In response to John's questions about Groupware and knowledge bases.
Most references to "knowledge bases" sound like "data bases" dressed
up for the latest party. Something like calling the "personnel
department" the "human resource" department without any significant
shift in thinking, skills or approaches.
One of the ways of thinking differently that transforms the use of
Notes is to consider the material in the *base* as "text" rather than
data, information or knowledge. The logic of working with text is
not the same as that of data or information and the term is more
specific than "knowledge" when applied to stored material.
The issue of "who decides" is crucial to the usefulness and thus
success of a data/knowledge/text base. That is the organisational,
social and stuctural issue of most importance. It is that approach
to dealing with this issue that will have most effect on the
continued development and use of the base and, probably even more
importantly, on the organisational design issues of the company. The
dialogue and exploration of possibility in this area is extremely
The direction of the best answers that I know of are to go beyond what
you think is safe - all the way from sharing data to managing the
system and create permissions beyond comfort and experience. Our
historic tendencies are to be cautious and to kill the possibilities.
The other is to create a principles that the more senior the
authority being assigned, the more distributed the authority be -
that is, have teams or communities make decisions.
And, the last issue for this post, to leave you with as a challenge
or puzzle is - figure out what property rights mean in such a system
and incorporate them into the system. My hint is to approach the
data/information/text as a marketplace and generate principles which
match the effective workings of a marketplace.
-- Michael McMaster Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk