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Knowing What Knowledge to Manage: What Knowledge is Worth Documenting, What Documents are Worth Keeping, and When is Documentation Too Much? What kind.

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Presentation on theme: "Knowing What Knowledge to Manage: What Knowledge is Worth Documenting, What Documents are Worth Keeping, and When is Documentation Too Much? What kind."— Presentation transcript:

1 Knowing What Knowledge to Manage: What Knowledge is Worth Documenting, What Documents are Worth Keeping, and When is Documentation Too Much? What kind of knowledge is important to document, and what kind of knowledge ends up being intellectual clutter? When is it important to keep documents, and when are they better discarded? Organizational setting, task-based users/patrons Converting how-to knowledge into procedural instructions in some kind of manual is difficult (Brown & Duguid 1991) – But still has value (KM) Studies focus on nature of knowledge, individual and group learning, culture, identity, communities of practice, teams, and organizational structures Ingbert Schmidt

2 Study Design & Method Union of Graduate Students – High turnover organization: active members average 1 year – ~2700 members; ~ active members Large archive, active storage, minimal retrieval – 6-8 filing cabinets; shelves of binders; 40 Gb of files mostly text & images; Google Docs; Dropbox; Mailman Archive – Bargaining & Grievance archives are actively used. Examined intergenerational preservation of how-to knowledge by studying knowledge communication practices around documents Participant observation, unstructured interviews, document analysis Sociotechnical (Ecological) Design approach

3 Findings & Recommendations Original documents are more valuable than making summaries or other manuals (G) – Unpredictable how documents will be useful – Originals facilitate multiple uses, summaries are optimized for a single use – Originals easier, more meaningful to read (intent) What is far less important than How! (B) – People know the what, they do it everyday – They read what documents for clues as to How – What is only important for specialized purposes – May be site specific

4 Findings & Recommendations Contd Archives organized around user tasks are best (B) Start creating archives while your knowledge acquisition is fresh – Because you remember what it was like to learn it People are primary way of finding documents (G) – Due to difficulty of subject classification, when search archive, either census or meaningful sampling needed Documents need to be talked through to be useful, so pair them with people (S,Sw) – Or context obtained in some other way Information overload: right chunks of wrong info better than all info at once; discard, try again (Sw)

5 Findings & Recommendations Contd Creating the manual still might be a good idea – Opportunity for synthesis and reflection (S) – Collects all the pieces in one place – Repurpose for later use Be careful when describing the orgs history – Say: This is what we did, and this is why it worked – Hear: We need to do things this way because it worked Conclusions? – Archive (selected) originals as exemplars – Select documents that show How over What – Dont write a manual, talk through exemplars – Organize documents based on task structure


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