Managing Knowledge in Organizational Memory Using Topic Maps by Les Miller (Iowa State University, USA); Sree Nilakanta (Iowa State University, USA); Yunan Song (Iowa State University, USA); Lei Zhu (Iowa State University, USA); Ming Hua (Iowa State University, USA).
Organizational memories play a significant role in knowledge management, but several challenges confront their use. Artifacts of OM are many and varied. Access and use of the stored artifact are influenced by the user’s understanding of these information objects as well as their context. Theories of distributed cognition and the notion of community of practice are used to develop a model of the knowledge management system. In the present work we look at a model for managing organizational memory knowledge. Topic maps are used in the model to represent user cognition of contextualized information. A visual approach to topic maps proposed in the model also allows for access and analysis of stored memory artifacts. The design and implementation of a prototype to test the feasibility of the model is briefly examined.
Apologies for not finding a more accessible copy of this paper. Please post if you locate one.
The use of topic maps with organizational memory highlights one of the advantages (and costs) of topic maps.
Test yourself this way:
Take a blank sheet of paper and write down one fact you needed or process that you followed for three work related activities yesterday.
How many of those facts or processes would be known by someone outside your department?
I would be willing to bet none of them. Why? Even if you are in something as common as fast food, you still have to know which supervisor to call if there is an emergency, the correct process for storing supplies at your site and any quirks in your local machinery. All of which contribute to the smooth running of the operation. All of which would be unknown to someone outside your particular location.
Gathering that level of information about an organization is incredibly useful, the up side being lower impact from supervisor or staff turn over. The down side is that it requires management to create a culture of preserving organizational memory. That in part involves giving staff a stake in that preservation. The “local” knowledge part can be managed by topic maps.