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Sunday, August 11, 2002

Teaching the Next Generation of KM Leaders

This article in Searcher Magazine discusses the changes taking place in Library and Information Science education and a study of current curricula at accredited institutions. It's written by a professor of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee.

By 2017, some 68 percent of today's librarians will have retired, according to recent estimates in the news (Lynch). President and Mrs. Bush have launched an initiative through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to recruit "a generation of librarians." Since schools of library and information science traditionally attract second or third career professionals, the aging of the information professions is a cause for concern. In addition, many new information-related jobs outside libraries now attract LIS graduates and compete with libraries as employers.

This poses several key challenges for the 56 ALA-accredited schools in North America. (For a list, check out the ALISE site at These schools must keep curricula vital for new professionals in a variety of settings, attract enough young recruits to fill the vacancies caused by retirements and to fill new types of jobs, and provide choices and flexibility in scheduling that appeal to full- and part-time students, both those pursuing a first career and those changing careers. It is a great time to enter the information professions, but one that poses challenges for LIS schools and employers, as a new generation of information professionals comes on the scene and prepares to tackle jobs in a variety of environments. [...]

I've been looking for a grad student in LIS to help me think through some business information flow issues, so this caught my eye. I know most small businesses don't have the resources to hire an information professional but, from my experience, small businesses need information help more than anyone. And the article discusses how LIS programs are more frequently showing students all the possible career paths they can take.

The careers that attract students to LIS programs aren't always what they end up pursuing. In fact, many of them come into the program without realizing all the career possibilities. One current student told me he started with an interest in special libraries, but, "as I have progressed, I realized that the skills that librarians have of analyzing information sources, or organizing information, and in researching are vital not only in libraries but in government and private business." His new goals are "to use the skills I have acquired to begin a career in knowledge management or competitive intelligence," with the ultimate goal of being in a position that will "have an effect on strategic planning."

Now that's the kind of person I'm looking for.

Managing Local and Remote URLs in Radio

I don't know anything about writing macros for Frontier so how would I create an ifLocal macro? For my reference mainly, as I don't fully understand the fix but I most definitely understand the problem -- it's bitten me a couple of times already.

Jon Udell is moving his weblog to new home using Radio and external FTP site. One of the gotchas he found:

"- If you hardcode your site address anywhere, you'll get burned. I did this in a few places. For example, I had:

instead of:


Right. In fact, I use my own macro to do just that and little bit more. <%ifLocal()%> macro, which looks like this:

on ifLocal (url1="/", url2=radio.macros.weblogUrl()) {
  if radioResponder.flSameMachine {return (url1)} else {return (url2)}

One of the problems with Radio that I noticed is that it's not easy to produce link that works properly off- and on-line. Local links look like this:, and external links look like this: I use external stylesheets and often work offline, so it's real problem for me. ifLocal macros always generates proper link and works for images, files and pretty much everything else. Just put this as a value for href or src attribute: <%ifLocal()%>gems/toolbox.css and you're done. [toolbox]

Automating Radio Deployment

I'd forgotten how many interesting items Steve Pilgrim picks up. I hadn't updated my subscriptions list since he had all his trouble moving Radio to his own ftp serer and domain. That's all better now, as is Steve's new home.

Steve points to some scripts Jon Udell is writing to smooth the deployment of multiple Radio blogs over at InfoWorld. I can't even deploy Radio on my laptop, but I think it's due more to some intellectual deficiency than any serous technological problem. Maybe I'll get it right when I have more time.

Udell's post is focused more on replicting all the little changes we do to personalize our instance of Radio -- a good thing since it's likely a good many of us personalize at least some of the prefs once we get used to it.

Jon's checklist is handy if you change PC's, move your site or simply want to understand Radio better
Radio deployment descriptors. A few weeks ago, I spent some time showing an InfoWorld colleague, Mark Jones, how I use Radio. As always in this kind of situation, I was reminded of: ... [Jon's Radio]
[Rodent Regatta]

Can Small Business Use Web Services

If you have any experience with the printing and publishing industries you know that, outside of a small handful of billion-dollar companies, business automation is a pipe dream. The print industry is largely made up of companies $20 million and smaller -- with net profits as low as 1 percent -- and the idea of EDI-based supply chain operations, electronic invoicing, and real-time inventory management is just beginning to occur to most of them.

Even when it does occur, the implementation is most often a straight routinization of their old manual process -- it is exceedingly rare for a printer or publisher to completely re-engineer a process to take advantge of the inherent a nature of EDI and B2B e-commerce.

