Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business – Knowledge Discovery

In the case of the Web 2.0 Watermill, there are primarily four areas where technology is beginning to facilitate a vastly improved Internet: knowledge collection, knowledge discovery, knowledge building, and knowledge sharing.

– Ken Yarmosh, Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business

My series on Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business has been defunct for quite some time (I was hoping to finish it back in January), so I am determined to complete it before writing on a handful of other topics. First, a refresher.

I began by explaining what Web 2.0 is not – it’s not the next version of the web or a singular technical demarcation point. Instead, it is an effort to refocus and refine the web as we know it. As I articulated it,

Web 2.0 is an attempt to build the web around people instead of technology.

From there, I gave a high-level discussion about what I call the Web 2.0 Watermill. The point of this diagram is to provide a simple framework for the types of activities that Web 2.0 technology facilitates:

(note: There has been some good discussion around these sorts of ideas in the past few days, albeit from a more a technical perspective. See Ajit Jaokar’s thoughts and Tim O’Reilly’s response)

Knowledge Discovery
Social bookmarking is a tool that allows people to “tag” and share their bookmarks online. The tag associated with the bookmark is user-defined and helps classify the link. Tagging the link is not unlike placing it in a specific “Favorites” folder of a web browser, except that tags are generally much more specific and of course, the links are available via the Internet (see my social bookmarking profile). The most popular social bookmarking service to-date is Delicious, which was purchased by Yahoo! in December 2005.

Social Bookmarking, Enterprise Use, and Knowledge Discovery
IBM has an enterprise level social bookmarking tool called dogear. Geoff Harder previously reported that IBM employees created 17,000 links in a 2-3 month period.

How does this tie into knowledge discovery? Well, imagine HR using an employee’s social bookmarking profile to help place them into their next assignment. Or consider a manager reading an executive level summary of the types of links his employees are viewing.

Web 2.0 makes it easier to discover new knowledge. Social bookmarking is just one brief example of how that might occur. Information, data, and content (generally referred to as “knowledge”) are purposefully made more accessible and community based.

IBM is definitely a leader in implementing an enterprise based solution for social bookmarking. But knowledge discovery might be as simple as discovering those star employees (“knowledge workers”) via what they are writing on their blogs or the contributions they’ve made on internal wikis.

As Web 2.0 continues to mature, knowledge discovery is going to be one of the more exciting areas to watch. Real time collaboration will be simplified. Managers will have the opportunity to be smarter and thus make better decisions. Of course, technology alone won’t enable that – it will only facilitate it.

Next time – Knowledge Sharing