Knowledge Management and the Semantic Web
That’s the title of my diploma thesis and first of all, thanks to SWC for the possibility to say some words about it. My interest in knowledge management reaches back some time now and I decided to make it the subject of my diploma thesis in my first attempt to write one back in 2001. The semantic web “came to me” in the last one or two years and the TRIPLE-I conference last year was somehow the trigger for me to connect the two topics.
My basic idea was very simple. When you read about the Semantic Web you are confronted right away with connections to creating knowledge and knowledge management. But in my understanding the Semantic Web is a technical thing and knowledge management is primarily a cultural and organisational thing. So the research questions for my thesis where:
- What relevance do knowledge management and semantic technologies have in the daily work of people working in knowledge intensive domains?
- Which possibilities lie in the adoption of knowledge management and semantic technologies?
- Are semantic technologies already fit for practical use?
The basis of the empirical part of my thesis are group discussions held in different organisations. As a result I developed starting points for an understanding of the topics “Knowledge Management” and “Semantic Web” and their relevance in organisations. The empirical results, in short, provide the following answers to the research questions:
- The “theoretical relevance” of both topics is high, the “practical relevance” on the other hand is rather low. Neither do structured concepts for knowledge management exist in the studied organisations, nor are there attempts at using semantic technologies
- Most of the participants have not heard of the “semantic web” prior to the discussions. After having been introduced to the topic, the relevance of the semantic web and of semantic technologies is rated high
- Possibilities are seen in a better management of information or knowledge in organisations and, especially for semantic technologies, in the improvement of search functionality’s and search results
- Semantic technologies are not yet seen as fit for practical use
- The connection between knowledge management and semantic web is taken as a fact without giving any justification for it.
In my conclusion I tried to match my results with the results of the Semantic Web Barometer 2009 and it was very interesting for me, that there were several similarities. I also found that talking to the people that have to work with technologies that are developed for them can be quite interesting and that group discussion are a great way to do that.
I wrote most parts of my diploma thesis in a wiki (and the rest is available as PDF) so you can find it on my wiki.
Your comments and annotations are very welcome!
Thanks for reading as far as this, Helmut