Search Or Communities …


No, i dont think they are mutually exclusive. Interesting post by Nirmala … where she is posing the question … about what is it that lets your choose between google and wikipedia? to my mind, not much … or, to put it differently, when i search on google, more often than not, wikipedia results are among the first few to appear.

Now, this is interesting. Nirmala mentions someone being of the opinion that the rise of social networking would spell the end of search. While, on the face of it, this sounds like a tempting assumption, this is probably a bit of an oversimplification. Let me put it this way … if i am looking for something, i search. If someone on my network has found something, and i find it useful, i go through it. The opinion here seems to be a bit too much of a stretch, if you ask me.

Lets look at it this way … social networking is about knowing who you know, and this leads to (more often than not) knowing what you know. And the two, to my mind, are related, but different things. What could happen (and this is something i have been looking at, for some time now …) is that search could change … in the way tools enable users to interact with them. One of the possibilities is the availability of aggregators, or the possibility of searching for opinions.

In other words, and this is something i have been chatting about on the KM India Forum as well (as i am sure, my friend Sumeet Anand would agree …), that “collaboration”, and what i like to call “codification” are complementary, and not competitive in terms of the value they can add to the larger KM initiatives, and stressing on one, to the deteiment of the other, is not something which is nice. And if we agree with this, we would also tend to agree with the idea that content is an integral part of the knowledge inventory of the organization, and as long as this is so, search (in some form or the other), must also be around.

Where, then, does this bring social networking? To my mind, social networking is about bringing value which was not possible with the “KM 1.0” paradigm of the 90s. This is more about bringing the people aspect into the entire way of doing things, which was lacking. Now, one could argue that documents originate from people, and hence, looking at the people aspect should be enough to enable us to not look at the “codification” aspect, but the point remains that its not possible for you to know everyone in the organization (even if you are working in a mid-sized organization), and hence, to some extent, it is imperative to abstract knowledge, and this is where the content, and the search aspects come in.

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6 Comments on “Search Or Communities …”

  1. Nimmy says:

    hey atul…thanks for the food for thought. there are so many ways in which we can interpret this whole debate. i agree that repositories will not go away…but here’s what may happen….i start paying attention only to content that is recommended by someone from my network. i dont search for content….i happen to look at it because someone brought it to my notice. (different from a situation that involves problem solving – where, once again, i may ask my fellow KMer to lead me to content rather than search for it). i am not sure if you would agree with me…but i think the idea is this….– let’s assume that i have an exhaustive network of KMers (mostly people who are worth listening to) via my blog, RSS, linkedin, facebook, plaxo and twitter. ok?– somehow or the other, i get to hear about the latest tidbit, content, article, thought, idea from one or more of these networks. thus the content comes to me…rather than my going and searching for it! i dont happen to be using google…for i invariably get links from twitter and RSS to anything that happens to be worthwhile!! – and when it comes to reactive situations like problem-solving, let’s assume i once again rely on my LinkedIn queries and prefer to look up what is recommended by my network rather than google it!so…you see where this is going? less reliance on google (search) and more reliance on networks to get to content…at least, this is what my interpretation is! 🙂PS: The irony is that there will have to be someone – maybe 1% – of the network that does some original research (and search ;-)) and passes it on to the rest! what this implies is the world may increasingly run on the original ideas of a few…which may of course be modified by others and slowly change shape.

  2. Atul says:

    Nirmala, you paint an interesting picture. but to achieve something like this, i would think that the size and nature of your network would have to be vastly different from what it is today.for example, more often than not, networks tend to bring up stuff you werent even thinking of, but were interested in.in the scenario you paint, the assumption is that when you are looking for something, someone in your network will be able to point you to this. this could be tricky, because this would require you to know who in your network can help you … of course, you could always ask, but unless the nature of the network changes quite substantially from what it is today, this seems a bit tricky?

  3. Atul says:

    and yes, i totally agree … search is not going away! 🙂 and at any rate, content isnt!

  4. Anjali says:

    hey guys you are forgetting the inherent curiousity in our nature. Inspite of recommendations don’t we dig for more especially on the internet. Recos in there place and searches in there place we need both. Quick fixes with recos and Research needs search:)! Google is GOD. Are their recruiters reading this ;). I’m game LOL.

  5. Nimmy says:

    yes, Atul….the network needs to be really good for us to get more out of it than what we would get out of just our own efforts. to be honest, these days, i seem to be getting to know what’s happening from my feeds and twitter alone. the days when i step out of the network and do my own research are rare….simply because i dont find the time to do everything. i seem to be happy with the knowledge coming out of the network(s). but there will be days and occasions when i forget the network for a moment and dive into wikipedia and google. i think it’s about shifting choices more than about disappearing choices and i guess all of us agree on that. (people write exaggerated articles about something dying for obvious reasons ;-)).angeli…!! cool to see you here…akin to dropping into atul’s place without realizing it was not a one on one but a party.. :-). you’re, of course, right….curiosity and the availability of time will definitely take us to other areas outside of what we find on the network. that’s exactly when something original changes shape and evolves…! and sometimes, it is quite true that we are the ones to start the party…! no denying such acts! 🙂

  6. Atul says:

    i definitely agree with you, Nimmy … its not about disappearing choices, but rather, widening choices … and in this i include the network, search, and maybe (this is actually something i would like to see … maybe google is listening?) … aggregators, and a search for opinions, rather than just content.where this comes from is, that today, you can search for what people are writing, but if i were to look for what people are thinking on something (say, a new product launch?), i would have to sift through a lot of stuff … maybe i will blog about this! 🙂


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