Personal Digital Libraries and Knowledge Management
(Aalborg University Esbjerg, Esbjerg, Denmark
Abstract: The efficient management of knowledge has become imperative
for almost all types of organizations. Many approaches exist for dealing
with knowledge management at a corporate level. But there is also a need
to support knowledge management also at an individual level, a level which
takes the specific needs, experiences and skills of knowledge workers into
account. While largely unexplored within the field of knowledge management,
in the field of digital libraries advanced personalization and customization
concepts exist. Within this context, this paper examines these concepts
and how they can be exploited to address the challenges which are typical
for knowledge management. As the paper will show, many synergies exist,
if knowledge management at an individual level is dealt with in combination
with personal digital libraries.
Keywords: Personalization, Information Systems, Knowledge Management,
Categories: H.1, H.2, H.3, H.4, J.3
The world of information today is an increasingly diverse and distributed
one. Both the amount and variety of information available in digital form
continue to increase at a rapid rate. Advances in storage technologies
enable enormous repositories containing a variety of information to be
compiled and maintained online. Evolving network infrastructures make it
possible for large information repositories to be queried and accessed
from virtually anywhere. These trends in the availability and management
of information have important implications for both individual knowledge
workers and the organizations within which they work.
At the individual level, these trends have produced an environment
in which to work effectively, knowledge workers must increasingly be prepared
to look to digital sources, including those available over the network,
for more and more of their information needs. Remotely located information
items managed by external systems distributed across networks represent
an important part of the overall information needs of knowledge workers.
For example, an employee in the process of preparing an environmental impact
report might need to gather information from several sources, interacting
with a geographic information server at one location to obtain
maps and related geographic data, a government environmental information
server at another site to obtain the required statistical data, and an
image server at yet another site to obtain satellite imagery for the report.
The ability for knowledge workers to personalize the information with
which they work is an important capability, one that can facilitate their
ability to perform complex tasks [Van House et al. 1995].
For example, the user described in the previous example would probably
find it convenient to be able to attach annotations to a satellite image
obtained from an image server in order to communicate personal observations
to a coworker during the process of preparing the report. The importance
of user customization and personalization capabilities has been noted in
the literature. Nürnberg suggests the need to support the easy and
fast personalization of information accessed by users of web client applications,
in order for the information to be used more effectively [Nürnberg
et al. 1997]. Additionally, they point out that the new digital processes
that will characterize future information systems (e.g., agents, user profiling,
and other automated personalization mechanisms) will likely require even
further personalization and customization functionality than available
in existing systems. Marshall notes the need for supporting personal annotation
for the holdings contained in digital libraries, citing the importance
of providing a digital analogue to this familiar and convenient form of
marking up and working with paper-based documents [Marshall
1997]. Roescheisen reports that the process of a user personalizing
an information space adds value to it [Roescheisen et
al. 1995]. Though it is an important capability for enabling knowledge
workers to work more efficiently and effectively with information, personalization
can be a difficult capability to support, especially in today's increasingly
diverse and distributed information environment.
At the organization level, the recent trends noted above in the
information landscape of today have produced an environment in which knowledge
management has become a critically important capability for many types
of corporate organizations. The primary objective of knowledge management
is to leverage the knowledge that resides within an organization to achieve
the organization's goals more efficiently and cost effectively. The formalized
knowledge or organizational memory within a company is the key to maximizing
the return on the intellectual assets and investments of an organization
[Tochtermann 2000]. This is reflected in the fact
that many companies now include the category of intellectual assets on
their balance sheets, in addition to more traditional material assets such
as labor and capital, when measuring the value of the organization. For
many companies the percentage of overall worth represented by intellectual
assets is already substantial, and continues to rise [Murray
et al. 1999].
The knowledge management process within an organization involves more
than just the initial creation of a corporate or organizational memory
[Skyrme 1997]. To more completely support the information
needs of organizations, a more integrated view is needed, one that includes
support for: the retrieval of information from the organizational memory
so users can more easily locate relevant information items, the visualization
of that information to assist users in contextualizing and visualizing
complex information structures, and knowledge transfer techniques that
facilitate and promote the usage of corporate knowledge bases for learning
and educational purposes to help employees stay current in today's rapid
pace of innovation.
Only through a more integrated approach can organizations derive the
maximum potential benefit from their investment in establishing an organizational
memory [Tochtermann 2000].
Though important and necessary in today's business climate, the knowledge
management process presents many difficulties. An intrinsic problem of
knowledge management is the complex nature of the interrelated knowledge
contained in corporate memories. In addition, once established and adopted
by the employees of an organization, organizational memories tend to grow
rapidly with large amounts of new knowledge being added on a continual
basis. This can become overwhelming to the users of the knowledge base
as its size grows larger, and can also reduce the quality of the knowledge
base if knowledge objects are not screened or evaluated before being added
to the knowledge base.
