Shared meaning is an important goal for any company trying to survive in the slower knowledge economy. With shared meaning, comes easier communication, greater alignment, more profitable identification of gaps, market shifts and competitor strategies, easier cross community sharing
and improved awareness.
A key 'affordance' for supporting shared meaning and increasing understanding is annotation, the ability to respond to written text, critique, amend and anneal. Facile annotation speeds idea cycles, introduces diversity of thoughts, supports & improves knowledge claim validation, creates conditions for synergy and helps with the emergence of new connections and knowledge.
Annotation may be a digital 'Post it Note', a note in the margin, a comment on an instant message log by a 3rd party, a formal critique, comments on a memo, adding new content or correcting someone's spelling errors. What we need is the ability to attach annotations to a wide variety of objects (power point presentations, styled Word documents, discussion posts, chat room logs, podcasts). Such annotations should be with or without date & time stamps, explicit author or pointers to the source. We should make provision for annotations to annotations as well.
Annotations serve to capture key learnings and to allow the emergence of improved context and meaning. Although the ability to have flexible annotation services is key, it is not the entire story by any means. There must be a culture that supports open communication, a recognition of the
value of strong feedback, an acceptance of the key role of validation and critique, before any company will extract value from their annotation services and functionality.
Article on annotation in virtual communities from Educational Technology & Society:
The irony is bloggers and podcasters do not support easy and intuitive feedback and are mainly a one-to-many broadcast medium or publishing genre.
I expect annotation to be a key KM functionality soon. So what role does
annotation really play in your organization and the way you work with
A reflection around the use and (severe lack of) ubiquity of annotation, interactivity and feedback mechanisms in knowledge management applications. I see far too much publishing, push and static text with little affordance for interaction, yet it is in the interaction, the supplied context, rationale, alternate solution, different view, critique, embellishment, reminder or suggestion that knowledge emerges, is created and sustained. The 'knowledge' (really information) in the static document
is congealed, intractable and dormant.
So I'm looking at annotation / feedback as a whole, either my notes or your critique of my notes, at the granularity of attachment, at the need and implementation of bi-directional links, privacy gradients and the practices around annotation that add or destroy value.
This is not a discovery of annotation as something new, it not a revelation of the power of hypertext, linking or attaching objects, it isa muse that we do not see much of this affordance, that certain forms e.g. guestbooks may not be ideal (too serial and detached from the context?), that much valued comment is never attached back, e.g. e-mail and thus lives in a totally separate world, that privacy gradients and the ability to hide or reveal annotations in context is key.
Annotations edge us closer to situatedness & context both of which, I believe, are under appreciated in current knowledge management system design.
- Spike: http://www.porchdogsoft.com/products/spike/
- Jotsmart: http://www.dailytoast.com/index.html
- Quicktopic: http://www.quicktopic.com/
- Group commentary: http://www.weborganic.com/
- Zaplets: http://www.metricstream.com/products/zap_tec_ms.htm
- eNotation: http://www.informal.com/
- Teaching notes: http://www.metatext.com/
- Annotate etc: http://www.imarkup.com
- Personal library: http://karnak.com/
- Lead tools: http://www.leadtools.com/SDK/Document/Document-Annotation.htm
- Notateit: http://www.notateit.com/annotate.asp?ref=annotate
- Annotation downloads: http://www.bykeyword.com/recommended/annotation.html