Welcome to the Knowledge Network Team Blog

Welcome to the blog for Knowledge Network for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. That name just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it? But there is an important reason why this cool new technology is “for Office SharePoint Server 2007.” We’ll talk about that in more detail in future blog entries. Right now let’s set the stage for what you’ll find when you visit the Knowledge Network Team Blog and take a glimpse at some of the info that we’ll be posting here over the coming weeks.


Let’s start with a little background that may be a bit academic but it establishes a good baseline. Bear with us and you will see how this relates to helping you in your work. By taking the first step of reading this blog, you are entering a new area of applied scientific and sociological studies that confirm how people find information within their organization and then use that information to take action - usually by collaborating with the right people.  We are excited that you’re joining us on this blog to explore how this interesting area of study can help you be more productive and more effective by saving valuable work time and leveraging connections with others.


Think about the people you know and work with regularly. We call them, your “colleagues” or in social networking terms, your “first degree contacts”. Chances are you know them pretty well. You know some of their friends. And you’re familiar with some of their skills and expertise and perhaps even some of their job history.


This is only the tip of the iceberg. Imagine if, with the appropriate privacy model in place, your colleagues shared keywords and contacts with you in an intuitive and personalized way, allowing you to leverage the depths and breadth of their social networks, their insights related to past projects in your organization, their contacts within and outside your company and their personal experiences. Intriguing? But, wait, there is more!


People whom your colleagues know are your “second degree contacts” or what we call your “colleagues’ colleagues.” The friends and contacts of your second degree contacts are grouped into “everyone else” or “third degree contacts.” We call these second and third degree contacts your “weak ties.” In social networking theory, weak ties connect together cliques or sub-groups, which can provide powerful connections to new ideas, information and opportunities. Having a deep social network and expertise profile for an individual is key to providing impact to an organization, and automating the creation of that profile is key to unlocking that person’s tacit knowledge, that is, knowledge that is not readily available in a document, spreadsheet, e-mail, etc.


A groundbreaking study was published in the American Journal of Sociology by Mark Granovetter called The Strength of Weak Ties. He determined that the majority of successful job seekers actually learned about their jobs through acquaintances or “weak ties”, not friends or family. Granovetter went on to propose the idea of weak ties based on social networking theory.

Malcolm Gladwell describes his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference in the following way on his blog:

“I like to think of it as an intellectual adventure story…”

“There is a little bit of sociology, a little of psychology and a little bit of history, all in aid of explaining a very common but mysterious phenomenon that we deal with every day.”


Gladwell continues by stating:

“Sprinkled among every walk of life, in other words, are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors.”

We believe that Knowledge Network will allow more people to connect quickly while also enhancing the role that “Connectors” play in sharing knowledge that helps organizations be more effective.


As Bill Gates stated in the Newsweek article titled

The New Road Ahead: Where Next for the Knowledge Economy?

“The knowledge you accumulate throughout your career — the ’tacit’ knowledge, rather than the ’explicit’ knowledge found in, say, manuals or textbooks — defines your value to the organization you work for. Your ability to combine it with the knowledge of co-workers, partners and customers can make the difference between success and failure — for you and your employer.”            


And he concludes by stating:

“Inventor Robert Metcalfe theorized that the value of a network is roughly equal to the square of the number of people using it." Metcalfe's Law" applies equally to knowledge: being able to tap into the world's finest thinkers as easily as we can now search the Web for information will revolutionize business, science and education. It will literally transform how we think—and help us finally realize the potential of a truly global knowledge economy.”


More recently, Mike Gotta of the Burton Group, stated in his blog, “Microsoft certainly has the ability to alter the expertise and social networking landscape…”


We’ve done a great deal of research to understand where people feel their time is being wasted, and how Knowledge Network can help. With some of the research referenced in this blog we’ll share with you how Knowledge Network addresses the following familiar problems:

·         Most information is not “documented” in a formal sense.

·         It’s often difficult to connect with the right person.

·         Weak ties are not easily discoverable.