This paper examines the relationship between the support for personalization
of information by knowledge workers and the knowledge management process
within organizations. Specifically, it considers the beneficial interactions
and synergies that are possible between supporting personalization in a
personal digital library setting and the development and use of a corporate
knowledge base. In Section 2 a strategy for supporting the personalization
process in digital libraries is presented. The next section examines how
this strategy can be built upon and extended to offer support for the development,
use, and extension of a corporate knowledge base. Section 4 examines issues
surrounding the maintenance of quality within the knowledge base. The related
literature is considered in Section 5. The paper is
concluded in Section 6.
2 A Personal Digital Library Environment
As described in the previous section, the characteristics of today's
information landscape present a challenging environment in which to support
the personalization process. The diverse and distributed nature of the
information with which knowledge workers must interact pose particular
difficulties. The straightforward approach for supporting personalization
in which the system that owns or manages an information object supports
the personalization of the object is not necessarily a feasible one. For
instance, in the example from the previous section, a user created an annotation
for a satellite image being used to prepare a report. One strategy to support
this capability would be for it to be provided by the system that manages
the satellite image. This type of approach might be possible for a system
with a localized and limited user base. Tracking personalization information
for a widely used network based information system, however, is a much
different task. These systems have a potentially very large number of distributed
users. Supporting personalization with a centralized approach in this type
of environment would rapidly become difficult as the number of users grows
large. An additional problem is that personalization functionality is beyond
the original design scope of most current network based information systems.
Few have either the incentive or resources to support the personalization
process [Phelps et al. 1997; Hicks
et al. 1998].
This section presents a strategy for supporting the personalization
of diverse and distributed information objects. It begins with a description
of a personal digital
library architecture intended to support knowledge workers. A prototype
system based upon the architecture is then briefly described.
2.1 PADDLE Personalization Architecture
The Personal ADaptable Digital Library Environment (PADDLE) architecture
was designed to create a personalization environment for knowledge workers,
especially those with diverse and distributed information needs. Personalization
in this context refers to the ability of a user or group of users to customize
or modify information objects in a way that reflects personal preferences,
and facilitates their ability to perform a task. As described earlier,
the information world of today is an increasingly distributed and heterogeneous
one. This often requires knowledge workers to interact with a variety of
different systems in order to obtain the information they require. A primary
goal of the PADDLE architecture is to support personalization for all of
the information objects with which knowledge workers interact, regardless
of where the information is stored or by what system it is managed. This
goal significantly shaped the architecture and lead to two of the primary
characteristics of its approach for supporting personalization: that it
is decentralized and that it is metadata based.
The approach is decentralized in that the information required to represent
personalizations for individual users is not centrally stored within information
repositories. As described earlier, network based information repositories
can have a large if not unlimited user base. A strategy that centralizes
personalization functionality at the information repository would be increasingly
difficult to realize as the number of users increases. The PADDLE architecture
instead uses an approach that captures personalization information locally
(with respect to the user) as users interact with information items and
then maintains it in a decentralized way.
The PADDLE approach is metadata based in that metadata serves as the
mechanism for capturing and maintaining personalizations that are made
to information items. In its most basic form, metadata is simply data about
data. The use of metadata to support personalization was motivated by one
of its primary characteristics: that it can exist and be maintained completely
independent of the data to which it refers [Tochtermann
1997]. For example, consider a digital catalog system. The information
described by the metadata contained in the catalogue might exist locally
(with respect to the catalogue), it could be managed by a remote system,
or indeed it might not even be available in digital form. In any case,
it is possible for the metadata descriptions contained in the catalogue
to be defined and maintained separately from the information they refer
to. The approach described here exploits this characteristic of metadata
to enable the customization of data objects in a way that places no restrictions
on where the objects are stored or by which system they are managed. Write
or update access to the data objects being customized is not assumed or
required [Hicks et al. 1999].
The most common use of metadata is as a mechanism for describing information
resources in a general and broadly applicable way. For example, the metadata
descriptions contained in digital catalogue systems describe information
resources in a way that enables users to determine if a particular resource
is likely to be relevant for their task at hand. The descriptions need
to be general enough to be appropriate
for the variety of users of the digital catalogue system. The role of
metadata in the PADDLE architecture is a somewhat unconventional one. Instead
of being used to describe information resources in a general way, such
as the descriptions contained in a digital catalogue, metadata is instead
used at a much finer level of granularity. It serves as the basis for creating
individualized descriptions (or personalizations) of information
An overview of the PADDLE architecture is illustrated in Figure 1. The
shaded part of the figure represents a user's local computing environment.
