Online Information Conference 2007 – Communities of Practice in Local Government


I will be presenting at the Online Information Conference 2007 on Wednesday 5th December, on the topic "Communities of Practice in Local Government", which is part of the overall theme of connecting users and harnessing intelligence using social networking and social media technologies/applications. The presentation is a case study of the project I’ve been working on for the Improvement and Development Agency.  The following is a synopsis of the session:

Social tools and technologies are changing the KM landscape, making it far easier to connect with peers and experts, and facilitating far more effective knowledge sharing and collaboration. We are moving beyond the factory model of ICT, which focussed on centralisation, standardisation and storage to a more diverse and less regulated environment.

For some, this provides the opportunity to break out of the silo working practices so prevalent across the public sector, and encourages a more productive and collaborative approach to online knowledge sharing. Others see this as undermining the integrity and quality of established (and centralised) knowledge repositories and best practice procedures, and equate social networking with purely leisure and entertainment activities.

The presentation will describe how the IDeA established Web 2.0 technologies and social media applications as the foundations for a new KM strategy for supporting communities of practice that would deliver service and productivity improvements across the local government sector, and how
resistance to this de-regulated environment was overcome. The key points covered in the presentation are:

  1. moving from a culture of knowledge repositories (people-to-information) to one of knowledge collaboration (people-to-people),
  2. introducing a sceptical and mature staff demographic to the concept of virtual collaboration using social computing/Web 2.0 facilities and
  3. creating, developing and growing effective communities of practice in local government.

I’m hoping the session will be of particular interest to library and information professionals, since I believe these have a key role to play in support of these new collaborative KM initiatives, and communities of practice in particular. For example, they could be promoting the merits of personal content tagging to aid search and retrieval, and establishing best practice procedures for sharing knowledge and information via blogs and wikis. They could also be influential in the future development of Web 2.0 technologies and social media applications, ensuring librarian disciplines and standards are accommodated at the design stage and not introduced as afterthoughts.

I’m personally looking forward to the keynote presentation from Jimmy Swales, the session from Lee Bryant from Headshift and Euan Semple’s keynote session. However, I will be following all the presentations that have a Web 2.0 and knowledge collaboration theme.


  1. Hadley Beeman said:

    I understand the paper you submitted for this conference is well worth a read!

    Hope the presentation goes well.

    November 16, 2007
  2. Dissident said:

    Hadley – thanks. And your contribution to the paper is recognised!

    November 16, 2007

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