Connecting Knowledge Management and Discovery

I attended the Taxonomy Bootcamp and KMWorld Joint Keynote by Peter Morville on “Connecting Knowledge Management and Discovery: Search 3.0”. Peter delivered an engaging overview of many aspects that are key to successful Knowledge Management and Discovery. Some of his points included:

  • Good search and discovery being achieved through collaboration of people with different skills and an appreciation of Information Architecture focusing on business goals as well as user needs
  • For website design it is critically important from the point of view of findability to have multiple paths to information such as alphabetical indexes, search engines, topical schemes and site maps due to users looking for information for different reasons and having different approaches to finding that information
  • Information Architecture and website design is linked to a honeycomb of different qualities. A site needs to be useful, valuable, desirable, usable, findable, accessible and credible. These qualities are all interactive and interdependent.
  • The relationship between search and Knowledge Management is very important. Good quality content will be used and found, which encourages maintenance of the quality of this content
  • When developing portals, Information Architects need to think about taxonomies and vocabularies. Content is more dynamic these days and we need to look at work done in both the collaboration and 2.0 space. A critical component of portals is Enterprise search. This needs federated search solutions that bridge the gaps between all repositories, including external websites and databases
  • Any architect (physical or digital) needs to have one foot in the past and one in the future. We need to learned lessons from the past, but at the same time we need to understand that systems will be used into years in the future and will become the legacy systems of the future.
  • One interesting concept that Peter talked about was that of the disciplines of way finding (finding our way in the physical world) and information retrieval are converging. Examples of this are Google World and GPS devices that help to converge mobile devices with location awareness. But just because we can do this, do we really want to?
  • People are becoming findable objects as well as other things. It will probably be about 30 years before the Internet of objects is fully realised via technologies such as RFID. This technology can help in many aspects, the example given was that of Cisco allowing the tagging and locating of high value objects such as wheelchairs left in rooms in hospitals. These technologies will help with costs and customer service
  • A balance needs to be found with the web 2.0 movement, but we shouldn’t throw away ideas of Information Architecture and vocabulary development. In 10 years time we are still going to be using a search box. This means we will still need taxonomies to provide options for browsing navigation and filtering. Search and browsing will continue to work hand in hand.
  • The process of search is iterative and interactive and over the course of a search a query can evolve. Search is also one of the most important ways in which we learn. We need to recognise it is a complex adaptive system. It is not just about the interface or the user. We need to know how to get systems to work together, remove outdated content and design interfaces to help users for when they get stuck. Narrow down the results etc.

Three key questions when redeveloping a website are:Peter Morville

  • Can users find our website?
  • Can users find their way around our website?
  • Can they find information and their way around the site despite the website?

Design Patterns used in website creation:

  • Best Bets – Opportunity to query disambiguation
  • Federated Search – Searching across multiple database and locations. Users often don’t know which database to search in
  • Faceted Navigation – Bringing search and browsing together and leveraging taxonomies and vocabularies. Need to take a decision on whether to push navigation to users or show it in a more subtle way

Ultimately we need to expand what we think about as search. For example Google Books dramatically expands what we think about the searchable internet. Other examples are the searching of video and podcasts through sites such as Everyzing.

There are lots of possible futures for search. User experience design helps to identify future concepts. Search is a wicked problem. The only way to move forward is by sharing and working together.

Peter has made his slides available from the keynote and blogs over at www.findability.org

 

September 2008

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