Community software and better tacit interactions

We develop online communities that run on intranets using Drupal - an open source web application framework.

I received an email from McKinsey, "Ten trends to watch in 2006". One of those trends is about the economics of knowledge. We help organizations use Drupal to create community software applications for employees, customers, suppliers, etc. What I find fascinating about all this community talk is that it all started in the open source software communities where it continues to flourish. Most of what we apply to developing and managing communities for customers is what we learned directly participating in open source software communities.

Ubiquitous access to information is changing the economics of knowledge. Knowledge is increasingly available and, at the same time, increasingly specialized. The most obvious manifestation of this trend is the rise of search engines (such as Google), which make an almost infinite amount of information available instantaneously. Access to knowledge has become almost universal. Yet the transformation is much more profound than simply broad access.

New models of knowledge production, access, distribution, and ownership are emerging. We are seeing the rise of open-source approaches to knowledge development as communities, not individuals, become responsible for innovations.

In a related McKinsey article, "Competitive advantage from better interactions" the authors write...

Many of the technologies and tools, social networking software and community software solutions that tacit workers are going to use will promote the collaborative and dynamic pursuit, capture, and sharing of knowledge and will allow for more video, audio, and graphics to facilitate remote interactions and broader access to scarce expertise. Tools based on search capacities, collaborative approaches to capturing and organizing knowledge, and new digital-learning channels are likely to emerge.

Executives will have to focus on deploying work-group-centric tools that are easy to set up and tear down as projects and strategic experiments come and go. They will also have to find ways of connecting these tools easily to preexisting interaction platforms.

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