David Weinberger
KMWorld Archive

This is an archive of David Weinberger's columns for KMWorld. You'll find many more of David's columns and other writings here.

 

2020
Data is never just data  July 7, 2020

As with all tools, data has uses because of complex contexts that include other objects, physics, social norms, social institutions, and human intentions.

Links then and now  July 7, 2020

Broken links used to be like potholes. Now there are entire neighborhoods that are gone.

Approximately causal   January 3, 2020

Science will not give up on hypotheses. But it already is becoming more willing to accept results based on the sorts of statistical analyses performed by machine learning. And it may be thatwhen science does rely on theories and laws, we will recognize that no matter how ironclad they are as generalizations, their application to a world of confetti will always and necessarily render them approximate and probabilistic.

250 Columns later  March 20, 2020

Knowledge management has indeed become a multi-threaded discipline, embracing just about everything related to knowledge.

The challenge of emergence  January 3, 2020

Traditionally, we humans have succeeded at building complex structures by breaking plans down into a multitude of simple, predictable, knowable causes and effects.

2019
Perspective on Knowledge: Journalism's new landscape November 01 2019

I don’t know how to save the news media. I don’t know what will happen to this industry. I don’t have a prediction about what news will be 5 years from now or even 5 minutes from now. But news media organizations seem unlikely to survive if they continue to operate under assumptions that they have inherited from our previous ideas about ideas, information, and knowledge which were informed by the strengths and limitations of paper.

Bring back blogging September 06 2019

I have decided that once every 15 years, I will lift my old-man fists to the sky and yell at a cloud (not The Cloud) that it’s time to bring back blogging.

Behind the scenes of Everyday Chaos July 08 2019

In this column over the years I’ve talked about many, if not most, of the ideas in my book, Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility, simply because that’s what I was thinking about during the 6 years I spent writing it. Now the book is out—a fact, not a plug, but a fact I sneakily hope might serve as a plug—so let me take you behind the scenes.

Rewriting the world May 08 2019

Great fiction and poetry almost always observe the particular in ways that reveal something beyond the particular. It matters that the doubloon that Captain Ahab nailed to the mast of a ship stinking of whale oil and death “was of purest, virgin gold, raked somewhere out of the heart of gorgeous hills, whence, east and west, over golden sands, the head-waters of many a Pactolus flows.” Hamlet’s telling us that Yorick was not just a merry jester but that “he hath borne me on his back a thousand times” gives us a vivid picture of their relationship. If when we first met Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice she “had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down” not for two dances but for one or three, she might have seemed full of herself or desperate.

Tools, senses, and machine learning March 11 2019

In 1967, Marshall McLuhan said: “We shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us.” Except that it wasn’t really McLuhan who said it. It was his friend Father John Culkin, a professor of communication at Fordham University. The misattribution is easy to make because it fits so well with McLuhan’s idea that tools (media, technology) are extensions of ourselves. His go-to example was a blind person’s cane that is an extension of the person’s sense of touch.

2018
Without a doubt December 28 2018

Tomorrow there’s a 25% chance of rain.

The latest poll shows Smith at 52% and Jones at 48%, with a 3.6 point margin of error.

When knowledge isn't enough October 31 2018

We invented the concept of “knowledge” to do a job. We wanted a way to pluck out of the swirling mass of our beliefs the ones that are reliable enough to risk acting on.

Computers, Internet, AI September 10 2018

We are living through three major technology waves, each with its own ways of shaping our behavior and ideas. All three are occurring within the span of one lifetime. We have never before lived through such a whiplash of tech-based change, much less three based on the same technology.

Signs, causes and machine learning July 02 2018

When a culture looks at bird entrails to predict the fate of a king, we laugh: Bird guts have no causal relation with the king’s life. But these cultures are not looking for causal relationships. For them, and for much of our own culture’s history, the universe is not a clockwork of causes but a web of meaning.

The good, the bad, the networked May 01 2018

If there were a newspaper that covered nothing but the Internet, its headline every day would be “This Just In: The Internet Stinks.”

Knowledge is a tool March 08 2018

I didn’t intend to, but I’ve become a pragmatist. Unfortunately, not in the sense of being tethered to reality, but in the philosophical sense in which knowledge is not a body of true statements but is a tool we use to get things done.

The search for explanations January 22 2018

That our predictions and explanations are so different tells us something about how we think the future works.

2017
Local values of a global net October 30 2017

Ramesh Srinivasan reminds us that there’s something wrong with Marshall McLuhan’s idea that technology is creating a “global village,” a phrase from McLuhan’s 1962 book The Guttenberg Galaxy. In those days, we thought broadcast media—especially television—was going to beam American values into every nook of the globe. Now we have an even more powerful global network with even greater reach, and Srinivasan is concerned about the cultural homogenization it may bring in its wake. He especially wants to wake the West up to the way it ignores the cultural aspects of the Internet’s very structure.

Representing the world September 14 2017

We’re now emerging from what is a crazy idea that’s plagued the West for centuries, if not millennia: representationalism, which says that consciousness is an inner representation of an outer reality, and therefore to know the world is to have accurate representations of it. That idea is now on the run, chased by a confluence of philosophy and technology—changing our ideas about how to know the world.

The future of predictability July 03 2017

The ancient Egyptians knew that when Sirius disappeared for a few weeks and then became visible before dawn, a few weeks later the banks of the Nile would overflow. For three thousand years, this prediction held. Except it wasn’t really a prediction. The Egyptians didn’t have an idea of the future that enabled them to make predictions in the modern sense.

The news is no more April 29 2017

By now I assume we’re all tired not only of hearing fake news, but also of hearing about fake news. We’ve seen how it arises and spreads due to flaws in the structure of the Internet. We’ve heard lots of proposals for how to fix the problem, most of them implausible. We’ve gotten used to the conclusion, uttered with a sigh, that the Internet has irredeemably destroyed journalism and probably democracy.

The social life of info March 31 2017

Fifteen years ago, I learned something important from The Social Life of Information. In fact, it was so important that I thought I knew it all along: Information isn’t just content, and it does not move in rational, predictable ways. Rather, it follows the pathways established by our social relationships because information is social.

Reclaiming our attention March 01 2017

Tim Wu’s The Master Switch is one of the most referred-to books I know. Deservedly so. It tells the story of communications technology over the past 150 years or so and convincingly shows that over and over the same pattern repeats: The new medium is celebrated as providing a democratizing voice … and then it gets owned, consolidated and corporatized. The Internet, Wu implies, just might be the exception.

2016
Perspective on Knowledge: Humor and truth December 30 2016

I’ve spent all day counting and can report that there are approximately one million different explanations of what makes something funny, possibly because there are lots of different ways things can be funny. I’ve long preferred to think that it has something to do with the sudden revelation of a truth. But even if that’s right, there are reasons to think that humor may be a particularly dangerous medium for truth, which would be especially problematic in an age when many of us turn to comedy for news.

Perspective on Knowledge: Data and sense October 30 2016

Data has changed over the past 10 or 20 years. It’s not just that there’s so much more of it. Rather, it’s becoming a new sensible property of the world, like color or taste.

When we don't want to know October 01 2016

FICO feeds its neural network every scrap of data it can in order to find credit transactions that look fishy. But when it comes to coming up with credit scores, it purposefully excludes information that at least seems like it might be highly relevant. It’s right to do so. Sometimes the best knowledge is not the full knowledge.

Pokemon GO is our future September 01 2016

By the time you read this, the Pokémon GO phenomenon will undoubtedly have crested and begun to recede. But we are likely to have only begun to feel its effects. Its phenomenal adoption curve tells us that it is a well-designed game. So does the amount of time people are spending playing it. So does the set of people it’s gotten up off of couches and into the world (and occasionally into traffic).

What works is how things work July 01 2016

What works is how things work.

At least this seems to be the fundamental assumption we make. It helps explain how our tools affect our ideas about the world. It is not, however, the whole story.

Is the Internet making us stupid? May 31 2016

Is the Internet making us stupid? I’ve gone from being tired of this question to being more and more confused by it.

Re-decentralize knowledge April 29 2016

There was a time when the Web was flat. People created sites, and all sites were created equal.

Extending the mind March 31 2016

Where do you think? If you need to wrestle with a knotty problem, where do you do it?

Many of us will say something like we go for a walk or a run. Or perhaps we do our best thinking while driving or taking a shower. Or while gardening, woodworking or knitting. In all of these cases, we are alone with our thoughts—not just away from people, but away from the tools of thought.

The good old days of news March 01 2016

Now that we are deep into the backlash against the Internet, let’s pile on by reminiscing about the Good Old Days of knowledge before the Net. Shall we? We shall, taking the news as our example!

Justifying knowledge January 31 2016

Knowledge is justified true belief. That’s the classic definition from Plato. But what happens if when it comes to making practical decisions, justification is hard, incomplete and unreliable? Maybe that’s the best thing that can happen to knowledge.

2015
Perspective on Knowledge: The we of knowledge December 30 2015

I gave a talk recently on how our idea of the future is changing. We’re beginning to think that the future isn’t like blah blah blah but instead is going to be more like yadda yadda yadda. We’re beginning to see through whatever, and we’re coming to appreciate the truth of something else. The usual opining and bloviating.

What's greater than knowledge? October 29 2015

I’ve long been irked by the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom pyramid that is so often casually embraced as if its truth were obvious. I disagree with its implication that knowledge is a filtering down of information. I disagree even more that wisdom is a filtering of knowledge. But perhaps most irksome to me is its leaving understanding out of the picture entirely.

Seeing past your glasses October 01 2015

A couple of years ago, one of my nephews enthusiastically told us about a research paper he’d just read that provided evidence that people who speak a language with an accent simply cannot hear differences that seem so obvious to native speakers. For example, a Russian who, when speaking English, pronounces “W” as a “V” hears no difference between those two sounds no matter how many times and how slowly we enunciate them.

Sympathetic Knowledge September 01 2015

All reading starts off sympathetic. If you’re reading what someone wrote, it’s because you want to understand what she means. That’s an act of sympathy right there. You’re assuming that the writing is intelligible, that it has some value and that understanding how the world looks to someone else has some value.

