The classic knowledge management effort has to do with building or improving a knowledge repository. That includes collecting information as well as making it simple to find/use once collected.
With blogs on the rise and Twitter blowing up in a matter of a few years, information has begun to be consumed not from repositories or web pages, but from streams and communities. End user focus has turned to finding the right streams and the right communities that meet our needs at any given point in time.
Once established, we can sit back and let the content come to us. We monitor streams that are more important to us more closely. While we are not paying attention, the stream continues to flow by and that is OK. If we really want to, we can search later. But, looking back will likely only be necessary/warranted when the information we are seeking is extremely niche. New information is constantly flowing.
This shift in approach can be somewhat alarming to people at first (see “Evolution of Twitter Use“). It shouldn’t be. We have been consuming TV in this way our whole lives. TV streams are still going by even when we are not watching. DVR’s help us capture parts of the stream and repeats give us second chances (like RT’s in Twitter). How many magazine subscriptions do you have? How many of issues do you read? Same thing.
There are two main reasons the shift to streams is taking place:
- technology – RSS is not the easiest thing to use. Twitter apps and other stream readers (eg. Google Reader) are making it easier for even the most novice to watch information streams. This will continue to improve.
- volume – there is so much information streaming now that we can easily find a set of streams on ANY topic. The trick is whittling it down to the few that we have time to read and interact with.
I have recently been fascinated by Twitter’s ability to form communities of people. I believe the next iteration in this knowledge management revolution will be communities forming around certain streams on a large scale. Hopefully those communities will be open and hyper-connected to other similar communities.