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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An interesting find to bring the human element into search facilities

I was browsing through Stumbleupon and came upon an article on cnet news highlighting a new programme launched by a company called Attendi. What this is a combination of a chat service and a search engine and I wondered whether this might have applications within knowledge management in an enterprise setting by bringing a human touch to the process.

I wonder whether this is a trend as I was reading in an American magazine which I subscribe to an article about a guy called Jason Calacanis who is developing a new search engine called Mahalo- who is hiring people who build search results by hand rather than relying on an algorithimic approach like Google. It's early days but an interesting trend to watch as people get overwhelmed by the information that Google provides look for and possibly pay for a customised service.

Anyway back to Attendi which highlights that it wants to dos something slightly different and to be the search engine that "bypasses Internet content and head straight for your brain." The aim is to provide answers for questions individuals have that have yet to be indexed on the Web.

Thinking about this in an enterprise setting - let us say that you want to find out for example how many widgets it takes to build a particular machine or what are the best precedents to use for a merger in Germany. A lot of internal search engines will bring up a collection of document with a variety of relevance to the issue that you are looking to find.

Searching on Attendi brings up a list of people who have volunteered to give information. Each person (or "Attendi") has a viewable profile. You can ask the system if you can chat with that person. If they are available online and respond, a chat window appears and you can ask them to share their expertise.

But answering the "Whats in it for me' question beloved of people when asking why they should share knowledge here's a thought.

Perhaps every time you answer a question or offer to share expertise this links into HR or even better you are ranked by your peers for the quality of your advice/information and you move up the rankings, this would be very useful say at appraisal time when your line manager looks at what you have done to share knowledge in the organisation . It would also be helpful for new starters to find out who the key players are.

Something I'd really like to work on one day with an innovative organisation and an open IT department to help the business mobilise it's knowledge resources.

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