A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Technologies, Standards, and Marketplaces for e-Knowledge   © SCUP 2003
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Standards Incorporate Consensus and Create Value (continued)



Chapter 4

Technologies, Standards, and Marketplaces for e-Knowledge

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Why are standards for content management necessary? The essential reason is that digital information by its very nature is portable; it can be constituted and re-constituted, chunked-down and aggregated, and, when modularized into standard bits, is easily assembled. Without standard content formats and methods of management content, marketplaces cannot mature.

It will also be important to consider how to maintain the value of content over the longer term. One problem here is the existence of well-meant initiatives to reduce the importance of consistency and the dominance of particular languages and spellings. As an example, the Web site freespeling.com (with only one "l" in spelling) argues for freedom to choose new spellings; its surveys indicate a preference for FREND rather than friend, HITE for height, and KAOS for chaos. And kaos is what would result for content management if we experienced significant linguistic drift.

Learner Information. Standards associated with learner information involve technologies that support unique identification and authentication, and thereby provide performance support and portability of student information within e-learning courseware and between institutions. Standard formats for learner information enable different system components to share information about learners.

Security. Remember the days not so long ago when online banking was still just a possibility because adequate security infrastructures were not yet developed? The single reason why online banking services, and e-business more broadly, is now widely accepted is because the security systems are in place. Trusted mechanisms that protect data and networks from un-authorized access are, of course, not specific to e-knowledge but they’re critical if the e-Knowledge Industries are to flourish.


There are many standards already developed in this area and many under development — they range from enterprise firewall systems to digital signatures and unique ID and password combinations. Without well-developed security technologies (including standards and protocols), the “Web of Trust” that is envisioned by the World Wide Web Consortium as a pinnacle of development will not be achieved.

Enterprise Systems Integration. From an enterprise (including institutional or organizational) perspective, a key area of standardization is to do with systems integration. Without systems integration and interoperability, full service implementation cannot take place. Technologies such as Web services (mentioned earlier) will be important here. Integration needs to span a wide range of systems that include networking and communications, learning platforms, content management, knowledge management, human resource development, customer relationship manage- ment, enterprise resource planning, rights management, directory services, and repositories of various other kinds.

Organizational Workflow. Related closely to enterprise systems integration, organizational workflow standards are critical to developing robust mechanisms for knowledge management. However, with workflow and knowledge management standards, the emphasis is upon the flow of information and how to automate it where appropriate. It is about automating proven procedure and enhancing organizational efficiency and professional productivity.

The above synopsis is in no way intended to be exhaustive. The very nature of innovation within the digital world is that new technologies and, hence, standards will continue to develop as a result of previous practice.


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  The very purpose of science is to help us understand the complex world around us through simple explanations. The purpose of technology is to make new artifacts fulfill the needs of humans, not to make their lives more complicated.
Michael Dertouzos