A Background

Ask anyone for their definition of an information hub and they will give you a different answer. Some will dive for Google and are likely to return results defining network hubs, routers or concentrators. For me a hub is the convergence point of a network. It directs information flow whether it is push, pull or passing through.

If you ask the same people “what would you like it to do?” some may suggest that an information hub is a host for storage of information where visitors can pull resources, find links or post information for others to use. As a convergence point in a network of networks it is also a place where relationships can be established and maintained, focused around thematic areas. This means that via the information hub, networks can be expanded and activities conducted peripheral to the hub, but the hub remains very much the convergence point of these relationships.

Now ask the same people “What is Knowledge Management?” Again diving for Google, they may conclude that knowledge management is a mechanism where an organisation comprehensively collects, analyses, organizes and shares its knowledge.

This simple definition doesn’t acknowledge the difference between implicit and explicit knowledge. Implicit knowledge is when an individual is not explicitly aware of how results are achieved.

How do you know that?”… “I just do!”

It cannot be written down and communicated in the same way that explicit knowledge can. Knowledge management must extend to activities that convert implicit to explicit knowledge.

Collection of knowledge is not just data harvesting. It happens before, during and after knowledge activities, including those such as on-the-job peer discussions, discussion forums and collaborative networking. Knowledge is stored and shared in documentation centres, knowledge bases, expert systems and data repositories. Sharing goes far beyond an organisational document and information management system and also takes place through formal apprenticeships, mentoring, internships, professional training and workshops. Development of training materials and delivery platforms is also an integral part of a knowledge management system.

An information hub is shaped by information collection; reforming and delivery systems; and knowledge management forums and collaborative platforms. This paper examines and compares tools that could be used by a service oriented not-for-profit organisation to establish recognition as the convergence point in their network or networks.