Get up to speed on K-Logging

July 2nd, 2002

Every company can benefit from K-Logging.

Projects collect and compile hard data and soft knowledge into reports. Often the details of the lessons that are learned through the project are distilled out during the reporting process, such that subsequent projects tend only to benefit from the accrued soft knowledge if largely the same team is reassembled.

Knowledge Logging (K-Logging) is a bottom-up approach to sharing the soft knowledge that is built during the course of a project. Knowledge is both logged and shared continuously at the source, using content management tools which allow easy updating of a shared website. Style is informal, freeform and conversational and the focus is on collaboration and discussion.

The thinking-out-loud style of writing a K-log journal of project activities allows every part of the process to remain available during and after the project. This allows detailed review and enables latecomers to the project to get up to speed. The dead-end attempts that provide the best opportunity for learning are documented and kept for others to learn from.

Since knowledge is continuously shared, teams that are spread out get to share best practices without waiting for summary or review. The knowledge website can also act as a portal to centralize access to other essential project information – scheduling, maps, data storage, email, etc.

There are many tools available for this kind of distributed knowledge management. While prices can range from free to tens of thousands of dollars, cost does not necessarily imply value. There are many open-source content management tools which suit this purpose well.

A good flexible system can be built with Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP and any of a number of content management systems – all open-source software with no licensing costs. Dedicated hardware needs are modest – a used name-brand Tier-1 Pentium-II 300+MHz can be had for less than CDN$200 – a second such machine could provide standby and backup. A high-speed internet connection would be necessary although bandwidth needs would be low. SSL (https) can provide end-to-end encryption for secure access.

Some upfront analysis would be necessary to determine layout, functionality, permissions. Training needs are small – users access the site via a browser and are presented with straightforward editing screens. Ongoing care and feeding needs would depend on selected feature set.

A simple collaboration tool could be built in a day with no capital outlay using space on an inexpensive hosting provider for US$20 or less per month.

A custom knowledge portal could be built with cdn$500 hardware/software budget and consulting hours to suit the needs.

Here is a short and by no means exhaustive list of some of the tools that can be used for K-Logging (and all sorts of content management):

moveable type
radio userland


KLogs group on yahoo
David Gurteen is a good resource for all things related to Knowledge Management. KM is a much bigger topic than K-logging.
Steven Vore has a good KM-based blog
John Robb is on top of the whole K-logs thing at Userland
Pat Delaney uses K-logging to coordinate educators.

Finally, Phil Wolff has a great article about how K-Logging can solve many of the problems that companies face with knowledge management.

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