challenge is to really make a conscious effort to re think and redesign our approach to key business elements. In this case it’s the difference between Amazon to Barnes and Noble on their respective web sites for books; Amazon tells you what others choose to buy; Barnes and Noble tell you what they would like to sell to you.