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Putting all your knowledge on one card

In major companies, it is vital for certain groups of employees to quickly and intuitively locate content from the collective knowledge pool. To make this possible, researchers have programmed the “knowledge card” – a software program that will soon be presented at a trade fair.

Putting all your knowledge on one card “The student must know the facts. The postgraduate must know where to find the book. The professor must know where to find the postgraduate.” Corny though this old joke may be, it is still a good illustration of the recognition that people, as they get older, increasingly structure their knowledge on the basis of who they heard it from. The joke also demonstrates a kind of “yellow pages effect”: When you leaf through the classifieds, you tend to be looking for a plumber rather than a quick and easy guide to unblocking the toilet. Such considerations become very concrete, even taking on existential significance, when it comes to the collective treasury of information that exists within a company. The transfer of such knowledge should not only operate on the principle of “The person to ask is Jane Doe in the accounts department”, but should take place through intuitive and logical structuring of all content on the intranet and other IT structures. Unless this happens, different divisions of the company keep having to re-invent the wheel with slight variations or minor improvements. It is to meet this need that the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD has designed the “knowledge card”. The full name of the program, which was developed on behalf of SAP AG, is “Flash TM Viewer – knowledge card for the visualization of business models”. The graphic presentation of content is a useful aid, given that most people can think more easily in pictures. The program therefore pools similar content to form islands that are semantically interconnected with lines. “Structuring takes place horizontally and vertically,” explains Christoph Hornung, who heads the department of e-Learning & Knowledge Management at the IGD. “The easiest way to envision this is in terms of family relationships: ‘What is the name of Mr Bullinger’s brother?’, corresponds to the lines. ‘He is his father’s son’, on the other hand, delivers deeper explanation.” Obviously, the knowledge card can only be as good as the material that is fed into it. The XTM standard works in a similar way to XML (Extensible Markup Language) on the Internet. Meta tags are like labels: Red ones should be reserved for the names of people, for example, yellow ones for court decisions, green ones for addresses, and so on. From this the program automatically creates the card in a Flash view that is virtually independent of the computer platform used. The knowledge card will be demonstrated at the LEARNTEC exhibition, which is to take place in Karlsruhe from February 14 to 16 (Gartenhalle, Stand 306).

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