Mapping Knowledge Management

I like maps. I bought this book on maps. Inside, I found the map below – unattributed, and probably from the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth century.

It describes for me – almost perfectly – the early 21st century KM scene, and those of you who have been observing the actKM and AOK Forum discussions over the past few months may find some striking resonances.

I especially like the “Hotel Know It All” and “Mutual Admiration Society” down at the bottom right, and the railway going in circles next to the cauldron of Misrepresentation almost half way down on the left. Oh, and just before you get to the Gate of Ideals, the spring loaded platform called “sprees” flinging the unfortunate traveller high into the air. How little we change over time. The devil is in the detail, so click on the thumbnail below to download the full version (it’s 1.1MB).

By the way. For the avoidance of any doubt, there is no “perfect system railway” in KM. We’d like to believe there is. But there isn’t, and so we do have to run the gauntlet of all the distractions, terrors and deviations in the map below.

4 Comments so far


I like maps too and that’s a fine and funny one.
However, I have problems in principle with a metaphor that might imply that there could ever be such a thing as Success, and that we are coming closer by moving forward.
In particular: what do yuo do when you are there? Isn’t it boring up there?
I do prefer the idea of the horizon: we can move, but we will never reach it. The landscape around us changes as we go. And when we change direction, we no longer see that particular horizon, but another one - which we then approach.
Too depressing?

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 09:37 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Ssshhh.... don’t let the children hear you!

Yes, I agree - it doesn’t make sense to think of success as an end state, but it does make sense to think of doing better and achieving important goals. That’s why the “right system railway” strikes a jarring note in this map - even though it sharpens all the other distractions just by being there.

Posted on May 23, 2007 at 08:31 AM | Comment permalink

On the map, “Success” sits on top of a hill. If we integrate this map with the S-Curve of technology, what we get would be the top of the hill being near the end of the S-Curve. Beyond the hill is a cliff whereby you drop back down to the starting line of another “Road to Success” for the next generation of technology. For example, cassette tape -> music CD -> MP3. Each of these would qualify to occupy one such map by itself.

Posted on May 24, 2007 at 01:57 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Hmmm… a limitless vista of maps ahead!

Posted on May 24, 2007 at 09:05 AM | Comment permalink

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