Magazine article Information Today

Forrest Sawyer's Opening Keynote

Magazine article Information Today

Forrest Sawyer's Opening Keynote

Article excerpt

That voice is unmistakable. Away from the news desk during his opening keynote speech at KMWorld & Intranets 2002, NBC/MSNBC news anchor Forrest Sawyer appeared a little out of context. But as soon as he .started speaking, he was instantly familiar.

What does a news anchor know about KM theory? Sawyer is chairman and co-founder of Sawyer Media Systems, a company whose products are designed to help enterprises use rich media effectively. He demonstrated his KM knowledge by explaining chaos theory, complexity theory, and emergence. He then related these ideas to the Internet.

As Sawyer described it, emergence is caused when change inside a system occurs from the bottom up--i.e., local behavior becomes global behavior. This growth is exponential. It happens slowly in the beginning until it reaches a critical mass. Sawyer said that systems want to be in n steady state, but external forces make them change. We often don't recognize emergent behavior until it's in n steady state.

Yes, all this does relate to the Internet, which Sawyer noted is growing exponentially. No one knows how it will ultimately be used or what its steady state will be. Although the Internet's uses will emerge from evolution, its rapid growth, much like the exponential growth in cities, needs to be investigated and managed. …

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