Dissolution of metadata July 03 2015

The idea of metadata used to be easy. It was a type of shadow object that trailed the “real” object of which it was the metadata. Getting right which information to put into that shadow object wasn’t easy, but the concept itself was clean, clear and usually rectangular.

Technology affects us May 28 2015

The term “technodeterminism,” like “utopian” or “wild-eyed socialist,” is rarely used by the people to refer to themselves. But I’m willing to accept the characterization … so long as I then get to claim a moderate form of it.

Algorithmic prediction April 28 2015

The nice thing about the way we’ve predicted for centuries is that it lets us skip ahead. That, after all, is the point of prediction. But our new form of prediction won’t take any shortcuts. And that makes it weird … but also, perhaps, a more accurate representation of how the future works.

Interrupting thought March 31 2015

Sometimes these days when we talk about “going meta” about a topic, we mean what we used to call “being reflective” about it. Both ways of talking imply the value of interrupting the normal course of thought and taking a step back.

The end of headlines? March 01 2015

It can take a while to realize that Inside.com is a news aggregator without headlines. It turns out that headlines were yet another bad bad choice imposed on us by the limitations of paper.

Markets and networks January 30 2015

Airlines have strong incentives to make normal travel hell. That’s the argument Tim Wu makes in a post on The New Yorker site Dec 26 (“Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer,” newyorker.com/business/currency/airlines-want-you-to-suffer.) He’s right not only about airlines but also about the Internet, and about knowledge.

2014
Digital meta-literacy December 31 2014

I’m all in favor of digital literacy. In fact, I’m in favor of all three types (which I am making up), each one more meta than the one before. And I am especially in favor of the third, which is meta about being meta. If there were a fourth, which is meta about being meta about being meta, I’d be in favor of that one even more.

Minds need hands October 29 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I joined other former students of Joseph P. Fell at Bucknell University for a weekend honoring him. Although he is a philosophy professor, the takeaway for many of us was a reminder that while hands are useless without minds to guide them, minds need hands more deeply than we usually think.

The MVP process then and now September 29 2014

The term “minimum viable product” was coined by Frank Robinson in 2001 to describe a process that reverses the usual order of “design, build, sell.” By putting the earliest usable version of a product into the hands of a relatively small group of early adopters, the company can see what features are truly desired by its customers before it has invested heavily in features that its customers don’t actually want.

Amazon vs. The Librarians! The Fight of the Century! September 01 2014

Not really. It just somehow worked out that at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, I ended up identified with The Librarians, which would be fine with me, except it was for the wrong reasons.

The right to be forgotten July 03 2014

I understand why the top European court has insisted that Google remove links upon request. We’d all like some things on the Web to be forgotten. There are a few things I myself wouldn’t mind having removed. But, beyond the practical problems, I think the Court’s decision frames the question in a misleading way.

Thingy words May 28 2014

If you use the word “content” to talk about stuff on the Web, my friend Doc Searls is likely to give you a stiff talking-to. People don’t write content. They write articles, poems, songs, etc. Worse, content implies that the Web’s a one-way medium in which some people express their ideas and the rest of us “consume” them.

Just enough over my head April 29 2014

The annual conference for libraries using Evergreen open source software for their backend management began with brief statements by three users at different levels of experience. They each made three related points: They like the software, the community of users is important to them, and they are on the IRC channel more than they technically need to be.

The future of books March 31 2014

Twice in the past two weeks I've felt compelled to say that I think books have no future, first to a famous and deep scholar of the history of books, and then to a room full of librarians. Taking that position brought me no joy. I just didn't see an alternative.

Moving beyond credentials March 01 2014

Tom Nichols is an unhappy expert. His expertise is in social science and public policy. "When I say something on those subjects, I expect that my opinion holds more weight than that of most other people." He's unhappy because experts no longer have that sort of influence. This, he argues, is a problem for democracy. He's right. But there's more to the story.

Hogwash or science: Tags are messy and useful  January 31 2014

Jeff Atwood, the founder of Stack overflow.com and of Discourse.com, two of my favorite sites, tweeted recently: "I'd even go so far as to say folksonomy/tagging is the #1 overrated concept in the social media world." This followed up a tweet expressing his deep ambivalence "about tags as a panacea based on my experience with them at StackOverflow."

2013
Unexpected expertise  December 31 2013

If enough people are in a conversation, one of them will be an expert. The larger the crowd, the more unexpected will be the expertise contained within it.

Bad comments are your fault October 29 2013

Popular Science doesn't like the quality of its comments. It says there are too many "trolls and spambots." So, the magazine has taken the single most effective anti-troll, anti-spambot counter-measure: It's closed down its comments. In so doing, it's made a powerful statement to the entire Internet: "We don't know how to run a commenting feature, so shut up."

The history of technology September 29 2013

Ubuntu has proposed building a smart phone that is so powerful that when you get to work, you'd dock it and use it as your desktop PC. The Ubuntu Edge would be loaded with high-end features, including 128 gigabytes of storage, 4 gigabytes of RAM and the ability to connect to just about any phone network. Alas, the Edge will now be remembered as both the crowdfunded project that raised the most money and also the crowdfunded project that failed by the largest margin: Ubuntu raised $12 million but was aiming for $32 million. So, no Edge for you!

What the Web hides from us  September 01 2013

Consider a walk through the jungle before machetes were invented and afterward. Before, the jungle would appear as a landscape that was mainly impassable except for the natural breaks that allow passage. After the machete, it looks like a sea of vegetation that can be traversed somewhat freely, albeit with great effort. The "breaks" now look like the long way around that slow passage, not the affordances that enable it. And, after the machete, the act of moving through the jungle now violently alters it according to our will.

A limit to business intelligence? July 05 2013

In a post at CMS Wire, Greg Silverman, the CEO of Concentric, makes a good point about the new ability of market researchers to do their own analysis, rather than relying on big firms to do it for them. This, says Silverman, changes not only the economics of research, but also the nature of the results:

Technodeterminism  May 28 2013

Cyberutopians are taking a beating these days, in part because we deserve it and in part because the media find that sort of controversy appealing. Mixed into the critique, often confusingly, is a thrashing of technodeterminism. It deserves criticism also, but for different reasons.

The failure to attribute April 29 2013

A friend of mine discovered recently that a Major Corporation has used his words in a few of its slide decks. The words aren't many—about 10—but they're so distinct that it's unlikely the company happened to come up with them independently. My friend wouldn't be bothered by this, but the slide doesn't attribute those words to him. Attribution matters a whole heck of a lot ... although in another sense, it really doesn't matter at all.

The efficiency of partisan news March 31 2013

When the Federal Communications Commission or the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling that has me befuddled, as they usually do, I go straight to my partisan pals online to find out what I should think about it. I know I'm not supposed to, but I'm tired of feeling guilty about it. I'm doing the rational thing. It's our idea of understanding that's messed up.

Academic writing March 01 2013

Academics are the experts at knowing things—not necessarily the know-how of tacit knowledge, but the explicit knowing-about. So, overall, why are they so terrible at communicating what they know? It's not because they have poor communication skills. I'm guessing that a lot of it is due to having been trained according to an ideal of knowledge that pretty much guarantees that academics are going to be bad at conveying what they know.

Progress and knowledge January 31 2013

When it comes to knowledge, are we making progress? And if we are, why does it so often seem like we're  sliding backward as we try to climb Mt. Smartypants?

2012
The knowledge platform December 31 2012

Platforms are all the rage. In fact, they're so much the rage that they're probably now entering the post-rage phase of disappointment, to be followed by widespread ridicule. Nevertheless, no matter how trendy or not, platforms are a useful way to think about how to use knowledge to the advantage of your organization.

Understanding big data vs. theory October 30 2012

We don't need to understand what we know in order for that knowledge to be useful. For example, knowing that aspirin is good for headaches helps when you have a headache, even though for a long time we didn't understand why. Once you understand that "Aspirin inhibits prostaglandin production by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme," (as eHow.com tells me at http://goo.gl/dJipf)), that particular itch is scratched ... assuming you understand the explanation, which I do not. But understanding doesn't just make us feel better. Armed with this understanding of aspirin, you now know to look for other compounds that inhibit that ol' COX-2 more effectively or with fewer side effects. Understanding is a good thing all around.

Your business needs scholars September 29 2012

How meaning stuck ...  September 01 2012

We don't hear about "identity crises" much any more, but back in the late 1960s, they were a phase (and a phrase) a lot of us went through. I was 18 in 1968, and my identity crisis manifested itself as meaning slipping off the world. At its best, everything was equally absurd. At its worst, there didn't seem any reason to do one thing or another. I went through patches when there didn't seem any real reason to get up out of my chair.

Interoperability as a worldview July 05 2012

When my friend, colleague, boss and mentor, John Palfrey, introduces the topic of his new book—interoperability—he acknowledges that it sounds like it should be really dull. But it's not. In fact, John adds that when you've been thinking about the topic long enough, just about every issue begins to look like it's about interoperability. The book that he has written with my friend and colleague Urs Gasser bears this out. It's a broad, provocative work that raises questions on many levels.

Why is the Web so funny? May 28 2012

Where facts become data April 29 2012

The problems with facts March 31 2012

Learning like a developer learns March 01 2012

If you want to see the future—and who doesn't?—the place to begin your search is now. It's not only that the future is already here, just unevenly distributed, as William Gibson has put it. Sometimes it's all around us and we just haven't noticed. If you want to see the future of education and knowledge, take a look at how software developers learn. There's a strong case to be made that they have built for themselves the best continuing and rapid education system ever.

Who cares about knowledge? February 01 2012

I don't make predictions except when they're already true. So, here's one: The concept of knowledge is on its way out.

Curating abundance January 01 2012

2011
Letting data out of its box October 29 2011

I'm writing this from the audience of a conference of publishers of paper directories-yellow pages and the like. Most of them have, of course, already moved online, but they are hoping that the value of the data they have accumulated will protect them from native Web competitors. If a simple search engine will meet the needs of most users, then the data becomes the differentiator, or so they hope. Perhaps more realistically, these businesses recognize that they have another asset that is better able to compete against what the Web brings for free: Directory publishers have huge sales forces that know how to sell listings and ads.