And for our last quote in this blog entry, we’d like to highlight an excerpt from Rob Cross’s and Andrew Parker’s book The Hidden Power of Social Networks:

“When we think of where people turn for information or knowledge, we usually think of databases, the Internet, or more traditional repositories, such as file cabinets or policy and procedure manuals. Yet even though databases (and the staff to support them) have grown to mammoth proportions, they are often underused because employees are more likely to turn to colleagues for information.”


This blog is intended to provide you with information, insights, and development updates surrounding Knowledge Network. We also intend to advance the concepts of enterprise search, expertise search, and social networking to a more useful and productive level. 


We will post the following information and more within this blog:

·         Insights from prominent guest bloggers

·         Contributions from Microsoft’s Knowledge Network product group

·         Other relevant information and resources


Thanks for reading our initial blog entry about Knowledge Network. We hope you have enjoyed it. We’ll be making Knowledge Network available on the web for no additional charge to run with Office SharePoint Server 2007 later this year. We also hope that the benefits of using Knowledge Network and Office SharePoint Server 2007 will create a positive impact throughout your organization.

Comments (13)

  1. Joost Bekel says:

    Great initiative!

    My job is to design digital environments to empower information workers, in order to enhance the performance of organizations. To accomplish this, I use Microsoft software as a tool.

    I can relate to the things you describe here, also when I hear Irving Wladawsky-Berger of IBM say: "we cracked knowledge management". What he means is that we have overcome the very academic discussion about knowledge management in the past about tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge, using very practical tools like blogs and social software. (http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=P13988_0_4_0_C or http://bekels.blog.com/665346/ (in Dutch)).

    Furthermore it becomes easier to couple performance indicators and knowledge, making knowledge work for the organization in a way that is new and powerful (http://scorecard.blog.com/706913/).

    It will be interesting to follow your blog on these subjects!

  2. Beau says:

    This is very cool.  I’m very excited about this.  This product has a lot of potential in the Legal market.

  3. The first two public sessions presented during this week’s SharePoint conference were engaging. I blogged about the overview session here: http://craigrandall.net/archives/2006/05/knowledge-network/.

  4. I attended all the Knowledge Network sessions at the SharePoint Conference 2006 in Redmond this week and I must say, you guys rock!  I think KN is going to set new standards for people search within the enterprise.

  5. Rafael Sidi says:

    Will this initiative include tools like "expert locators" based on someones knowledge?

  6. Sharon says:

    Well I’m not taking my first step into a new area, having studied this subject for some time now :-)…  but that little gripe aside, glad to see the blog is up.  I attended the ‘under the hood’ session which was very good… and benefitted from being in the smallest room at the conference, allowing for a more interactive feel during the Q&A.  (How about taking some of your social network research and educating conference organisers on the expertise-sharing benefits of running smaller interactive sessions as opposed to large broadcasts?)

    I’ve posted a write up of the KN ‘under the hood’ session here: http://www.joiningdots.net/blog/2006/05/ms-knowledge-network.html

    Look forward to seeing more details and research published on this blog…

  7. MSDN Archive says:

    Thanks for your comments! We hear you. We’re very excited about Knowledge Network too.

  8. Giles Gregg says:

    I think this is going to be an exceptional tool, I’ve blogged my own thoughts on it’s potential. Can you provid emore details on how it will be possible to interrogate the data in the knowledge server?

  9. MSDN Archive says:

    Yes, we’ll provide more details in upcoming entries. Thanks!

  10. Brian Baldwin says:

    We’re very excited at my company to see this kind of functionality as Autonomy almost crept in our door several month’s back.

    I have an issue with the software though, I’ve asked my team to run it as a test and everyone so far has gotten this error:

    Attempted to read or write protected memory. This is often an indication that other memory is corrupt.

    This was reported before prior to the latest release and it still seems to be happening, any suggestions?

  11. MSDN Archive says:

    Hello Brian,

    Can you please check the version of KN that you are using?  In addition if you are willing to provide us with your log file please send it to us at KNblog at the @microsoft.com extension.  You can find the log file named KIClient.log in the following location:

    c:documents and settings<username>local settingsapplication datamicrosoftknowledge network

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