Thursday, July 28, 2005

Idiots guide to increasing traffic on my blog

I've had this knowledge management blog since December and have had only one comment. I did find that my blog was linked to in 4 places, two of which I placed myself. So today I set off on a path to determine how to increase my blog traffic. By no means am I an expert, but here's some simple things that I'm doing.

1) Added a counter to my site to see if anyone hits my site. I'm using Site Meter.

2) Added my blog to some blog listing services. I used blogwise, blogcatalog, and blogexplosion. I tried bloghub but got stuck in their verification process, so I didn't get listed there. Each site requires registration, so I'm a little worried about giving out my e-mail address, but what the heck. I may also try others at a later time.

3) Check the number of links to my site from my Google search - link:(your site

4) Checked my Google site rank again from the Google toolbar (4 out of 10 when I started this)

In the future I will be doing the following -

- Being more conscious using keywords such as knowledge and knowledge management. To try and use them often but not so often that readers get sick of them. I've also heard of using trade names whenever possible (but be wary of what you say, companies do check use of their name).

- Adding comments on other bloggers sites and leaving a link. I guess this is common practice.

- Start some article marketing. It seems that many folks are repurposing articles from their blogs and posting them on sites like Ezine Articles I read that you need to post 25-100 articles to get noticed (yuck!).
- Take every opportunity to give folks my blog address. (One suggestion I read was to include it in my e-mail signature line. Luckily for my friends, I have not done this yet).

This all seems like a lot of work, but if I want folks to begin reading my blog I better get to work.

If you read this posting, please attach a comment and add me to your blog roll. I'll do the same if I can figure out how.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Just goes to show, that it's always something..."

I'm returning from a week on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. Prior to leaving, I did all the right things, checked the weather report, got a river guide, checked out my equipment, etc. Of course the weather report was wrong (luckily mostly in our favor) and I forgot the river guide, but other than the one unexpected item (black flies) we had the perfect trip.

I returned to the office to find the project tagging with keywords complete and a reality check of the process underway. One cool thing that emerged was a new look at the whole of our project information. We were able to spots some gaps in our current information. We also found that some of our project titles, objectives and abstracts weren't descriptive enough to tag projects meaning that we needed to go back to the original reports to understand what the projects were about. If we had to do this, it easy to assume that our customers would have the same problems.

This new look provided us an opportunity to improve our data. It's important to realize that what we found wasn't because of screw up, it's the challenge of dealing with legacy information. In some cases, information existed before the last coding system. In others, the information was prepared for one purpose and we're trying to use it for another purpose. The biggest challenge is to use this as an opportunity to clean-up our system.

I liken this to the black flies on the river. By swatting them and then throwing them into the river, I got to see trout and next time I'll bring my fishing pole (yes I know this is a stretch ...)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Keywords, keywords, keywords

After months of debate the time has come to code all of our research projects with the new key word list. I have approximately 650 projects to code and even with an easy to use access form, it's taking a ton of time. I'm also finding that navigating the keyword structure still isn't that intuitive for all projects and I'd love to go in and modify the list some more. Now I see why most organizations only use the keyword search function instead of taking the up front effort to prepare a guided or parametric search.

The team spent a lot of effort making sure items go into proper buckets. This may mean that popular search term may get buried down in the hierarchy. For example, if you're looking for information on arsenic, you need to search level 1 water quality, level 2 inorganic chemicals, level 3 arsenic. This approach makes sense in classifying documents, but maybe not from a users perspective.

In the future, I'd like to try a wiki approach to classification. Wouldn't it be great to have the classification system emerge from those using it and then changing as appropriate?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Monday musings

It's a Monday!! Unlike the poor folks suffering from Hurricane Dennis, it's extremely hot and too dry here today in Colorado.

Today, we're progressing on the scanning of final reports. It's amazing the number of issues with this process. Of course, having over 450 reports from the last 20 years makes it exciting. New issues that we discussed today are: 1) what's our retention policy (should we keep all reports, our when do we drop them from the list), 2) do we also want to archive periodicals and newsletters, and 3) how to get a list of all our projects from the beginning of our organization to today.

One interesting thought - Most of our new communications efforts focus on electronic (e-mail and web). Print publications and conferences have basically stayed the same. From surveys, we find that people still want options (print and electronic). With people being overloaded with electronic media, what will be the next trend? From a long-term perspective, are we moving in the right direction?

Friday, July 08, 2005

KM in a water utility

I managed to take a day during my vacation to visit a large water utility company and talk to their knowledge management manager. I was very impressed with their program and all they can accomplish with a staff double mine (2 people). One thing that I heard very clearly from them, was the use of awards and incentives for motivation. Below are some other things I heard:

Communities of practice - Currently have 52 communities with 2868 community members. Use Quickplace software. Communities vary in scope, number of members and topics. They have a defined process for setting up a community. Each community has three contacts 1) Administrator – from the KM group, 2) Leader - content manager, technical expert and 3) community champion – other major contributor. The challenges they identified are keeping the communities alive, a single sign-on for multiple communities, and maintaining soconsistentlytcy.

Ideas into action - Program to get innovative ideas from employees. Originally gave the submitters a percentage of the savings to the company, have now put a cap on it. Have a well defined review and selection process. Ideas must be related to the business and identify cost:benefit as well as how to get it done. Had over 6000 ideas submitted last year. Originally implement about 12% of the ideas, now up to 32% implemented. Some of the challenges they faced are:

- Getting well thought out ideas - Sometime are only a thought, with no detail
- Implementing ideas does take time and effort
- Controversy about the awards, some feel that they submitted the same idea

Database Creep - A major goal of their KM is to consolidate organizational knowledge. They have a real challenge with rogue software and databases being used throughout the company. Huge challenge in reigning in these systems.

Workflow - Have made workflows much simpler by making the content owner the approver of most content.

Intranet - Company information is exchanged through the internet. Have a "submit feedback" button on every page of the intranet. For updating contact information they did a contest, with gift card rewards, significantly improved the response rate.

Learning reviews - KM leads post mortems of business processes. How did the process work, what could be done better next time?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Changing shape of knowledge

My girlfriend related to me some of the discussions at the National Educational Computing Conference. There were many connections between the discussions in education and KM being implemented for my business. What this means to me is that I need to look more closely at changes in learning and teaching. If people are learning in a new way, we need to target communications products that better match how people are learning.
One presentation that I heard about was a keynote on the changing shape of knowledge, The message I heard is that knowledge sharing is changing from paper based to the more fluid and interactive internet based. On the Internet, information is provided in short bites, with a more flexible structure provided by linking.

Information is also being developed in collaboration rather than the one authoritative source. A great example is the wikipedia, This is an on-line encyclopedia that can be changed on the fly by anyone. Definitions are arrived at by consensus and reviewed by thousands, not just the "expert." Of course, the big question is who is ultimately responsible for posting the information and checking its accuracy? Also the structure is all over the place. For example, under the category drinking water, you can find bottled water, tap water, along with product names such as Evian and Dasanti.

Thinking about how knowledge is changing is very interesting. I'm sure that when my daughter reaches college, she will laugh at how much effort her dad had put into producing paper reports.