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Lee Bryant is an on-line communication and community specialist with a focus on knowledge development. Lee has a commitment to the development of an international knowledge-based society that can transcend cultural and economic barriers.
Since co-founding TMG in 1996, which was one of the first successful online agencies to focus on building online knowledge sharing communities, Lee has worked with a wide array of companies and organisations to help them create effective strategies and technology implementations that focus on the human element of online communications.
He left TMG in 2002 to focus on the emerging area of social software, and since co-founding Headshift he has become a leading writer and practitioner in the field of augmented online social interaction, whilst working in close partnership with Headshift’s clients to create innovative implementations of the ideas behind social software.
Informal, joined up knowledge sharing using connected weblogs in pursuit of Mental Health service improvement
Within the Mental Health field, there is an urgent need to create joined-up knowledge and to promote collaboration and understanding that can bridge organisational divides (e.g. local health services, charities, professional bodies), occupational divides (e.g. clinician, policy maker, academic) and different perspectives (e.g. service user, carer, researcher, etc.). The failure to bridge these divides, or at least to bring together these distinct domains of knowledge in a meaningful way, is one factor that inhibits the improvement of services. There is also a need for this knowledge to be disseminated to external stakeholders, such as local government, social services, the police, and prison services, to improve the way that they deal with individuals in distress, against the background of a series of widely-publicised tragedies involving Mental Health service users who appear to have been ‘lost’ in the system.
In January 2003, within the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE), we set about structuring a project that would aim to deploy simple, usable social software to create new and interconnected opportunities for informal knowledge sharing between key stakeholders in the Mental Health field. Rather than seek to mediate these different perspectives and produce a single ‘official’ version of events, we decided to promote self-representation by encouraging individual ‘voices’ from our network to stimulate informal knowledge sharing within an innovative framework of top-down and bottom-up metadata and controlled vocabularies.
The use of connected individual and group weblogs is central to this process, not only in terms of the final product itself, but also in the way it was developed. Building such a system is not just a technical exercise – it requires an organisational commitment to building a knowledge-sharing culture, and involves various communities in both on- and off-line activities. Starting from a very low base level of technical knowledge and working with a project team who had never been exposed to weblogs or web applications in general posed a particular challenge.
This paper will outline the ‘social’ methodology we employed to build cohesion within the project team, outlining the use of a common project weblog and local satellite weblogs throughout the project, and the participative design process we employed to allow a range of stakeholders to contribute to the final product.
It will go on to sketch out the network ecology of individual and group weblogs (and other social software tools) we have created for our initial population (>10k users) and how we have linked these together using common top-down metadata and bottom-up terms and categories to create a genuinely joined up knowledge sharing environment where every node, group and category is syndicated both within the network and outside to other agencies via web services and XML.
The paper will also discuss how these ideas are starting to be adopted by the UK’s NHS Modernisation Agency as an example of best practice and suggest some key lessons learned for similar projects.
last update: Friday, July 23, 2004 at 10:32:44 AM-----------------------