Saturday, November 19, 2005

Every Blogger Needs a Knowledgebase (or two)

A blog is an ongoing, continuously running monologue occasionally interrupted by brief comments from readers.

Writing a blog is like knitting a yarn, telling a story, spinning a tale, re-telling somebody else's story, responding to some event, reacting to someone else's opinion, promoting a particular point of view, and so on and so forth. It meanders like a flowing stream, circuitously winding every which way. Topics can and do range all over the map. Continuity from one posting to the next is never all too important.

A knowledgebase, on the other hand, is like a dynamic, structured, virtual book containing organized collections of information that are constantly undergoing refinements, revisions, and extensions as new information is synthesized and old information occasionally refactored.

A mountain top is a more apt metaphor for a knowledgebase. The creator is a "subject matter expert" who has scaled to the summit in search of understanding and comprehension of the knowledgebase's underlying model.

The ability to effectively present information to others is, itself, a craft, much like authoring a book is a craft.

A knowledgebase starts with a model or a set of models.
  • Models are defined in terms of structure and context.
  • Information is organized and described in terms of abstractions.
  • Information is structured and presented based on hierarchically navigable category trees.
  • Relationships can be linked between models.
A knowledgebase is like a list of "best of links" to resources, including category descriptions, and lists of related objects.

A knowledgebase has as its #1 job the transfer of knowledge. There are producers and consumers. Producers write. Consumers read.

Category descriptions are often like PowerPoint presentations. Category trees can be organized in all kinds of ways, with hierarchical representations imposing context.

Categories can include lists that can track all kinds of objects (i.e., abstractions) including: products & vendors, services, people, projects, ...

Items on lists can be visually highlighted using legend icons as context cues.

My Blog and Knowledgebases

I write the ITscout Blog. In addition, I am responsible for two knowledgebases:
  1. IASA 'Resources' Repository

  2. ITscout
Knowledgebases are fundamentally quite different than blogs. Structure, organization, and order are all of paramount importance. Models and context are king -- they rule.

The IASA 'Resources' Repository is accessed using the following login information:
This knowledgebase includes a diverse collection of resources related to Architecture.

ITscout is a knowledgebase that describes and organizes the universe of IT products based on a 3-layer, 4-model Technology Architecture framework.

The bottom layer, IT Infrastructure, provides the base platform for computing and communication -- two sides of the same coin.
See IT Infrastructure

The middle layer is Applications which can be built or bought.
See Application Development
See COTS Applications
Applications are layered on top of IT Infrastructure.

The top layer, Data, enables business intelligence.
See Business Intelligence
Data is layered on top of Applications.

Improvements to knowledgebases is a function of quality and quantity of feedback. Knowledgebases are not wikis which work fine in situations where information can be organized alphabetically, like the most famous wiki of them all, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Knowledgebases do not place control of structure, organization, and presentation into the hands of the public. That's not to say that knowledgebases can't include editable content like a wiki.

Knowledgebase models are like forests of category trees with graphical representations that can transfer knowledge almost through visual osmosis. The structure and organization of knowledgebase models are much more complex than simple alphabetical orderings. Classification hierarchies are structured using multi-level category trees. In the end, a good knowledgebase is like a good reference book, and even better, it's constantly kept current and up-to-date, forever growing and evolving.


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