Knowledge Management usually emphasizes the capture, codification and storage of knowledge. There is much knowledge however that cannot easily be captured and codified, such as that which resides within groups. This less tangible aspect of knowledge management has not been the subject of much exploration.
Communities of Practice are one vehicle by which less structured knowledge is shared between people. As communities of practice are usually physically co-located, research is currently being undertaken in the group as to how such communities might transfer to the virtual environment.
Knowledge Management Systems can provide the means to access information in context; the key to this is the user-interface, which should be natural, intuitive, instinctive, transparent and not be any impediment to the task being performed.
Supporting work in globally distributed groups is an issue currently affecting many organizations and is one that has profound implications for the nature of work. In order to work effectively in an international setting many organizations are turning towards trans-national ‘virtual teams’ to provide an effective and flexible means of bringing skills and expertise to bear on specific problems. Most studies of distributed team working have focused on culturally and linguistically homogeneous groups. However, as ‘virtual teams’ extend across time zones, they will naturally begin to include individuals with different languages and from different cultural backgrounds. As global virtual teams become more common, the need to find ways to better support them becomes even more important.
Hypermedia systems and their user-interfaces are the visible and aural instantiations of information systems. They should provide the means of access to information in a way that offers no impediment to the task being performed. Current commercial systems are designed from a functional point of view ensuring that the interaction is not fluid and the facilities are incompatible with the way in which people work. Knowledge workers need to be able to construct new electronic documents from various sources, annotating them textually, graphically and orally, and be able to share and discuss that information with others who might be at a geographically remote location. Furthermore, it is arguable that users should be guided to information that is hidden from their view.