It used to be, for example, that an information vendor might charge big bucks for access to a database of content aggregated from newspaper publishers around the world. Now you can do that for free on Google. In the field of scholarly scientific, technical and medical research, the push for so-called open access to peer-review research is also challenging the status quo.
Now comes the new focus, on the research side, on how to add social networking into enterprise search – let’s call it social searching.
Vivisimo offered a compelling, practical case for what can be done. It demonstrated its enterprise/social search service that allows users to enrich their retrieved materials by category tagging, free-text annotating, bookkeeping and sharing. Others in the organization, down the hall or a few time zones away, can access and track their colleagues’ work through dashboard-type functionality. That new, user-generated layer itself becomes an asset by allowing individuals – again, in the same building or half way around the world – to quickly identify pockets of expertise within an organization. And that can be a catalyst for sharing knowledge quickly and avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. But that horizontal collaboration can skip over organizational boundaries, and that can be a threat to unenlightened management.
As Stacy Monarko, a Pittsburgh-based Vivisimo product manager said, “The next best idea may not come from the board room.”
Now imagine the next big idea not coming from within Pittsburgh but from its Diaspora. I understand blogging as a very efficient form of knowledge production. The TECHburgher blog post about Vivisimo's big splash also offers a few anecdotes about putting blogs to work. Whether anyone realizes it or not, the Podcamp Pittsburgh community is a strong regional economic asset. If you don't believe me, then ask the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.