Eugene Eric Kim
PMB 207
63 Bovet Road
San Mateo, CA 94402

Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 15:40:39 -0800 (PST)

From:   Eugene Eric Kim>


Subject:   Listening to Doug, Proposal

The essence of Rod's proposal is great: Let's learn about KM by doing KM, starting with the tools we currently have available. I'd be very interested to see the reported results of a team doing KM using SDS.

Here's my proposal: How about studying and doing KM using the tools already at our disposal, specifically this mailing list?

We already have one component of a DKR: the automatic archiving of this list into a rudimentary, hierarchical structure. The question now is, are there human methods that we can practice to further improve the building and maintenance of this DKR?

I'll propose several, in no particular order. The first is a simple one: format your messages intelligently and readably. Poor mail clients seem to be the biggest culprit here, but a little human awareness goes a long way in fixing this problem. In my opinion, e-mail should be formatted for at most 70 character lines with hard-returns at the end of each line. MIME messages should be avoided for standard, 7-bit ASCII messages. This provides maximum readability for the majority of mail clients, and also makes it easier to write translation tools that automatically infer structure from unstructured text messages.

Second, someone should do a periodic summary of this mailing list, with links to the appropriate threads and messages. As I mentioned earlier, this is already practiced to good effect by several open source development communities.

(As a brief aside, I'd like to dispute Rod's earlier comment that engineers don't seem to be anxious to practice KM. On the contrary, I think that engineers are among the best practitioners of KM, and that many of the more interesting innovations in KM have sprung specifically from the open source community.)

Third, link to messages rather than quote them. This is one that Doug is constantly promoting, and one that is nontrivial to do with the tools we have at our disposal. It's one of those areas that immediately arises as a necessary tool feature. Not surprisingly, the only two people who seem to practice this -- Doug and Rod -- are people who have tools that support this feature by providing granular addressability and some linking capability.

Fourth, change the subject lines of e-mail to reflect the content of the message, not the title of the thread. Lack of foresight has rendered the subject header irrelevant. Most subject lines tell me nothing except the subject of the first message in the thread and the fact that a message is part of a thread. This latter feature is mostly unnecessary today, as decent mail clients will use the In-Reply-To header.

Fifth, develop a charter for this mailing list. This is tremendously challenging, especially for a list that has traditionally been broad in scope, but I think it is vital for bringing focus to a forum.

Sixth, highlight significant points in messages by resending them (preferably with a link to the original message) in new messages. Eric has already been practicing this, where he will take a particularly interesting paragraph in a long message, and resend it with a different subject and some brief commentary.

These are just a few suggestions off the top of my head. I would definitely like to see those interested in practicing good KM attempt to incorporate some of these suggestions. I'd also love to see comments on the above as well as new suggestions for practicing KM using existing tools.



Eugene Eric Kim