Answering a question in Brint's ThinkTank.
"How would you recommend that the 'knowledge' is gathered? Thru databases? internet libraries? or maybe surveys? forums? focus groups?"
My answer. There are a number of ways to gather knowledge in addition to those you mention:
a) Collect the insights that percolate from work related conversations
b) Record the 'best' solutions to commom problems and issues
c) Construct an ontology / taxonomy, identify gaps and seek expertise to fill them
d) Encourage collection, indexing and distribution of best practices and lessons learned
e) Conduct formal After Action Reviews (AARs), encourage periodic reflections, craft patterns top collect solutions that work from experience
g) Perform acquisition using knowledge engineering methods
h) Use a technique called enumerative description to ask questions and gather key situational diagnostics
g) Set up a question driven community, e.g. using Organik and mine the insights
h) Construct 'profiles' and have a space where issues can be discussed and pushed to key decision makers, e.g. using Vignette dialog
i) Mine electronic messages and construct dynamic profiles using products like Autonomy or Tacit to link people to people via content matching.
In my experience structured questionnaires and surveys are the least effective may to gather knowledge, which is emergent and very context dependent. I strongly favor communities of practice and knowledge networking where emergent insights and shared meaning are evaluated, continuous learning happens, and participants are kept aware of developments by their peers.