Framing the Net, or being framed? September 29 2011

The wisdom of impractical knowledge September 01 2011

Open data commons for business July 05 2011

It is hard to overestimate the importance of open data commons to science. That's why if I were the CEO of a company, I'd be building an open data commons for my business.

DPLA: a good idea that has a shot May 28 2011

At a high enough level of abstraction, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a great idea. But, then, most things are. The question is whether it will be able to go from abstract to concrete. All that stands between it and success are some of the most powerful economic interests in the world ... as well as the tensions within itself.

The human drive of tech May 01 2011

I've been thinking a lot about technodeterminism these days, for two primary reasons.

First,  I've seemed to side pretty heavily, in my "career," with the technodeterminists, that is, with those who think that the Internet has an effect on us, and that that effect has a certain inevitability. If you say, for example, that the Internet will change business or politics, you are saying that technology itself has a determining effect, and you are a technodeterminist. I have been that person.

The Cloud way of life April 01 2011

I thought I loved the Cloud. I thought I was ready for the Cloud. I thought I could handle the Cloud. Then I got a Google notebook. And now I’m not so sure.

Revolution and the Net March 01 2011

As I write this, Tunisia has gone through a revolution, Egypt is in turmoil, and other states in the region are looking nervously over their shoulders. Here in the United States, we’re debating whether it’s right to call these “twitter revolutions.”

Explaining the Net's dominance February 01 2011

Is the Net really different from what came before? I’m going to say yes. The question is why.

Structure is coming back January 01 2011

I was paging through a copy of one of the Mac magazines that actually now carry more information about the iPhone that I don’t have than the Macintosh that I do, when I saw a review of Office 11. I still use Office when I have to—I’ve come to prefer iWork Pages simply because of the aesthetics—so I read it with interest. Not too much there that I care about ... except for one little item that caught my eye. In the grand cycle of structure vs. style, Word has taken a small step back toward structure.

2010
The amateur ecology October 29 2010

It used to be easier for amateurs to have a big impact.

For example, Charles Darwin was not exactly a professional scientist. He was not a member of a university or some other institution. He supported his scientific work through his travel writings, and later in his life from the inheritance from his father. He was, however, well integrated into the community of scientists, and was a member of scientific organizations such as the Royal Zoological Society, the Royal Society and the Linnean Society.

The underutilized resource beyond lists September 29 2010

Everyone loves a good list. In fact, we seem to be in the midst of List Mania, due in part to the success of Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto. And why not? When life gets so complicated that it takes 15 steps to find and watch Project Runway, a simple list of what it takes to remove a liver or land a plane is more than welcome. The world’s gotten complex, but we still can only walk through the most complicated maze one step at a time. So, get a walkthrough!

The long form of webby knowledge September 01 2010

We have a very clear idea of what knowledge looks like in this culture, especially at its high end. At its low end, the picture gets fuzzy: Do endless baseball stats count as knowledge? How about obsessive details about the rich and pointless? Sure, but we wouldn’t want to show off our species to our new alien overlords by presenting to them someone who knows the complete history of Lady Gaga’s wardrobe. No, for Knowledge with a capital K, we very likely think about a thick tome, clad in leather, and containing within its pages a tightly thought, seamless argument that concludes with a sentence that begins, “Therefore, it is established that ...” Now that’s knowledge!

Waiting for the fluid book format July 03 2010

Books are complex. Let’s hope someday our standards live up to them.

We’d all like to have a way to move the contents of a book into an ebook and from there into a Web page and then into a display suitable for the tiniest of screens and then have it read itself aloud to someone with impaired vision and then have it automatically decompose into daily blog posts and then reassemble itself into a book, all without any loss of data or metadata. Of course, we’d all like that to be done with nothing but open source tools.

A lot to hate ...But PowerPoint brings order to unruly thoughts May 28 2010

People hate all sorts of software because it’s hard to use, under-featured, or just plain irritating. But they hate PowerPoint for deeper reasons—for what it does to meetings, for what it does to social interaction, for what it does to how we think. Yet that blind fury can bring us to forget that PowerPoint took us a big step past where we were.

Authority as a market April 01 2010

I usually think of the change in the authority of knowledge in terms of a developing ecology. Now I think there’s utility in thinking of it as a market.

The Internet and peace March 01 2010

A Nobel Peace Prize for the Internet? It seems so silly that it might be a parody of the awarding of the prize to our young president. But it is being put forward seriously by Riccardo Luna, editor in chief of the Italian edition of Wired magazine, and it’s been applauded by Chris Anderson (the U.S. editor of Wired), by 2003 Peace Nobelist Shirin Ebadi, even by designer Giorgio Armani.

Bringing on the info overload February 01 2010

Information overload isn’t the problem we once thought it was. In fact, as the Internet Age got started, it renounced its entire heritage, and even changed its basic character. It’s as if Jenna Bush changed her last name to Gore and then transformed from a person into, say, a climate. In the case of info overload, the change tells us a lot about our current age.

The future is a gimmick  January 01 2010

As William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here—it’s just unevenly distributed.” Or, put more snarkily, the future is already here—it just got distributed to the wealthy first. Either way, when the future arrives, it often looks like a gimmick.

2009
What attribute best describes the Internet age? October 28 2009

We have been in the Age of Information. What comes next? More exactly, what will we call what comes next?

What's wrong with Craigslist? September 29 2009

The cover of the September issue of Wired blares "The Tragedy of Craigslist." The story inside, by veteran writer Gary Wolf, is headlined "Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess." The article opens with a few paragraphs of what Craigslist lacks: Basically, every Web 2.0, social media feature that exists. Why, then, do people who trumpet social media and user-based ways of organizing information also trumpet Craigslist? That’s what Wolf wants to know.

Transparency: the new objectivity August 28 2009

Objectivity serves its purpose, but in some of the most important realms, its time has passed. In those realms, transparency is the new objectivity.

Your help with the new expertise July 03 2009

I’d like your help.

I’m working on something about what’s happening to expertise in this new world we’re building for ourselves. I’m focusing on how businesses are using experts, and how that’s changing. But I need your ideas and, most of all, your stories.

The beauty of mesh networking June 01 2009

The first time I heard about mesh networking, I was at a 50-person conference about how to keep the Internet from being turned into a clone of the phone system. One of the attendees—all of whom knew more about the topic than I did—talked about a geekfest he’d been to in Berlin where about 50 little mesh networking cubes were scattered about the city. I pictured them lighting up, one by one, as they found one another and created a network out of nowhere. The cubes themselves were cheaper than wifi routers at the time (and still are). The conference attendees were excited by the experiment, I think perhaps by the beauty of the networking model as much as by the realistic prospects.

Pros and cons of the Google book deal  May 01 2009

The Google Book Search settlement is huge, complex and overall a big step forward. But it’s also quite scary. The world of print is about to change, mainly for the better.

Knowledge and understanding  April 01 2009

There are things I know and things I understand. The distinction is blurry, but real. And crucial.

Resolutions: folders, wisdom and Tabasco  February 02 2009

Ah, ’tis the season to lie to yourself, and, if standing under mistletoe, to others. (Am I getting those traditions right?) Yes, it’s time to resolve to be a better person, to do things right, and to not learn from one’s experience that New Year’s resolutions are nothing but a way to start off fresh with a big pile of bad faith promises on one’s shoulders. So, here goes.

What crowds are wise at  January 02 2009

Meme used to mean something very specific. It came from chapter 11 of Richard Dawkins’ book on genetics, The Selfish Gene: "Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain ... "

2008
The Leave It to Beaver media  November 03 2008

Have you watched a ‘50s TV show recently? I don’t mean a "classic" such as I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners (two shows I actually can’t stand), but some fare more typical of the age. Say, Leave It to Beaver. OMG. How awful those shows were! It’s not just the relentless happiness of every single character or the unremarked assumption of whiteness. It’s that these were really, really bad shows. How could they think that the Beaver putting too much detergent into the washing machine could really fill a half hour? Not to put too fine a point on it, these shows were Not Funny. Not a chuckle. Not a smile. If you have any doubt about that, compare them to any rerun of Malcolm in the Middle. Malcolm is the anti-Beaver. It’s all problems all the time. And, most important, it’s funny. Not amusing. Not pretend funny. It’s actually funny.

The ambiguity of information September 29 2008

We are very confused about the meaning of the word "information." And that’s for two good reasons.

The great debates  July 11 2008

Debategraph.org has ambitious goals. It would like to be the place you go to when you want to understand one of the difficult, contentious issues that we’ve been arguing about for years. Its topics include climate change, the Iranian nuclear program, the legalization of drugs, whether computers can think, genetic enhancements for sports, abortion, intelligent design and how to solve road congestion in the U.K. But, rather than just posting a topic and letting us go at it, Debategraph structures the debate by providing a particular toolset. The result is a map of the debate.

Cerfing complexity  May 30 2008

Vint Cerf is generally called the father of the Internet. He was in the group that connected the first two nodes of ARPANET and was one of the designers of the TCP/IP protocol. And that was just the beginning. So, the appellation is well deserved. We are lucky to have had a person of such caliber at the founding, for like Tim Berners-Lee and many others who have given us so much, Cerf’s public impulses have consistently been selfless and generous.

Online libraries are not libraries at all April 01 2008

The commoditization of knowledge February 05 2008

As we sit around the table at the academic center I’m at, most of us have our laptops open. We’ve taken to warning visitors about this. We’re not being rude, we say, we’re just engaging on multiple levels.

2007
Unclear and indistinct ... and uncertain  July 12 2007

René Descartes (1596-1650) had an architectural view of knowledge. So do we. We and René think beliefs have a basis, and that fundamental ideas provide a basis we can build on. Putting one thing on top of another to build a structure that shelters us is one of our primordial experiences. If the foundation teeters, so does the structure. And that’s how we think of knowledge.

