How is knowledge captured and synthesized from discussions

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Original Message

From: Tony Pryor, posted on 2008/12/03

I know there's quite a bit of overlap with the Outcome Mapping (OM) discussion group, but I wanted to call your attention to this post on how to synthesize discussion threads. This has been an issue for me with km4dev from the beginning; how do we archive/harvest threads which way have a relatively short half-life on their own. My own experience from years past, when I ran a email list for USAID called RFNET, was what I had to pay a knowledgeable reviewer about 3 weeks of work a year to synthesize these threads into monthly 1-2 page summary sheets which would be indexed and readily accessed. While an expense, this mail list had a broader "corporate" purpose (in this case promoting and institutionalizing internal reforms) that made that cost worthwhile. In fact, without that expense the value of a continuous exchange on a constantly changing set of issues was seriously degraded, once a month or so had passed.

This instant messaging world ironically can make knowledge even more fleeting and ephemeral, somewhat memorable for those directly in the thread, but a confused jumble of ideas for the rest of us - like trying to gain insights by attending cocktail parties for a month (well, not necessarily THAT bad!). I know we've done a very good job within the km4dev family using the wiki space for some of this, but I wonder what more can be done. This is an interesting approach Simon raises for OM; are there others out there we all can learn from? Is the voluntary approach suggested by Simon sufficient for all uses and all groups?

And by the way, under the auspices of the Knowledge Driven microenterprise Development effort at USAID, I've started a blog as part of the KDMD KM Lab; I've already highlighted some issues of interest to chat group, and was planning in fact to cover this topic - how to harvest from threads - later next week. But I thought now might be an opportune time to flag the blog, even though it's just beginning its maiden cruise. Please fell free to comment on any other of it; I will drag any relevant material over to either OM or km4dev if of broader value.


All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Tony Pryor
Lucie Lamoureux
Simon Hearn
Johannes Schunter
Jaap Pels
Grant Ballard-Tremeer
Michel Menou
Veneeta Singha

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