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New books for knowledge base publishers
This article discusses five recent books of interest to Knowledge Base Publishers on such topics as how to:
What makes these titles interesting is that they cover many of the same issues from five different perspectives:
For each book, we provide a description, highlights, and links to sample chapters.
1. Unlocking Knowledge Assets
The authors define KM as "moving information from one person to another in a reusable format" — a broad concept that includes personal, community, public, and corporate information spaces. Much of the material will be familiar to people who have reviewed the KM literature (see CFO's Guide to Intellectual Capital). Fresh material includes:
The book is refreshingly free of consulting jargon and marketing hype about Microsoft products. You get the big picture, but it's well grounded with examples, technical details, and implementation advice. A glossary of KM terms is included.
A sample chapter of this book,"Building taxonomies," is available on the Web.
2. Information architecture
The first edition succeeded partly because the concept filled a gap for corporate webmasters and partly because the authors have a knack for explaining arcane library science topics like controlled vocabularies, authority files, labeling systems, and metadata to the layman (see Mark Bernstein's review). In the second edition, the authors update the sections on organization, labeling, navigation, and searching. In the methodology chapters, they venture beyond library science to include a more interdisciplinary collection of tools and techniques (see our 1997 article "What is knowledge base publishing") and add more bottom-up strategies (see our 1999 article, "Upstream knowledge management"). New material includes:
Excerpts are available on the Web.
3. Enterprise Content Services
The first book was noteworthy for its:
The second book is an expansion and update of the earlier material. The focus has shifted from how to use basic Web publishing technology to what the authors call content services— "a disciplined program for blending people, technology, processes, and content into a complete working solution for any organization." The first two chapters deal with strategic issues — the relationship of content to corporate objectives, how it adds value, how ROI can be measured. The remaining chapters deal with the nuts and bolts of managing content as a corporate asset. This section is divided into three parts:
1. Knowledge "story board" (business process analysis)
2. Content inventory
3. Enterprise content catalog
When we were asked to review the galley proofs, we noted that in Chapter 6, "The enterprise content catalog," there was no mention of librarians. In response, the authors included the following statement:
We found the discussion in Chapter 6 somewhat superficial. For a more thorough treatment of "enterprise content catalogs," see Unlocking Knowledge Assets, Information Architecture, and Metadata Solutions.
A sample chapter is available for Managing Knowledge.
4. Metadata solutions
This is a book written by an IT professional primarily for other IT staff — information systems managers, data managers, technical analysts and software developers. Although the writing style is relatively accessible to ordinary business people, the concepts can be very abstract (e.g. "meta-metamodels"), and the vocabulary is IT-oriented. The choice of "metadata solutions" as the title is significant. The author defines it as:
1. Centralized metadata repository — a "one-stop-shop" where metadata is consolidated from many data sources to facilitate metadata management and deployment. (For more on databases, the primary tool for creating repositories, see "Designing with databases.")
2. Integrated architecture — Metadata extracted from various applications is periodically loaded into a metadata repository in batch mode. Application program interfaces (API's) are used to allow various software applications to access metadata in the repository. (For an introduction to computer architecture, see "What is architecture?")
3. Information directory — a "yellow pages" list of information resources by category. The focus is on finding specific resources, not necessarily eliminating duplicate metadata or reusing metadata.
4. Metadata interchange — a system that involves the exchange of metadata from disparate sources, often through XML. Exchange is made possible through the use of standard tags (labels) and values.
5. Standalone metadata store — a "passive" database used to store metadata (i.e. codes, keywords, categories) for reference purposes. There is no metadata exchange or connectivity to other applications.
Each solution includes diagrams, examples, and references to metadata tools. To fully understand the solutions, you should read the earlier chapters, which are organized into four sections:
The solutions in Part V illustrate how it's possible to implement a full-blown metadata repository in phases, starting from a simple list of codes or categories in a spreadsheet program, then gradually moving toward a complex system with maintenance capabilities and real-time metadata access for both humans and computer programs.
Using a home-building analogy, this book tells you how to create the blueprint, select the materials, frame the structure, and add subsystems for plumbing, electricity, etc. It won't tell you how to decorate the home for a personal "look and feel." In other words, Metadata Solutions deals with technical structure, while Information Architecture deals with intellectual structure.
A sample chapter is available.
5. Google Hacks
Calishain is the editor of ResearchBuzz and a columnist for LLRX.com and Searcher magazine. Dornfest is a "maven," author, and conference organizer for O'Reilly, the publisher. The authors cover three main areas:
1. searching tips and tricks (for researchers and "power users");
2. how to interface Google with other programs using the Google API (for programmers and systems analysts);
3. legal ways to improve Web site visibility in Google (for webmasters and marketers).
Each of the 100 "hacks" in the book has an icon showing its level of difficulty — beginner, moderate, expert. The "expert" category is for people with some programming experience. The "beginner" category is for people with a basic knowledge of computers and the Internet. For Knowledge Base Publishers, the book's primary value is a greater understanding of how search engines work and how they can be interfaced with other information services.
What's a "hack?"
What's an "API"?
What's the Google API?