Libraries in the age of social knowledge  April 30 2007

Some social networking sites succeed, and some fail. Frequently, the ones that succeed don’t just connect people and hope for the best. They provide social objects, items that the group can share, talk about and build relationships around. In business teams, “deliverables” frequently serve that purpose: As the drafts of the proposal or report or spreadsheet get passed around, team members contribute, and along the way expose a bit about themselves and build relationships. Social objects build societies.

Knowledge we value requires forgiveness  April 01 2007

Life was easier when knowledge was just content. We know how to handle content. In fact, we had a single methodology for handling it across its multiple domains: It’s basically the same stuff whether it’s lodged in our head, transmitted by a teacher or written in a book. We know how to build it, store it and move it.

The real difference between the two 2.0s February 01 2007

Tim O¹Reilly reports that the concept of "Web 2.0" arose from a whiteboarding session in which folks started coming up with pairs that illustrate where the Web was and what it¹s become: From Britannica Online to Wikipedia, mp3.com to Napster, home pages to blogs, taxonomies to folksonomies. Enough had changed, the group thought, that the Web deserved to have a new revision number slapped on it. Thus was Web 2.0 launched. And it caught on. Now, inevitably, there's talk of "KM 2.0." There¹s some justification for using the term, but we should be careful and not let it obscure the very real differences to the state of the Web and the state of KM.

2006
Open science: good fit for the digital age December 28 2006

Anthropologists are in an uproar. A few weeks before the annual American Anthro- pological Association meeting in San Jose, an ad hoc group put up a site that protested the AAA's insistence on keeping the publishing of scientific papers as a for-profit activity. "How has the AAA gotten to a point where its solvency seems to be based solely on the sales of our scholarly work?" the site challenged. "Work that has already been paid for by public and private granting agencies, which we pay registration fees to present at conferences organized by the scholarly society we pay membership fees to join? Why must we also charge our readers?" In particular, the site objected to the AAA's public opposition to federal legislation that would require any research it funds to be available for free.

Conversation and the cult of expertise October 27 2006

It's a sign of my late-blooming maturity (my 56th birthday is coming around but I still dress as if I'm going to summer camp) that I agreed to participate in a conference with the CIA about how social software could help its intelligence analysts. I was brought up to believe that the CIA was one of the great evils in the world, responsible for assassinating foreign leaders and overthrowing regimes at the whim of our government and large economic institutions.

The philosophy of business knowledge July 07 2006

I've been crawling through a book my favorite college professor gave me a couple of years ago. It's very hard because no topic causes philosophers to tangle themselves up quite so much as does knowledge. You get a philosopher trying to know knowledge and you will soon be lost in a circle of meta-knowing that spawns its own language before cycling into unknowability. It's tough, especially since knowledge has been philosophy's own topic. Philosophy doesn't have a set subject matter, unlike biology or astronomy, so it instead has investigated what other disciplines take for granted, including what it means to know something about living creatures or the stars.

The case for two semantic webs May 26 2006

The Web is semantic. It has to be because we've written it. It is an endless ocean of words and deliberately created images. Every link in every blog post also has meaning, and almost always that meaning is expressed explicitly or is blindingly clear from context: not simply "Click here and you'll get a surprise" but "Click here to read Glenn's latest bad idea" or "Click here to hear why Shelley thinks the tech conference she was at stacked the deck against women." One way or another, Web pages almost always tell us what the destination of the link is about, and often what we ought to think about it.

Does information need architects? April 26 2006

At the Information Architecture Summit in March in Vancouver, it was surprisingly hard to find someone willing to call herself an information architect. "I don't like to call myself that because ... " was a common phrase used as people introduced themselves. Similarly, the question of the precise definition of information architecture was frequently raised and almost as frequently skirted. This is surprising at a conference whose attendance is booming and in a profession the value of which is clear and clearly increasing.

The Landscape of Language March 27 2006

I am visiting our daughter who is studying in Florence, Italy, for a semester, and last night dreamed the question: "If you lived before language and could make up one word, what word would it be?" In my dream, I at first thought I'd give myself a name. But then I thought how weird it would be to be the only person on the planet with one of those. What sense would people be able to make of a name without a system of names? And the same is true for any other word without a system of language. Words aren't the simple labels we sometimes think they are. True, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once proposed a "block language" that consists of simple, one-word commands that cause workers to fetch blocks, but those are words the way a bell or the tip of a switch is a word. They are not words the way words are words.

Truth vs. authority February 24 2006

If you visit the article on "conservativism" at Wikipedia, you'll see--at least as of this writing--a strong warning at the top, complete with a graphic of a hand warning you to stop:

Was there always information? February 01 2006

"There's always been information," said a member of an information architects mailing list I audit. I think that's probably not true, and it has implications for what we think our businesses are made out of.

Four former truths about knowledge  January 01 2006

Traditional knowledge has four properties that are relevant to the change we're going through. Two of those characteristics repeat properties of reality and two repeat properties of political regimes. Put them together, and knowledge not only confers power, it does so in the name of the nature of reality.

2005
Creating informed consumers November 01 2005

  Juicy Fruit gum has a blog. At long last, those who need their daily dose of news ‘n' views about indigestible food products have a place to go.

Alphabetical order October 01 2005

Adler, who died at 98 in 2001, is chiefly remembered for two huge accomplishments: the Great Books of the Western World series, published in 1952, and the Propaedia, published in 1984, both published by the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Both attempt to give the reader a sense of how ideas connect, which is exactly what alphabetical order does not do.

The BBC's low-tech KM September 01 2005

Euan Semple heads up knowledge management for a little organization you may not only have heard of but have actually heard: The British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC runs on knowledge, and Semple has a piece of advice for other large organizations: Social computing isn't a fad and it isn't an adjunct to a KM system. It is where knowledge lives.

When the BBC gave Semple the job, they expected him to spec out a big, expensive IT-based KM system. "But," he says, "my view is that we're a network-based, conversational type of business. I realized the best way to go was beneath the radar." Because he was in charge of the BBC's intranet, he was able to set up his own servers without asking anyone. Perhaps most important, he says, "I didn't feel like I was running it. I was just letting people get together."

An equal and opposite reaction July 01 2005

I've let my Marxism studies lapse ever since the breakup of the USSR killed all the good job opportunities for career communists, but somewhere someone talks about the dangerous period when the old guard becomes even more old-guard-ish as the forces of reform become well nigh undeniable. And that's where we are in various fronts of the digital revolution.

You can see the same basic movement in three areas: corporate Net use, the media and education.

The size of topics June 01 2005

Nicholson Baker has a lovely essay in his book "The Size of Thoughts" about, well, the size of thoughts. He asserts as if it's obvious that most are about three feet tall. Now, that's absurd of course, but Baker's essay works because it lets him talk about the thoughts that are exceptionally small and the ones that are way bigger than any of us.

Anonymously yours May 01 2005

The problem with anonymity is the word. Anonymity is so much the default in the real world--when I'm walking down the street, I have no right to demand to know who you are--that we don't even have a word for it. We use the word "anonymous" in the rare circumstances where we're expected to identify ourselves and we resist that expectation. And in many of those circumstances, we assert our right to anonymity because we're frightened or ashamed. So, "anonymity" has gotten associated with cowards hiding their faces and talking from the shadows, even though it is a right we carry around with us every day.

Trusting Times April 01 2005

The New York Times in April is relaunching nytimes.com, one of the most trafficked sites on the Web. The changes are going to embed The Times straight into the Web's content infrastructure, but, I'm afraid, its very virtues are going to make it less useful than it might be.

Blogs and the values of journalism March 01 2005

For me, the defining moment at the “Blogging, Journalism and Credibility” conference held at Harvard recently came in an exchange between Jimmy Wales, creator of Wikipedia, and Jill Abramson, managing editor of The New York Times. Abramson was responding to the idea that blogs could displace traditional news-gathering organizations. "Do you know how much it takes to run our Baghdad operation?" she asked. "One million dollars."

The virtue and vice of audio February 01 2005

I'm all in favor of podcasting. I think it's interesting, important and even cool (although having me be an arbiter of cool is like handing Donald Duck the wine menu). So why is it that I don't ever listen to podcasts?

The silence of the Web January 01 2005

I'm going to tell you something I'm not proud of. But that's exactly why I'm telling you. Here goes: I sort of kind of believe that President Bush was wired with a radio receiver during that first debate. I have zero interest in convincing anyone of that, mainly because I'm not convinced of it myself. In fact, when I realized that that was what I (sort of) believe, I surprised myself. How did I come to such a conclusion? The answer I think tells us something about how knowledge and authority are changing.

2004
All hail Foo November 01 2004

Foo Camp is the best conference ever. Or at least the oddest, excluding get-togethers such as Burning Man and Woodstock that can only be called conferences if you're willing to stretch the word past the breaking point.

Free Dewey! October 01 2004

The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system has nine main categories, each with 10 major-category slots available to the left of the decimal point. Of the 100 major slots available, why then are 88 of them given over to Christian topics, with one each for Jews and Moslems? Why are Buddhists and Hindus confined to the right of the decimal point? Dewey guy must have been a bigot, and the Online Computer Library Center that owns the DDC must be some right-wing Christian evangelist group.

Reading Aristotle September 01 2004

It's been about 30 years since I read Aristotle. At the time, I remember him as a nit-picker and concept-slicer whose way was determined by the problems his predecessors had run into. I admired him for undoing some of the weirdisms of Plato and returning thought to a path that accorded better with the basics of our experience, but, overall, he was a hurdle to be gotten over on the way to other projects.

Things I know July 01 2004

I know the earth is round. I know this because (I presume) when I was first introduced to the concept of the earth, it was by having a teacher hold a globe. Since then, everything I've been told and experienced has been consistent with the spherical nature first thrust before my young eyes. In fact, I saw a photograph of the entire earth in the late '60s, a sight never before seen by humans, as Stewart Brand noted movingly.

When a window isn't a window, just a pane  March 01 2004

All my elderly friend wants to do is use a Web browser to pick up his e-mail. You'd think he'd be qualified, what with his law degree from Harvard and all. But, nope, he can't do it.

