KM Is Losing Steam – Evidence From "The Database Of Intentions" ?


I was experimenting with Google Trends today. Incidentally, I remembered what Denham Grey wrote in his blog Knowledge-at-work in February, 2006 : “In an endless quest to discover our KM roots, articulate or bound a clear KM domain, and agree on basic postulates, we seem to be as scattered and divided as ever, in danger of falling off the corporate map and being absorbed by other fads.”. I ran a query on Google Trends to see the search and news volumes for “knowledge management” over the past few years. The results are in the graphic you see. Bad news !! All of us have been hearing about the danger of KM getting sidelined because of numerous reasons. I am SEEING the threat for the first time. There has been an almost consistent reduction in search volumes over the years. 2006 in particular seems to be a very bad year. Other interesting statistics:

  1. Most of the searches have happend from the APAC region (India in particular) and South Africa. There is no city in the US or Europe in the top 10 cities.
  2. Indonesian and Thai are the top 2 languages in which searches were done. English is 3rd.
  3. Interestingly, when I ran a query for “All Years”, “United States” and checked the Languages tab, I saw Chinese was way ahead of English. This means most of the searches for “Knowledge Management” within the United States between the years 2004-2006 were done in Chinese. Very surprising !! or am I getting this wrong?

Is this a result of more “knowledge work” moving to countries like India,Indonesia,Philippines etc., over the past few years? I have seen many service providers in India turn to KM as a way to improve operational efficiencies and also innovate faster as competition intensifies and commodotization sets in.While I am not sure if this could be a cause,it is very very intriguing !!

I remember what John Battelle wrote in 2003 in his blog on The Database Of Intentions : “This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind – a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially from this day forward. This artifact can tell us extraordinary things about who we are and what we want as a culture.

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