Spring Internet World in Los Angeles: EI Nino and the Internet in Full Bloom!
Helfer, Doris, Searcher
Spring Internet World was held in Los Angeles, California, March 9-13, 1998. It's clearly the premiere Web trade show, attracting over 50,000 attendees to both the technical sessions, keynote sessions, and the exhibit halls. They had over 600 exhibitors in over 300,000 square feet of space.
The theme of conference seemed to be the theme of the moment on the Internet: Put the Net to Work. Conference sessions included niche focus meetings for the different types of e-commerce businesses. Those in the music industry, for example, got a music industry summit with sessions all day about selling music online, what works, how to handle royalties in cyberspace, and which new or improved technologies to pursue. Similarly groups in advertising and retailing held their own mini-conferences, talking about how to effectively target and reach Internet customers for their products and services.
Knowledge managers had their own all-day forum discussing all the issues of concern to those embarking on knowledge management at their organizations, This librarian found it somewhat laughable -- in a grimly ironic way -- to hear IS types discuss the possibility of including librarians in the group planning for knowledge management. After all, we were managing knowledge when IS types only thought of it as byte streams. The demands of Web users have finally brought them to their knowledge management senses and some recognition that management of all that information is critically important to the organization. And now that they recognize the scope of the problem, they have adopted grudging recognition that organization of knowledge may need library science. (I can die happy.)
Brewster Kahle, founder and inventor of WAIS, and now president and CEO of Alexa Internet, talked about the mess that is the Internet, how the Internet has no corporate memory in digital form, no structure, consistency, or permanence. With everyone becoming a publisher these days, we need knowledge management solutions to enable better searching on enterprise Web sites, file servers, and e-mail searches. Directories, centralized IS departments, and corporate libraries are all self-appointed organizers. He talked about push solutions such as Pointcast, data channel, broadcast voicemail, and structured interactions such as Lotus Notes. Several people beside Brewster Kahle made comments about how unsuccessful push technologies have been. They have failed because they push information at people who may not want to see it frequently, if at all, and leave the users with no ability to capture and reuse the information gathered from it when they do want it. He mentioned companies such as his own Alexa [http://www.al exa.coml and Firefly [http://www.firefly.net] involved in datamining and collaborative knowledge management. Kale believes Alexa offers proactive knowledge management which can leverage metadata, archives, and usage trails into components for finding even unobvious patterns to usage. Alexa was developed to help you archive. It gives you information and background about Web sites, such as who uses them and who likes them, how many links they have, etc. Kahle believes knowledge management should offer suggestions proactively but unobtrusively to help users connect with related, relevant pieces of information.
Rebecca Barclay, president of Knowledge Management Associates, Inc. [http://knowledge-at-work.com] spoke about the knowledge management landscape today. Knowledge management means many different things to many different people. With interpretation, raw data can become information. Knowledge is the appropriate collection of tacit information, and making it useful, especially by making it explicit. The emphasis right now falls in organizational access through intranets, group-ware, and document management. Knowledge managers try to eliminate information hoarding. Dataquest estimates that 1997 corporate spending on knowledge management was $4. …