Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Communication, collaboration, context, content

In the world of architecture, there are "producers of information" and "consumers of information."
  • "Producers" capture and organize knowledge
  • "Consumers" discover and use knowledge
Communication of knowledge is inherently difficult, mediated by always-contextual codes, norms, culture, and perceptions. Translating knowledge from one context to another, like translating any language involves not just basic grammar and syntax rules, but also issues of meaning and intent that are contextual and subjective.

I find I need two (2) separate communication channels for conveying content and context:
  1. blog
  2. knowledgebase
Blogs are temporally-driven. Frequent postings are necessary because, literally, you're writing a journal. Blogs are read starting with the most recent entry first and then reading backwards in reverse chronological order. Blogs need to be short and pithy with a sense of candor, urgency, controversy, and timeliness.

Knowledgebases require intelligently-structured ways of organizing information based on models. Knowledgebase models ought to be simple, intuitive, highly-visual, and easily-navigable.

Context determines how content is interpreted. Common hierarchical classifications facilitate communication and collaboration.

Most effective are visual models that combine context, hierarchical category trees, and simple navigation. Let's look at an example.

I'm a member of an IASA (International Association of software Architects) working group that's attempting to define a taxonomy for describing architecture.

To view the IASA Architecture 'Resources' Repository, use the following access information:
Username: architecture
Password: itguide
Start by moving your mouse pointer over the outer rim of the bookcase graphic and then clicking when 'Architecture' is highlighted.

Next, click on the yellow book at the bottom left of the top shelf, the one labeled "Frameworks". Also, click and explore the books labeled "Archetypes" and "Patterns".

Blogs are journals. Knowledgebases are structured. Both are valuable in transferring knowledge.

One similarity between blogs and knowledgebases is how, in both cases, information is published onto a web page. The main difference is that knowledgebase web pages get continually rewritten and refined in an evolutionary fashion as new knowledge is amassed and organized.


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