The slippery slope of learning  January 01 2004

A couple of days before writing this, the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ruled that barriers to gay marriages violate the state constitution. Now, I don't care what you think about this issue—actually, I care a lot but I'm not going to argue it here—but it illustrates something important about how we change our minds.

2003
People smart November 01 2003

By now we've all learned, thanks to Howard Gardner, that there are multiple types of intelligence. There's book smart, practical smart, and the type of smart that makes you really annoying when you play "Trivial Pursuit." But what does it mean for an organization to be smart?

Tacit emergence October 01 2003

When Isaac Asimov wrote his Foundation trilogy about how a galactic empire rose and fell, he came up with a way to chart large-scale events so that they'd have the inevitability of history: He read history. He took the general outline of the events from Gibbon's "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire." (Of course, if he did that now, he'd be exposed as a plagiarist and then sued for violating Gibbon's copyright, but that's not my point.) We don't do a very good job of predicting history because it's way too complex. History emerges from the welter of events, interests and resources of us humans, with the occasional volcanic eruption and drought just to keep us honest.

Model knowledge July 01 2003

We understand things by seeing how the new thing is like an old thing. That means that we can't ever be radically surprised by anything, but it also means that we're capable of learning, assuming that learning has something to do with fitting things into a context. Sounds like a good trade-off to me.

The truth of weblogs June 01 2003

Everyone knows that there are serious problems with objectivity. At last we may have a corrective, a way of thinking that doesn't fall into the obvious traps. Oddly, it's little ol' weblogs that are leading the way.

Knowledge Newspeak May 01 2003

In George Orwell's "1984," the totalitarian government achieved its control in part through what today we might call "LM," language management. Newspeak is most famous for redefining the elemental words, so that "peace" means "war." Today's knowledge managers would never stoop to such tactics; they leave that to marketing. But there's another aspect of Newspeak that is more relevant to KM: In Orwell's dystopia, every edition of the dictionary had fewer words than the one before it, for Orwell's nightmare government achieved control of ideas by driving out ambiguity.

Sorting truth from bluster April 01 2003

Not only does Tom Stewart look like an English professor, I've heard him casually discuss the difference between the Old English of "Beowulf" and the Middle English of "The Canterbury Tales." The author of "Intellectual Capital," and now the editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, Stewart's no flaky hippy preaching to business that "All They Need Is Love."

The Net as rhetoric March 01 2003

Rhetoric has gotten a bad rap. It's come to mean shady or superfluous verbosity, which is more or less the opposite of what it actually means: persuasive talk. Aristotle, who wrote a bestseller called "The Rhetoric," understood rhetoric could indeed be misused to bamboozle the listener, but was interested in it primarily because it is a way of bringing others to see the truth of the world. In a political environment in which the future of the state was determined by the ability of the community to see the truth, rhetoric was of no small importance. And so it still should be.

Knowledge and anonymity February 01 2003

A debate is wanting to rage. It's about digital identities and the fate of anonymity on the Internet. The argument is boiling under the surface, but it needs to happen in the open, everywhere, for much of what we value about the Web is at stake.

Distributed fairness January 01 2003

I hadn't been to an academic event for a while. And, even though it was at MIT and sponsored by MIT with MIT panelists and MIT students in the audience, the panel discussion was not like the academic sessions I remember from my late youth (i.e., up until I was 36). Informal. 15-minute talks. No footnotes. PowerPoint allowed.

2002
The arrogance of knowledge November 01 2002

"It's a type of arrogance to think we can understand consciousness." So said the person next to me at dinner as we discussed a presentation by Ray Kurzweil, the technology impressario who has brought us technology that matters, including world-class music synthesizers and reading machines for the blind and dyslexic. To my surprise, I found myself disagreeing.

Knowledge transformation October 01 2002

On the radio this morning was an ad from a local community college. "You got plans? Dreams? Want to get ahead?" it said. "Then go to college and get the knowledge you need."

The 99 cent KM solution September 01 2002

I am not opposed to big, expensive, all-embracing KM solutions. I'm just suspicious of them. There is a difference. And I get more suspicious of them as they promise to automate more. On the other hand, the ones that offer to put me in touch with more people bring a rosy glow of happiness to my face. Maybe it's just me. So, I don't want to discourage anyone from investigating big, expensive systems. Some of my best friends work at the companies you'll be talking to. But I do also want to encourage you to keep in mind that you can do a lot on a shoestring budget.

Knowledge abundance July 01 2002

Hubert Dreyfus is the author of one of my favorite books, "What Computers Can't Do," a convincing philosophical argument against the possibility of the interesting types of AI. Now he's written a brief against the Internet called "On the Net," which in a hundred pages tries to let the air out of the cultural Internet bubble. And, he gets it wrong, in my opinion. Fortunately, he gets it wrong in a way that sheds light on one of the assumptions that keeps businesses from taking advantage of the knowledge the Net is making accessible.

Postmodern knowledge management June 01 2002

Postmodernism is a pain in the butt, starting with its very title. Since modern means “now,” how can you be after now except by not existing yet? But, despite its adoption by smart-alecks who use it just to show how smart they are, postmodernism has much to teach us, especially when it comes to the nature of knowledge.

Bodily knowledge May 01 2002

For the past couple of thousand of years, our sense of knowledge has gotten thinner and thinner. We have limited knowledge to what can be known with certainty, and "with certainty" has come to mean "can be proven rationally." The result is that true knowledge, real knowledge, tends to be quite narrow in scope and quite boring. For example, you can't by this criterion know with certainty juicy statements such as "God exists and loves us" or even "It's good to be curious." If we can know anything, it will be simple facts like "Water boils at 100C" and "I currently have the sensation of a laptop computer on my lap." Certain but borrrrinnnng.

Read this book May 01 2002

For the past couple of thousand of years, our sense of knowledge has gotten thinner and thinner. We have limited knowledge to what can be known with certainty, and "with certainty" has come to mean "can be proven rationally." The result is that true knowledge, real knowledge, tends to be quite narrow in scope and quite boring. For example, you can't by this criterion know with certainty juicy statements such as "God exists and loves us" or even "It's good to be curious." If we can know anything, it will be simple facts like "Water boils at 100C" and "I currently have the sensation of a laptop computer on my lap." Certain but borrrrinnnng.

M&M's and mixed nuts April 01 2002

Here's a perennial problem seemingly baked into how we humans organize ourselves.

On the one hand, we have a seemingly natural tendency to cluster ourselves into groups of relatively like-minded people. In fact, we can't have a conversation unless we share some assumptions and some values. In double fact, we can't learn anything except by assimilating the new into the familiar.

M&M's and mixed nuts March 06 2002

Here's a perennial problem seemingly baked into how we humans organize ourselves.

On the one hand, we have a seemingly natural tendency to cluster ourselves into groups of relatively like-minded people. In fact, we can't have a conversation unless we share some assumptions and some values. In double fact, we can't learn anything except by assimilating the new into the familiar.

Business science and business religion March 01 2002

"Religious beliefs are absolute," said the posting to the archly realistic mailing list, "and as such, they are unfalsifiable." They are, according to the writer, therefore in the same category as beliefs about Santa Claus and preferences for boysenberry yogurt. This raises two questions for business: How many business beliefs are falsifiable? And are the ones that are not falsifiable really of no more value than a belief in the Easter Bunny?

Word avatars February 01 2002

There is always a Standard Future. In the 1950s, the Standard Future consisted of people in personal heliocopters powered by home nuclear power plants. In the 1960s, the Standard Future was a little vague but it had something to do with tie-dyed suits and the Panama Red brand of smokables delivered by a major tobacco company. Just a few years ago, our standard picture of the Internet's future had colorful, graphical avatars wandering the Information Highway representing us and our interests.

2001
Computers, conformity and KM November 01 2001

For decades, when people thought of computers they thought of soulless machines that were instruments of conformity. There was good reason for this. That's exactly what computers were. Computers only really took off when they moved away from this type of rigidity. KM, unfortunately, runs the perpetual risk of forgetting that lesson.

Putting the author back in authority October 01 2001

A friend of mine died of breast cancer a few months ago. Or, perhaps I should say that she died of the herbal remedies that were ineffective where traditional medicine might have worked. Or perhaps I should say that she died of bad information. Or perhaps of optimism. All played a part, and nothing may have availed her. Nevertheless, I read with sympathy the notice up on the discussion page of the Australian government's I-Source National Breast Cancer Centre, NBCC :

The importance of writing badly September 01 2001

Elmore Leonard is my favorite summertime author, so I was quite interested in his instructions to writers in a recent article. Never use any verb other than "said" when your character speaks, Leonard advises us, and never modify "said" with an adverb of any sort. Skip the long descriptions. And get the dialogue right. Thus spake Leonard. But, it seems to me these are not rules about how to write but how to write like Elmore Leonard ... and, at the same time, how to write a parody of Elmore Leonard.

The importance of writing badly July 30 2001

Elmore Leonard is my favorite summertime author, so I was quite interested in his instructions to writers in a recent New York Times article. Never use any verb other than "said" when your character speaks, Leonard advises us, and never modify "said" with an adverb of any sort. Skip the long descriptions. And get the dialogue right. Thus spake Leonard. But, it seems to me these are not rules about how to write but how to write like Elmore Leonard ... and, at the same time, how to write a parody of Elmore Leonard.

To err is you, man May 07 2001

For many years I wondered what sense forgiveness makes. It's not that I hold grudges (I don't particularly) but as a concept, forgiveness seemed irrational and even immoral: someone does something wrong and we're supposed to pretend it never happened? Shouldn't truth and memory win out?

Solid SOAP and its buddy UDDI March 26 2001

According to a recent agreement, eBay will make its underlying auction capabilities available to Microsoft's developers through the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). This isn't proof of the SOAP pudding, just one more indication that SOAP is a durn important puddin', even more so with the advent of UDDI. It means that Microsoft's CarPoint site, for example, would be able not just to link to eBay.com but to use eBay's auction services to run auctions on the CarPoint site. And that's just for starters (well, also for distributors and carburetors): SOAP and UDDI head us towards a Web that knits together not just content but also applications.

