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E.No. – 0271333907
Knowledge Management on Web

Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used in an organisation to

identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such
insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in
organisational processes or practice. An established discipline since 1991 (see (Nonaka
1991)), KM includes courses taught in the fields of business administration, information
systems, management, and library and information sciences (Alavi & Leidner 1999). More
recently, other fields, to include those focused on information and media, computer science,
public health, and public policy, also have started contributing to KM research.

The importance of knowledge management has been recognized both in academia and in
practice. In recent years, corporations have started talking about knowledge management,
organizational learning, organizational memory, and computerized support. conscious
practice is still young (Hansen et al., 1999), using information technology to support
knowledge management is being explored and is well under way in many organizations. The
Web technologies are not only changing the landscape of competition and the ways of doing
business but also the ways of organizing, distributing, and retrieving information. Web-based
technology is making effective knowledge management a reality, and Web-based knowledge
management systems have been developed and deployed.

Currently, Web-based technology is enabling the management of knowledge at the document

management level, in contrast to the traditional record-level data management. The record-
level data management is basically the focus of traditional database management systems.
The document level is higher than the record level. For example, we generally handle daily
problems through communicating with each other by using documents and exchanging ideas
or perspectives about an issue, rather than dealing with database fields or records. Document-
level information management is generally viewed as a lower level of knowledge

Traditional Information Systems vs. Knowledge Management Systems

Traditional information systems were developed to capture data about daily business
transactions (transaction-processing systems), and to access, process, and analyze those
internal and external data to generate meaningful information to support management
[management information system (MIS), decision support system (DSS), or enterprise
integration system (EIS)]. These traditional systems help make an organization operate

However, they were developed at a time when the importance of knowledge management
was not recognized. They all emphasize quantitative data processing and analysis. But an
effective organization does not rely on quantitative analysis alone to deal with its problems.
The nonquantitative side, such as knowledge creation and management, mental models,
document sharing, human communications, information exchange, and meaning making, play
a great role in an organization’s growth and development. Thus, the nonquantitative areas
also need to be supported. Knowledge management systems are supposed to fulfil this role. In
other words, knowledge management systems should complement traditional systems in
providing nonquantitative side support. A difficult task is to define what needs to be
contained in the knowledge management system.


The content of a knowledge management system is not created by one individual. The
content collection and the access of the content is a collective behaviour. Therefore, the
technological infrastructure installed must be able to facilitate the collective behaviour of
knowledge management.

Common Technical Infrastructure Feature Offered By Web Technology:

• Web-based technology uses standard transmission- control protocol/Internet protocol
(TCP/IP), which is mature and is supported by almost every vendor (Panko, 1997;
Telleen, 1996; Strom, 1995).
• Information can be collected, retrieved, and shared through popular browsers like
Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer.
• A home page can be quickly developed, deployed, and shared.
• There are languages specially developed for Web-based applications, such as Java or
VB script. Java applets can be embedded in Web home pages. The applets are
executed on the client’s PC and make it possible to develop interactive home pages
with instant user responses and with multimedia features.
• With Web technologies, an organization enjoys platform independence or cross-
platform operation. JAVA applets do not have to be rewritten to work with PC
browsers, Macintosh browsers, and UNIX browsers (Panko, 1997).

In addition to the common technical infrastructure feature offered by Web technology, there
are several major reasons why Web-based knowledge management is desirable:

1) The basic unit of knowledge is at the document level, which is equivalent to the level at
which human beings normally communicate. Documents are usually created to deal with
particular issues, and we live our everyday lives by dealing with issues. Different from an
expert system, a document-based knowledge management system cannot automatically
derive solutions. Instead, its usefulness lies in its large repository of classified documents,
its multi-indexed powerful searching capabilities, the links between documents, the links
within a document, and the potential of including other advanced features (e.g.,
animation). The interpretation of the documents provided by a knowledge management
system largely lies with the users. The function of a document-based knowledge
management system is largely to support relevant information for a task.
2) The intranet, which is based on Web technology, is the driver for new business
applications. As one study has found, corporate intranets and the Internet have made the
process of finding the right expert for a given task more feasible than ever before (Yiman
& Kobsa, 2000). Another study has shown that intranets can provide useful and people-
inclusive knowledge management environments (Stenmark, 2002).
3) The association between documents and tasks can be easily established by creating
hypertext links. Hypertext links can be created between documents and within a
document. Hypertext links make explicit the meaningful documents relevant for a given
4) The collective behaviour of knowledge management can be supported. A Web site can be
easily configured to allow multiple users or contributors to edit existing documents or add
new documents. When talking about the knowledge management architecture, Morey
(1999) suggested that successful knowledge management architecture must have the
following characteristics: be available, be accurate, be effective, and be accessible. Web-
based technology has made it possible to have effective knowledge management

