Thursday, September 25, 2008

You've got Mail....to You've got Knowledge

This comes at a controversial time - a time when many KMers I know are on a roll against Emails. While I quite agree that Emails are meant for one to one communication more than anything else (especially not for collaboration), I shall not rule out emails as a good source of an individual's knowledge as yet. In fact, increasingly, there are tools that are adopting the approach of analysing email flow from and to a person in order to assess her connectivity, popularity in terms of knowledge sharing, and expertise levels. This, ironically, is providing inputs for determining social networks, identifying potential communities, expertise identification etc.

My intention of writing this post was to share an idea that just came to me. This is a simple and obvious idea of cross leveraging on the comparatively recent phenomenon of tags and tag clouds. Its underlying intention is to help people manage knowledge via emails as well as share it. I think it would be a good idea to introduce tags for email management in applications like Outlook. (Gmail already allows users to attach tags to their mails.) Default tags could be suggested by the application (based on the sender of the email, the subject and the contents). Additionally, the user should be allowed to edit the tag list. Tag clouds should then be created on a dynamic basis so as to allow for a visual image of the individual's interests and further aid the easy location of knowledge via the tag cloud links. And, yes, these tag clouds could be made public and searchable as well. Another point I almost forgot to mention - users should be allowed to mark certain emails as public (and such emails should be copied and pushed into a corporate email tag cloud via links).


I think this would be an example of adapting to the culture rather than trying to change it radically!

9 comments:

Prashant Sree said...

You bowled me over in this article !!
I didnt have much clue about the tag or the tag clouds. Those clouds just flew over me ;). yet Mail as a source of knowledge is something which i could relate to.

Overall, i understood that you have come up with a new idea of your own !!

Kudos :)

Nimmy said...

Thanks Prashant. :-) Suggest that you look up "Tags" in Wikipedia in case you're interested in knowing more about what I have mentioned here! :-)

Anjali said...

Nims I was telling people to use more web 2.0 and asking them to reduce on collaborations thru emails. But wow if one is able to tag emails free for sharing like you mentioned that would be a paradigm shift! Infinity design for sure.

Nimmy said...

Hey Angeli...:-) Cool to hear from you on this one. I so crave for KM discussions with KMers who are like enthu about such things. :-))

TradeExpress said...

Very interesting :). This could be a new take on the "email problem". One question I would have though is, emails represent highly unstructured information. Even if people did have access to "public emails" through tag clouds, would they be able to derive much information out of this unstructured content?

We at HyperOffice had done a whitepaper, with our take on the email problem, which you might want to look at - http://www.hyperoffice.com/business-email-overload/

Yet another take is Google Wave.

Nimmy said...

Thanks a ton, TradeExpress. I think you have a valid point there...in terms of the content being unstructured. Some of the emails may actually provide very little intellectual meat as they may not necessarily have the context embedded in them. Maybe the solution is to have the complete email thread in one place or additional comments from the person who shares them.

Will check out your white paper. Eager to run through your ideas. And, yes, Google Wave does change the paradigm and make an exciting and dynamic discussion forum out of simple Email.

Nimmy said...

Went through the paper! Very sensible and practical perspectives that may probably convince even email fanatics. Thanks again for the link! Sharing it with some of my colleagues on my office blog - not via email! ;-) :-)

Niraj Ranjan Rout said...

You should try out http://grexit.com. Look at the 2.5 minute video on the home page. I am the founder, so drop me any questions that you might have.

Nimmy said...

Thank you, Niraj! Just took a look at your website and video! Very interesting. Will look for opportunities to use it! Do you also have an enterprise edition like Ask Me?