XHTML and the sixth day of creation March 12 2001

On the first day God created SGML as a way of structuring documents so that they would have something to live up to. (Any resemblance of God to Charles Goldfarb or any other creature is unintentional.) Tim Berners-Lee was shown SGML and saw that it was good but waaaay too complex.

Friends on the Web March 05 2001

The Eskimos have 40 words for snow. (Note: I know that's a linguistic folk tale. And I know they no longer like to be called Eskimos. But if you keep raising objections at the rate of one every 3.5 words, we'll never get anywhere.) And we don't even have one word for our pals on the Web.

What is truth? February 26 2001

Here's what makes me mad: People who, when the going gets rough in a conversation, say something like: "Well, that's true for you. Everyone has a different truth, man." Say wha'? If we all have a different truth, then truth is whatever we believe. Believing makes it so. This childish, fairy tale philosophy undermines not only the authoritarian control of experts (three cheers) but also the possibility of being interested in what another person has to say. It's the conversational way out of having to think. It is as insulting as the kid with the backwards baseball cap who rolls his eyes and says, "What-EV-er."

Small pieces loosely joined: An experiment in embarrassment February 12 2001

The Web is changing the rhythm of writing. We currently keep a document private until the moment of publication, whether that consists of a hardback book being shipped to stores or a 20-page report being slapped down on a conference room table. The Web is getting us to collaborate earlier and earlier, which means we have to be willing to show our work earlier. The document becomes a thing in process. Rather than serving as a stake in the ground, it becomes a fallible and changeable anchor of a collaborative process. We thus expose more of ourselves, whittling away at the hard shell of the self.

The problem with professionals January 29 2001

Becoming a professional is a class aspiration. Being treated in a professional manner is almost always a good thing. Professionalism is a virtue. Professionals qua professionals do positive things such as live up to their obligations and support a code of ethics. Professionals are reliable, trustworthy and treat other professionals with respect, as well as possibly giving them a serious discount. But professionalism is only helpful up to a point. After that, it becomes an obstacle to collaboration, productivity and Building a Better Tomorrow.

How to write a real good business plan January 15 2001

The business plan plays a unique role in the life of a business. It tells investors why this is a unique opportunity to get richer, it crystallizes the strategy for the company itself, and it gives the management team an opportunity to better understand what fiction writers go through.

Personal criticism January 03 2001

A reader working on his Masters Degree, and who is given to saying things such as "Of course, 'C'est le ton qui fait la musique'..." * ("It takes a ton of fate to write music") writes that he is having trouble understanding what I say on page 145 of The Cluetrain Manifesto:

2000
The peer-to-peer future of document management December 18 2000

Aimster is not a document management product. It represents, however, the future of document management.

Secrets in a day-lit world December 04 2000

What I know about security could be fit in the firmware of a Linksys home-network router box. But, amidst the important technical jabber about how to make your system impregnable--interesting choice of words, eh?--let's remember to consider the human price of security. Then we can get back to buckling the chastity belt around our precious information systems.

Lessons from the campaign December 01 2000

During the campaign, Americans got a KM case in point: Bush against Gore in a "debate." (Disclaimer: What follows is intended to be only inadvertently partisan.) Among the important issues to be settled are:

The new common sense November 28 2000

It's premature to answer many of the most urgent questions about the Web. What do we do about intellectual property, about pornography, about privacy, about this and about that? While we desperately need answers to these questions, there's no possibility of giving good answers. At least not yet.

Inaccurate knowledge November 20 2000

There's no problem mapping a shoreline. Until, that is, you look at it too closely. Suddenly the definition of this clear line loses resolution. Even if you decide to draw your map at a particular time of day and thus plan on drawing a gray zone to account for the tides, as you drop your scale to the size of a grain of sand, indeterminacy overtakes accuracy. Do you count this grain or not? It's half under water, half above water. And now, as a wave departs and another returns, the grain of sand is changing its state even as we watch. As the chaos theorists have pointed out (using something like this very example), there is no accuracy if you're willing to look closely enough.

Searching for trust November 06 2000

Note: The following contains a recollection that is hotly disputed byfriends -- including the marketing person and the chief technology guruinvolved -- whose memories of these events are as vivid as mine. The mainissue seems to be whether we ever seriously discussed the first version ofthe plan discussed below. Also, whether I was a pig-headed, sanctimoniousa-hole about it. Actually, there's widespread agreement about the latterpoint.

How to write a real good PowerPoint October 30 2000

Having written my share of PowerPoint presentations in the past 10 years, and having seen more than my share of them, I'd like to pass along to you some of the insights I've gained. Follow these simple guidelines and you're sure to have a "deck" that meets — or even surpasses — the minimum daily requirements for PowerPoint business intake.

KM's complex questions October 16 2000

I tried to warn the interviewer. "I'm not likely to be able to help you," I told him. It didn't matter; his editor had me on a list of people to call. "So," the interviewer continued, "for this primer on KM, I was wondering if you could tell me what you think knowledge is and what's the best way to manage the knowledge asset."

Lessons from the debates October 02 2000

On Tuesday night, Americans get a KM case in point: Bush against Gore in a "debate." (Disclaimer: What follows is intended to be only inadvertently partisan.) Among the important issues to be settled are:

The metaphors of technology October 01 2000

Societies tend to understand what it is to be human in terms of the technology they use every day. For example, when mechanical clocks were invented, the universe started looking like a grand clockwork. When steam engines transformed industry, we started understanding our psyches in terms of various pressures, and we started to talk about "venting." In the age of computers, we have inputs, process information and produce outputs.

Webs and brains and comparisons September 25 2000

"The Net is not like a brain!" I heard myself arguing with more vigor than I'd intended. Unfortunately, the person I chose to gainsay on this topic had been introduced as a hedge fund manager but turned out also to be a neuroscientist at the University of California's Brain Imaging Center. He knows the brain the way I know...well, I don't know anything as well as he knows the brain. You'd be surprised at how much I learned about the ways the Net is indeed like a brain.

The inverse rule September 11 2000

So, you recently arrived from Alpha Centauri and need a guide to understand how people express what they know? The first thing you have to learn is Newton's unheralded fifth law of thermodynamics, The Inverse Rule. Here are four variations on it:

Random knowledge September 01 2000

There's plenty of knowledge in your company. The problem is telling who has it. For example, you're at the big meeting to decide what to do about the coming Flannel Crisis that threatens the very marrow of your business. Maria says to lay in a supply. Germaine says to move to synthetic flannel. Oscar says to set fire to your competitors' warehouses. Frances excuses herself and goes to call her stock broker. Someone in the room undoubtedly is saying the truth. Someone has knowledge. But who?

The danger of knowing August 28 2000

Philosophers argue whether if you know something, you also know that you know it. If knowledge has something to do with having good reasons for believing something, then it seems to me that if you know something but don't know that you know it, then knowing it--as opposed to thinking it may be right--doesn't do anyone much good. So, for purposes of this column, let's assume that if you know something, you know that you know it.

Technology as metaphor August 21 2000

Societies tend to understand what it is to be human in terms of the technology they use every day. For example, when mechanical clocks were invented, the universe started looking like a grand clockwork. When steam engines transformed industry, we started understanding our psyches in terms of various pressures, and we started to talk about "venting." In the age of computers, we have inputs, process information, and produce outputs.

The great chain of knowledge August 14 2000

If I hear one more time that someone's KM product goes beyond knowledge all the way to wisdom, I will hurl. (For those who don't speak American, "hurl" is slang for "toss one's cookies," i.e., "revisit lunch.")

Random knowledge August 07 2000

There's plenty of knowledge in your company. The problem is telling who has it. For example, you're at the big meeting to decide what to do about the coming Flannel Crisis that threatens the very marrow of your business. Maria says to lay in a supply. Germaine says to move to synthetic flannel. Oscar says to set fire to your competitors' warehouses. Frances excuses herself and goes to call her stock broker. Someone in the room undoubtedly is saying the truth. Someone has knowledge. But who?

The question of questions August 01 2000

Knowledge isn't a matter of having lots of smart content stuffed in your head. Or if that's what it is, who cares about it? Imagine that everyone in your organization is full of mental content but is unable to express it. They can't explain a thing. They can't answer a single question. They may be geniuses, but who cares? You've got an office full of know-it-alls. Flee! Flee!

Tribal knowledge July 24 2000

Here's how to get yourself fired tout de suite from your job as a marketing VP at a software company. I know because I saw it happen. During your first week, mark your territory by coming in way early one morning and posting enthusiastic, morale-lifting slogans on every floor of the building, including where the developers dwell. These posters should say things like "We're not all in the Sales Department, but we're all salespeople," and "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." The engineers will immediately think you're ridiculous, and it will only be a matter of time before you're laughed out of the business.

Truth is over-valued July 17 2000

The Standard Issue definition of truth is that truth is a property of statements and that a statement is true if it corresponds to the existing state of affairs. So "The cat is on the mat" is true if the cat is in fact on the mat.

The question of questions July 06 2000

Knowledge isn't a matter of having lots of smart content stuffed in your head. Or if that's what it is, who cares about it? Imagine that everyone in your organization is full of mental content but is unable to express it. They can't explain a thing. They can't answer a single question. They may be geniuses, but who cares? You've got an office full of know-it-alls. Flee! Flee!

If I were CKO June 26 2000

If I were CKO

Suppose in some twisted alternative universe where cabbages are kings and Sylvester Stallone reads Torah six hours a day instead of lifting weights for that long, suppose I were made the Chief Knowledge Officer of some major corporation with an unlimited budget. What would I do? [Play dream transition music here...]

Number mysticism June 19 2000

I was flattered to be counted among the 100 or so people deemedschmooze-worthy enough to be invited to an executive dinner recently. After the absolutely scrumptious dessert (a self-healing slab of cheese cake) was cleared, we turned our chairs toward the dais where the VP of Something told us this month's official opening joke and began a 45-slide snore-a-thon, detailing the latest market survey by a well-known, highly respected firm, flaying away at the obvious until there wasn't a shred of flesh left on the bone. Pie charts followed bar charts with the inevitability of sucking sounds made by someone removing spinach from his front teeth. Minuscule, statistically irrelevant distinctions were trumpeted as revelations, and ambiguous polling questions were answered with outstanding certitude.

