Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Information Persistence in a Networked World

I was thinking back to a Google presentation at the APQC KMEdge conference, where the presenter challenged the need to delete information, and suggested that with the current and anticipated future state of search technologies and capabilities, there is no issue finding the right information.

Of course, that proposition tends to make Information Management professionals react quite strongly, in particular around the issue of ensuring that business is properly documented by retaining accurate, relevant corporate records and deleting transitory information from corporate systems.

But what about in the "networked world?" Imagine a not-so-distant future when a range of social technologies are in use inside the organization, and individuals link to internal/external shared content, others' personal / team spaces, URLs etc., very much like what is happening on the Internet today. They build on the ideas /information in those links, and presume that if a reader chooses to follow the path of precedence, they can. Multiply this by the number of people using these linking strategies, yielding an exponential rise in a "network" of connected information.

So, what happens if a number of links in the chain break because they are to information considered transitory in one circumstance, but provided a great foundation of ideas in another? What happens if the originating source is not longer available? (Perhaps a bit like a research paper footnoting another paper or book that ceased to exist.)

In a future of social technologies in the enterprise, can organizations afford to delete any information, regardless of its value, or lack thereof, as a corporate record?

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