The Web-Based Knowledge Management Models

Four Web-based knowledge management models are identified in this section. These models
represent the current level of Web-based knowledge management. Nonetheless, these four
types of models may not represent all of the Web-based knowledge management models.
These four representative models are as follows:
• Library model
• Attachment/association model
• Directory model
• Press centre model

Library Model

This model enables content-based document searches. Under this model, a large collection of
documents is established. Both the attributes and the content of a document are indexed, in
contrast to the traditional method where only the attributes of a document are indexed. The
attributes of documents may include title, subject, author name(s), publication (creation) date,
number of pages, and so on. Under this model, powerful search functions are provided, where
not only these attributes (title, subject, etc.) are searched, but also the contents of documents
are searched.

An example was provided by the ITKnowledge. com Web site, which is a large repository of
Information technology (IT)-related books. The contents of the books are fully available. The
chapters in a book are hypertext-linked, and a book is essentially a set of hypertext
documents. Not only the attributes of the books are classified and indexed and can be
searched easily, but also the chapter titles (the content) are indexed by keywords and can be
searched. This makes it possible to find a document with attributes (title, subject) that do not
meet a search criterion but that may contain chapters that are relevant to the search criterion.

Attachment/Association Model

Under this model, information is organized around topics. If we search for a particular topic,
all information associated with the topic will be returned. New information can be attached to
a topic once it becomes available. In fact, anyone at any time can attach new information to a
topic. The attachment creation is an ongoing process. An example of this model is
Amazon.com, which is also an example of successful e-commerce. Bookselling is its major
business. Amazon.com maintains a large database of book titles. To help sell a book faster
and to make users understand a book better, all information relevant to a book title is stored
and organized around a book title. Therefore, essentially, the book database is more than just
a collection of book attributes. Amazon.com provides users more than book titles. Suppose
we want to find books that are relevant to “knowledge management.”
After a title that matches the search criterion is returned, other relevant titles, and what other
customers often purchase together with the current title, are returned and displayed. In
addition, one can learn more about a book by reading the reviews attached to or associated
with the book and other customers’ comments attached to the book. If a reader wants, he or
she can write comments about a book and easily attach his or her comments to the existing
pool of information about this book.

Directory Model
Under this model, the experts in different areas are identified, and a directory of experts is
created. The areas of expertise of these experts are classified and organized. A directory of
experts, together with their areas of expertise, is provided. A representative example of this
model is the Round Table Group (round.table.com). Round Table Group (RTG) was founded
in 1994 with a vision of being a virtual consulting firm where business leaders, management
consultants, and litigation attorneys could shop for answers to critical questions from world-
class thinkers, anywhere in the world, in Internet time (STVP, 1999). According to an STVP
case study, RTG has formed a worldwide network of over 3,000 Round Table scholars—
professors, researchers in well-known think tanks, and other experts. Essentially, RTG’s most
valuable competitive asset is its directory of professors from around the world who were
available to consult with clients on demand. RTG provides answers-on-demand services to its
clients. In Figure 3 below, the classified area of expertise by topic is displayed.

Press Centre Model

Under this model, any information that can possibly be collected, including news, relevant
articles, solution providers, publications, and discussions about a task is collected. A
representative model is Kmworld.com, where a rich collection of relevant information about
knowledge management can be found. If one is interested in knowledge management, a good
starting point would be to visit a site like Kmworld.com. One could be overwhelmed by the
information available, such as discussions, news, and solution providers. But, by spending
some time and effort, one could figure out what is going on with a task, the current status, the
issues, and history information on some issues.


Current Web-based knowledge management is essentially at the document management level
—a lower level of knowledge management, but indeed beyond pure document management
(pure classified collection of documents in a central file cabinet) to allow content-based
retrieval, distributed access, and topic-oriented information organization and association. it is
believed that a Web site could employ multiple models at the same time.
For example, a Web site can be constructed based on the library model while supporting the
association and attachment model. As a matter of fact, ITKnowledge.com is planning to
include the association and attachment model in its site. It is expected that a sophisticated
Web site will provide a menu of knowledge models for its users to choose from so that the
potential of a Web site can be fully utilized.

As future research directions about Web based knowledge management, the higher levels
of knowledge management may need to be addressed. Other functional areas should get
involved, such as sales and marketing, customer support, and research and development.
Other models about Web-based knowledge management may also need to be identified.
Automatic and intelligent knowledge extraction and retrieval (knowledge agents) should also
be studied for Web-based knowledge management.