Three days to a smart company June 01 2000

I still get a knot in my stomach whenever I think about the Gartner Group form that used to arrive annually. The Gartners had this idea that they could gather detailed product information from all the vendors, populate a vast database and then charge Gartner's clients to spit out the products that most closely matched their requirements.

The new gravity May 30 2000

Q: What's the opposite of gravity? A: Levity.

In the new physics of the Web, this line from Firesign Theatre is no joke. If gravity is that which attracts bodies, what draws people to sites on the Web is their interest. If I have an interest in, say, the habits of nuns in the 13th century, I will find www.nunshabits.com/13th_century.html inherently fascinating. But, suppose I have no such interest. What would it take to give that site the gravity-producing mass of Jupiter or even of a collapsed star? Maybe if the site were giving away a million dollars, or if the site presented an interactive mystery, or if there were a really funny Habit of the Day joke, or if to get the information I had to slap a moving monkey, or if the nun's habits were being modeled by a certain Sister Pamela Anderson.

Goodness management May 22 2000

KM took off initially not as a technology, not as an application, not as a theory, not as a body of practice, but as a buzz word. Believe it or not, there was a time when the word "knowledge" actually struck the ear as charmingly out of place in the business context. In fact, much of KM's appeal came from the fact that knowledge had a venerable, philosophical history that gave our tawdry corporate lives a classical sheen.

Document architecture May 15 2000

We are not the first age to think of knowledge as a building. Up through the Middle Ages memory was often thought of as a palace with many rooms.[1] But with the Web, we've taken it several steps further. We are turning documents into buildings.

Awesome tech May 08 2000

"Sometimes I'm just amazed by what computers can do," said a friend of mine the other night. "I'm at a web site asking some server thousands of miles away to do a complex operation, and it's getting routed through dozens of other servers, and it's coming back to me in a second. And there are hundreds of other people being served by that web site as well. Unbelievable."

Trade shows? Gotta love/hate 'em May 05 2000

I have a love-hate relationship with trade shows. I love working a booth. I hate being an attendee. In fact, what I miss most about not working inside a company is being unable to spend eight hours a day for three days working a booth. Really.

Three days to a smart company May 01 2000

I still get a knot in my stomach whenever I think about the Gartner Group form that used to arrive annually. The Gartners had this idea that they could gather detailed product information from all the vendors, populate a vast database and then charge Gartner's clients to spit out the products that most closely matched their requirements.

The physics of buzz words April 24 2000

Buzz words have been emerging at Internet speed. By the time you arrive at a conference, the conference chairperson is explaining why the buzz word in the title is obsolete. We barely have time to launder our new cool T shirt before its clever buzz word pun ("I KM, I Saw, I Conquered," "Any Portal in a Data Storm" -- examples courtesy of the AutoBlurber 2000) marks us as pathetic has-beens who don't Get It.

Faith in technology April 17 2000

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" wrote Arthur C. Clarke. (Let's leave aside the fact that since "sufficiently" seems to mean "sufficient to make it indistinguishable from magic," the statement is tautologous and empty. Ah, it's nice to know that the years I spent in philosophy grad school have paid off in parenthetical, self-discarding asides such as this one.) Clarke was, presumably, trying to open our eyes to the wonders technology perform, something that we too often take for granted.

Trade shows? Gotta love/hate 'em April 09 2000

I have a love-hate relationships with trade shows. I love working a booth. I hate being an attendee. In fact, what I miss most about not working inside a company is not being able to spend 8 hours a day for 3 days working a booth. Really.

Geek Speak April 03 2000

Judging by the rather self-conscious Geek Pride Day celebration in Boston this weekend, here are things that geeks do:

Tragedy and sitcoms April 01 2000

“As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport."--King Lear

Those words strike us moderns as quaint. We look at the tattered king in the eye and say: What a gloomy gus! Give the old guy some Prozac!

The Seven Stages of Web Grief March 27 2000

The Seven Stages of Web Grief

In the 1970s, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross broke the taboo about speaking about death with her book On Death and Dying. The fact she went on to try to break the taboo about talking about "psychic" experiences involving angel guides without mentioning Haley Joel Osment does not diminish the service her book provided.

Business' hardest lesson March 20 2000

From a conversation with a sympathetic journalist writing about The Cluetrain Manifesto for a magazine whose audience is "human resources" professionals:

Strangers on the Web March 13 2000

The Web isn't a communications medium, much less a mall with shorter lines. It is (among other things) a new type of public. Nowhere is this clearer than in how it's re-writing the rules about strangers.

Are there conversations? March 06 2000

Business is a conversation, a set of global conversations. Knowledge workers are the people who are paid to have interesting conversations.

The visual display of knowledge March 01 2000

Computer displays suck. Anything else is a euphemism. (Oh, OK, I'll use the technical term for computer display quality: They exhibit suckitude.) Even your swell, new, 21-in. flat-screen beauty is totally inadequate for its main job: displaying text. Small type is unreadable, and large type has all the clarity of a newspaper read through a screen door. If computer displays were capable of displaying readable text, not only would your time on line be more pleasant, but you might actually consider reading long documents on your computer. And that in turn would make electronic book publishing feasible, unleashing the same market forces as MP3 has set loose in the music publishing world.

Tragedy and sitcoms February 28 2000

“As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.They kill us for their sport.”— King Lear

These words strike us moderns as quaint. We look at the tattered king in the eye and say: What a gloomy gus! Give the old guy some Prozac!

Web Denial February 21 2000

Most companies moving their businesses onto the Web are in denial. Andtheir Web sites -- internal and external -- show it.

The Joy of e-mail February 14 2000

The joy of e-mail

My father-in-law, whom I love, asked me if I'm getting much e-mail thesedays. I told him that I spend from 8am until noon doing nothing but e-mail. Ididn't tell him the full truth which is that I can easily go until 4pmbefore getting off the download-answer-read-send (yes, frequently in thatorder) StairMaster.

Cluetrain a must read so says its author February 11 2000

Dan, Dan, Dan. I love you like a brother (this is not necessarily a goodthing: ask my brother), but I'm afraid your readers won't be able to tellfrom your review that you actually like our little book. So, purely as aguide to the reader who doesn't have the pleasure of knowing you, let meprovide an exegesis of your review. And by "exegesis" I of course mean "whatyou should have said."

THE VISUAL DISPLAY OF KNOWLEDGE January 31 2000

Computer displays suck. Anything else is a euphemism. (Oh, ok, I'll use the technical term for computer display quality: they exhibit suckitude.) Even your swell new 21" flat-screen beauty is totally inadequate for it's main job: displaying text. Small type is unreadable and large type has all the clarity of a newspaper read through a screen door. If computer displays were capable of displaying readable text not only would your time on line be more pleasant, but you might actually consider reading long documents on your computer. And this in turn would make electronic book publishing feasible, unleashing the same market forces as MP3 has set loose in the music publishing world.

Libertarian Conversations January 15 2000

I have nothing against Libertarians except that many of them seem drawn to it because it gives them a point of view that lets them utter statements they think are controversial but which are merely wrong.

INVISIBLE PCs January 10 2000

The pod people are taking over. The latest victim: PC/Computing which used to be a decent end-user magazine and now is Yet Another business rag with articles on how to increase your ROI by cheating on your spreadsheets and 15 ways to make your Office documents really boring.

The Politics Of Merely January 03 2000

Beware the word "merely" and its cousins "simply," "just" and "only." They are among the most political of words. And they're assassins.

Are there conversations? January 01 2000

Business is a conversation, a set of global conversations. Knowledge workers are the people who are paid to have interesting conversations.

1999
Predictions, Lists And Violence December 20 1999

'Tis the season for predictions and lists. In fact, we're all thoroughly sick of them already. Frankly, given a choice between having yet another glass of mayonnaise-thick eggnog and hearing another set of predictions, I'd go for the eggnog. And that's saying a lot.

Millennial Forecast: Continued Ignorance December 13 1999

At this auspicious time, we are all required by local statute and industry injunction to pontificate about the future. So, permit me to make my year-end, century-end and millennium-end forecasts.

All Hail The Lurkers December 06 1999

Lurking is the art of staying silent while conversation happens all around you. Off the Web, lurking is sinister. On the Net, lurking is the best way to enter a conversation..

The Undernet  December 05 1999

I hate to be the last to hear about a buzzword, so when Dr. Gerri Sinclair,CEO of NCompass Labs (www.ncompass.ca) asked the audience at a recentDocumation conference if they'd heard the term "undernet," I was hoping somehands would remain down along with mine. Indeed, Gerri seems to be ahead ofthe curve on this one; AltaVista can't find any interesting instances of theterm.

Tacit Knowledge November 22 1999

To heck with tacit knowledge. (Go for tacit documents instead.)

The originating goal of knowledge management was to capture the tacitknowledge that differentiates your best technical support person (forexample) from all the rest. You see, your best techie carries around in herover-heated brain some set of "knowledge," a special type of extra-specialcontent which she somehow has neglected to ever make explicit. If only wecould mine this tacit mental gold and share it among all of our tech supportstaff!

Internet White-Out November 15 1999

The Internet is full of misinformation, lies, statistics, and altered photographs. The famous are slandered, the gorgeous are compromised, the unknowns make up stuff just to be noticed. We all know that. But the Web also has a mechanism so valuable that it founded Western civilization as we know it.(Have I mentioned that the Internet -- and columns about it -- are also full of exaggerations?)

Branding and Knowledge  November 09 1999

If people had brands, you'd think they were awfully shallow. "Hi, I'm Arnie,the Place for Puns," "Hello, I'm Alicia, the Melodious Voice Gal." So whyis branding any better for companies?

The right solution November 01 1999

Please raise your hand if you're a software vendor and you've said that your "solution" delivers the right information to the right people at the right time. Add 10 points if you ever added, in a knowing tone, " ... and in the right way." Now go sit in the corner and think about what you did.

