Using Stored Knowledge

Notes from a ‘LIKE’ neeting in October 2013

Some recent knowledge management meetings that I have attended have raised the question of how we find opportunities for our organisations to make more use of their archived knowledge.  Is there value hidden in those unloved stores of historic information?

Last week, I went to a ‘LIKE’ meeting that showcased knowledge specialists who worked at national newspapers, who had published successful books using their archived material. Old newspaper articles and letters could be edited into highly desirable new books  It was fascinating to hear about the content – books on mountaineering, sports, historic events, and politics.

The interest was not just the content, but in the inspiration of seeing people working in the knowledge and information field, finding innovative ways to engage with the business and expand the value that they deliver.  It was great to hear the enthusiasm of the two speakers as they were clearly thoroughly involved with this dynamic approach to their work.  The initiatives had come from workers in the information field, spotting potential areas of interest and working steadily to persuade their colleagues to recognise the potential value.

The audience were very responsive to the talks and asked plenty of questions.  Some people offered suggestions – such as why not produce books from a combination of different national newspapers, showing the differences of their approaches.  Perhaps newspapers from different countries could join forces and produce books that contrasted the views of contemporary accounts of events such as major sports events, or even, once sufficient time had passed, look back at contemporary views on war.  However, it was stressed that so many opportunities for new approaches are out there – even if cross organisational cooperation is possibly a big step beyond what is currently possible in harvesting value from ‘old news’.

For the audience, the challenge was to see where we could also move beyond the narrow view of our work to look for opportunities that could deliver more. How many of our organisations have archives with potential for value?  Not many archives may have the commercial value to match the newspapers, but perhaps there is material that would be useful for historic records, organisational culture, or inspiration?  It may be worth while for us to try to find them!

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