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.