IQPORT.COM October 25 1999

At the recent KMWorld '99 conference in Dallas I was able to spend some quality time with two of the key people behind a fascinating site, www.iqport.com. I loved the implementation and can see many advantages to the site, yet I found myself becoming withdrawn and belligerent, a state I usually only achieve either when someone says something nice about me or if other people are having fun.

Communicating Information  October 18 1999

We think there's a strong difference between the two. Information consists of statements about the world--preferably true statements. Communication is a connection between what's going on inside of me and what's going on inside of you. Information is true no matter who says it--a fact is a fact is a fact. Communication is personal, individual.

The Right Solution October 12 1999

Please raise your hand if you're a software vendor and you've ever once said that your "solution" delivers the right information to the right people at the right time. Add ten points if you ever added, in a knowing tone, "...and in the right way." Now go sit in the corner and think about what you did.

Hermetic Dashboard, Hermetic Microsoft October 01 1999

I've griped about Microsoft's Digital Dashboard (DD) before, but, heck, the right to gripe endlessly about the rich, powerful and obnoxious is the very basis of democracy.

Pornographic intranets October 01 1999

I've griped about Microsoft's Digital Dashboard (DD) before, but, heck, the right to gripe endlessly about the rich, powerful and obnoxious is the very basis of democracy.

David Weinberger speaks: September 27 1999

The Web is transforming documents into Web pages ... yadda yadda yadda.Yeah, sure. But, as the Web continues its relentless yet unpredictablerewriting of our institutions and beliefs, it's going to transformbusiness documents so profoundly that they won't really be documents atall.

Convergence or Hole? September 20 1999

I love being on panels because inevitably I say something stupid or half-assed and then I get anarticle out of it in which I get to say what I should have said in the first place.

Jetform and the Standards Game September 01 1999

About a month ago, JetForm was on the road explaining why its proposed XML standard for electronic forms deserved the world's support and possibly applause. Now JetForm is back on the road explaining why its integrated, cradle-to-grave solution for electronic forms management is the best thing to happen to its customers since the invention of paper money. Is this a contradiction? Yes. Is it unusual? Not at all. Is it inevitable. Just maybe.

The spontaneity of voice  September 01 1999

About a month ago, JetForm was on the road explaining why its proposed XML standard for electronic forms deserved the world's support and possibly applause. Now JetForm is back on the road explaining why its integrated, cradle-to-grave solution for electronic forms management is the best thing to happen to its customers since the invention of paper money. Is this a contradiction? Yes. Is it unusual? Not at all. Is it inevitable. Just maybe.

Traffic and commerce September 01 1999

About a month ago, JetForm was on the road explaining why its proposed XML standard for electronic forms deserved the world's support and possibly applause. Now JetForm is back on the road explaining why its integrated, cradle-to-grave solution for electronic forms management is the best thing to happen to its customers since the invention of paper money. Is this a contradiction? Yes. Is it unusual? Not at all. Is it inevitable. Just maybe.

How to be smart September 01 1999

About a month ago, JetForm was on the road explaining why its proposed XML standard for electronic forms deserved the world's support and possibly applause. Now JetForm is back on the road explaining why its integrated, cradle-to-grave solution for electronic forms management is the best thing to happen to its customers since the invention of paper money. Is this a contradiction? Yes. Is it unusual? Not at all. Is it inevitable. Just maybe.

Pornographic intranets  August 01 1999

Pornography is fascinating by definition: it's what draws our sexual gaze even though we know it shouldn't. That's what differentiates pornography from erotica; pornography is always "dirty" whereas erotica is pornography we tell ourselves isn't dirty.

The Forms of Marketing August 01 1999

Pornography is fascinating by definition: it's what draws our sexual gaze even though we know it shouldn't. That's what differentiates pornography from erotica; pornography is always "dirty" whereas erotica is pornography we tell ourselves isn't dirty.

The Knowledge Conversation July 01 1999

Is knowledge an asset?

It'd be nice if it were because, not only do we know how to manage our assets, we also can tell that an asset has value. Otherwise we wouldn't call it an asset, would we, hmm?

Messages in Bottles June 01 1999

The moment the UPS guy left and I pulled the KayPro out of the box and turned it on -- this was in the early 80s -- I was hooked. Knowing nothing, I wanted to know everything and so, after a few months, I was poking around in the high memory of WordStar with a hex dump utility that showed me on the right the hexadecimal number of each byte, and on the left the ASCII equivalent if any.

Flash! Press releases don't work June 01 1999

The moment the UPS guy left and I pulled the KayPro out of the box and turned it on -- this was in the early 80s -- I was hooked. Knowing nothing, I wanted to know everything and so, after a few months, I was poking around in the high memory of WordStar with a hex dump utility that showed me on the right the hexadecimal number of each byte, and on the left the ASCII equivalent if any.

Microsoft's Digital Dashboard Deception June 01 1999

The moment the UPS guy left and I pulled the KayPro out of the box and turned it on -- this was in the early 80s -- I was hooked. Knowing nothing, I wanted to know everything and so, after a few months, I was poking around in the high memory of WordStar with a hex dump utility that showed me on the right the hexadecimal number of each byte, and on the left the ASCII equivalent if any.

Floundering Morals June 01 1999

The moment the UPS guy left and I pulled the KayPro out of the box and turned it on -- this was in the early 80s -- I was hooked. Knowing nothing, I wanted to know everything and so, after a few months, I was poking around in the high memory of WordStar with a hex dump utility that showed me on the right the hexadecimal number of each byte, and on the left the ASCII equivalent if any.

Re: mission statement May 01 1999

It's way too easy to make fun of mission statements. Of course, that doesn't stop me. But when I did so recently -- at http://www.cluetrain.com/clues.html -- a couple of readers responded in useful ways, i.e., slamming me silly.

Zero-to-One MARKETING May 01 1999

It's way too easy to make fun of mission statements. Of course, that doesn't stop me. But when I did so recently -- at http://www.cluetrain.com/clues.html -- a couple of readers responded in useful ways, i.e., slamming me silly.

The desktop is a portal May 01 1999

It's way too easy to make fun of mission statements. Of course, that doesn't stop me. But when I did so recently -- at http://www.cluetrain.com/clues.html -- a couple of readers responded in useful ways, i.e., slamming me silly.

Let me count the KM ways May 01 1999

It's way too easy to make fun of mission statements. Of course, that doesn't stop me. But when I did so recently -- at http://www.cluetrain.com/clues.html -- a couple of readers responded in useful ways, i.e., slamming me silly.

KM: Why do we care? May 01 1999

It's way too easy to make fun of mission statements. Of course, that doesn't stop me. But when I did so recently -- at http://www.cluetrain.com/clues.html -- a couple of readers responded in useful ways, i.e., slamming me silly.

Ride the Cluetrain April 01 1999

There's something big going on. You know it. Your friends know it. Your coworkers know it. Your customers know it.

Business' Big Secret April 01 1999

There's something big going on. You know it. Your friends know it. Your coworkers know it. Your customers know it.

Webby Collaboration April 01 1999

There's something big going on. You know it. Your friends know it. Your coworkers know it. Your customers know it.

Filling out forms for XML March 01 1999

Just as television diminished theatre, and cars diminished the scenery through which we drive, XML -- certainly an important innovation -- will diminish an important part of our current experience: writing documents. Instead, we'll be filling in more and more forms.

The lowerachy of business intelligence March 01 1999

Just as television diminished theatre, and cars diminished the scenery through which we drive, XML -- certainly an important innovation -- will diminish an important part of our current experience: writing documents. Instead, we'll be filling in more and more forms.

The Importance of Being Wrong March 01 1999

Just as television diminished theatre, and cars diminished the scenery through which we drive, XML -- certainly an important innovation -- will diminish an important part of our current experience: writing documents. Instead, we'll be filling in more and more forms.

Idea Management February 01 1999

"Oy, just what we need: another distinction!

I'm just getting awfully confused as "knowledge" gets applied to everything from the relationship of beer and diapers to Aristotle's Metaphysics.

Metadata is monarch February 01 1999

"Oy, just what we need: another distinction!

I'm just getting awfully confused as "knowledge" gets applied to everything from the relationship of beer and diapers to Aristotle's Metaphysics.

Narrative Knowledge February 01 1999

"Oy, just what we need: another distinction!

I'm just getting awfully confused as "knowledge" gets applied to everything from the relationship of beer and diapers to Aristotle's Metaphysics.

The Turing test for business February 01 1999

"Oy, just what we need: another distinction!

I'm just getting awfully confused as "knowledge" gets applied to everything from the relationship of beer and diapers to Aristotle's Metaphysics.

1998
KM & the human element May 11 1998

Recently I had the honor to keynote a PC Docs/KMWorld seminar on knowledge management. About 120 people attended the presentation, all with the common goal to learn more about that elusive thing called knowledge management.

DM: as foundational as the slab under your house March 16 1998

I love NHL hockey. So when Optex Systems, Ernst & Young and Documentum invited several of the KMWorld editorial staff to a suite at the Blues/ Mapleleafs hockey game in St. Louis, who was I to argue? The event centered on the new paradigms of knowledge management and allowed users, consultants and the press to mingle and share their views. Of course, it was done overlooking the ice and the board-smashing, fast-play excitement that epitomizes hockey.

1997 BAI Retail Delivery Conference: Serving banking's new consumer March 16 1998

I love NHL hockey. So when Optex Systems, Ernst & Young and Documentum invited several of the KMWorld editorial staff to a suite at the Blues/ Mapleleafs hockey game in St. Louis, who was I to argue? The event centered on the new paradigms of knowledge management and allowed users, consultants and the press to mingle and share their views. Of course, it was done overlooking the ice and the board-smashing, fast-play excitement that epitomizes hockey.

Ready to start a technology project: A best practices review can help you get centered February 23 1998

OK, so after three years of whining, begging and pleading, someone somewhere in the echelons of management has heard your cry to apply some technology to effect your business strategy. Maybe you're drowning in a sea of paper and need help, or your response times to answer customer questions is measured in financial quarters as opposed to minutes. Either way you've gotten what you asked for--an opportunity to make a difference. So where do you start? How about trying a best practices review?