I don't know whether these initiatives will lead directly to services that the average small enterprise can use -- BEA and IBM tend to focus on gargantuan implemenations no small business can afford. But if they can get the groundwork right, and seed the tide of easily accessible services for things like invoicing, POs, order confirmations, etc., it could make a major difference in the way the print industry operates in the future.


For years it has been extremely expensive for a small business to automate key aspects of its supply chain. Unless driven by a large customer (Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble mind) small businesses seldom took advantage of EDI feeds of order acknowledgements, accounts payable invoices, etc. Instead, many well run small businesses printed purchase orders and faxed them, hand-entered receipts of goods and manually keyed in invoices for supplier shipments.

Web services has the potential to bring on dramatic change. With today's generation of accounting and business management software, small businesses are prepared to remove much of the human intervention that was required in the supply chain. This article shows that the trend starts in the BigCo's, but the prospects for the Forgotten 5000 are clear.

Tech giants back new Web services. Microsoft, IBM and BEA Systems plan to announce new specifications that they hope will spur use of emerging software designed to foster business interaction over the Internet. [CNET] [Rodent Regatta]

Playing With Wireless

I'm just fooling around with my new wireless toys and Radio Remote Access -- sitting in the TV room watching NASCAR at Watkins Glen while blogging. The D-Link AirPlus hub is really cool. I can't tell any difference in performace vs sitting on my local desktop.

I should have done this months ago.

PickWick Hotel Rating

Have any of you out in the blogoshpere ever stayed at the Pickwick hotel in San Francisco? I see it's half the price of the Palomar, and just about as close to Moscone.

Rethinking the Intranet Staff

Martin White of Intranet Focus Blog provokes some thoughts on just who should staff and run an intranet for best results. The need to take an integrated view of a company's information systems seems to be gaining momentum.

My limited experience has been, in fact, that IT quite often does strangle intranets and most any collaborative effort with a lock-down, security-centric approach that is rarely warranted. Certainly some things need strong protection, but the blanket application of strong security technologies and approaches have really limited the usabiltiy of intranets I've been a part of -- for both large and small companies.

This, in turn, limited users' ability to easily contribute and update content, leading to some of the problems noted in the article.

Intranets need team players. This is the title of an excellent article in New Media Zero by Steve Lodewyke of Think Lateral. This short article contains some important insights into the management of intranets.

Steve observes that "Business-minded information professionals are needed, people who can open dialogues between departments to create improved products, services and systems. It will be these 'communication altruists' who will draw together IT, corporate librarians and HR in order to make the corporate intranet flourish. It's crucial that employees trust the content on their intranet, as well as the team responsible for its implementation. Currently, many companies recognise that their intranet is becoming a bank of information that no-one has any faith in, with no discernible knowledge management in place. It's time to give the task to the communicators, to cut through the chaos. Together with the Webmaster they will be able to create inter-departmental links to pull the side together. A game plan can then be devised to focus on business imperatives such as corporate culture, rather than technology. More importantly, they can identify where return on investment will be delivered. This quantifiable index of intranet success is what's needed to win the support of the directors."

The number of intranets I come across where the IT department has managed to strangle an intranet, often at birth. As Steve points out "When intranets first came into play, many could see the business sense in having one, but were unsure of where to start. It was customary to give the task to IT, because the intranet was seen as a technology solution. Although this strategy has delivered a lot of intranets, their quality is now under review. Information technologists don't have a monopoly on intranet common sense and companies are aware that their intranet isn't the open communication tool that their people need. Intranets are about communication. Obviously the better the technology, the better it will perform. But a great technical solution won't make an intranet work if information is hard to find or out of date."

There is nothing I can add. Steve has said it all.

Martin White [Intranet Focus Blog]

Collaborative Work and Intranets

This post links to a nice survey and introduced me to an interesting intranet weblog I'll be adding to my subscriptions. As Matt Mower notes, the survey is geared toward BigCo, and unless you're a senior financial manager or have P&L responsibility you won't have any idea how to answer. But the behavioral section is very interesting and applicable to almost any organization.
The intranet is not a coporate brochure damnit!.

Collaborative working using an intranet. Many of the magazines have perished, but Fast Company seems to keep going, though I admit I look at... [Intranet Focus Blog]

» Good pickup on how so many companies still have a narrow view of what an intranet can be.  A good intranet is an information ecosystem and not just a magazine site for the corporate communications team.

The questionnaire mentioned looks interesting too.  It is geared towards large companies and seeks to determine:

  • the potential value from developing a collaborative organization in your company.
  • the current behavioral obstacles in your organization.
  • the extent of collaborative levers currently in place in your company.

however I'm sure that many of it's questions could be usefully tailored to fit other situations. [Curiouser and curiouser!]

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