Client applications are the tools that are used by knowledge workers to
access information. Example client applications include a web browser,
a database front end, or any tool used for information access. The information
resources illustrated in Figure 1 are the artifacts such as documents,
images, etc. that are accessed by knowledge workers. They can be located
anywhere on the network. The primary functional component of the architecture
is the Customization Metadata Manager (CMDM). As illustrated in Figure
1, the CMDM is positioned between client applications and the information
items they access. It is a server process that performs a range of functions
in response to client application requests. The most important functionality
provided by the CMDM is the creation of metadata to capture personalizations
made to information items.
Figure 1: Overview of the PADDLE Customization Architecture
Also shown in Figure 1 is the customization metadata store. This facility
provides persistence for personalizations that have been defined for information
items. Personalizations stored within the customization metadata store
are automatically applied to information items as they are accessed. Note,
the information items themselves are not stored in the customization metadata
store, it only contains personalizations. The customization metadata store
is structured into contexts, which are collections of related personalizations.
Contexts provide a mechanism to partition
the customization metadata store according to individual users or user
groups. Each user can define personalizations within their own private
context, preventing the personalizations made by one user from overlapping
or interfering with those of another. When necessary, a user can define
more than one context in order to organize their personalizations according
to the multiple tasks they are working on, or some other criteria. It is
also possible for contexts to be shared by a group of users, to support
Contexts can be arranged hierarchically, providing a layering mechanism
for personalizations. When arranged this way, multiple levels or scopes
of customization can be supported. For example, an organization may wish
to define a corporate wide context that contains a set of customizations
for information items that should be seen by all users within the organization.
A particular department within the organization might wish to extend it
with a set of customizations appropriate for members of the department.
These could be organized into a departmental context. Finally, an individual
member of the department might wish to further personalize information
items through the creation of a private context. These contexts could be
related hierarchically so that when a user accesses an information item,
any personalizations defined for it in the corporate context are first
applied, then any defined within the departmental context are applied,
and finally those from the individual context are applied.
An example usage scenario is helpful to demonstrate the interactions
between the various components of the architecture. Consider an image browsing
tool being used by a knowledge worker to access a remotely located satellite
image. The browser tool might be a client application in the environment
shown in Figure 1. The system where the satellite image
is actually located would correspond to an information resource provider
that is being accessed remotely. In order to access an image, the browser
tool can issue a request for the CMDM to retrieve it. The CMDM would contact
the appropriate remote information system to retrieve the image, and then
check its customization metadata store to determine if any personalizations
have been defined for the image by the current user. If no personalizations
have been defined for it, the image would simply be passed along directly
to the browser for display to the user. If personalizations have been defined
for the image, the CMDM would apply them before passing the image along
to the browser. While examining and working with the image, a user might
decide to somehow personalize it, such as by adding an annotation, or perhaps
changing an existing one. The browser tool could support such personalizations
by requesting the CMDM to create customization metadata records to capture
them. The records are stored in the customization metadata store and will
be automatically applied the next time the image is accessed by this particular
2.2 A Prototype Implementation
A prototype personal digital library environment has been constructed
based on the PADDLE architecture. The two main elements of the architecture,
the customization metadata manager and the customization metadata store,
have been implemented as individual software components. The CMDM has been
implemented in Java and is based upon the Netscape Fasttrack Web server.
A Microsoft Access database
currently provides the functionality of the customization metadata store.
The software components communicate using a range of standard protocols.
Communication between the CMDM and the metadata store takes place using
RMI, to facilitate distribution. Communication between the CMDM and external
or remote information systems is flexibly defined using abstract Java classes
so that a range of different protocols can be accommodated. Further details
of the base implementation can be found in [Tochtermann
et al. 1999].
A client application has been implemented and integrated into the environment
that enables users to access information objects from remote sources. The
client application interacts with the CMDM to enable users to view information
objects as well as perform customizations on those objects. Currently three
different information systems have been integrated into the prototype environment,
each of which contains information from professional content providers.
The first one contains a collection of over 2,000 Mircosoft Office documents,
the second one consists of over 100,000 HTML documents, and the third one
is the electronic thesis archive of a University. Each of these information
systems provide metadata descriptions of the resources they contain. The
prototype environment currently supports the personalization of these metadata
descriptions by users of the client application. The types of personalizations
permitted on the metadata descriptions include: the ability to change the
value of a metadata field, the ability to hide or delete a metadata field,
and the ability to define a new metadata field and specify a value for
As an example, consider a user working with an HTML document representing
an environmental report from one of the information systems. In the prototype
environment, the user would have the ability to personalize the metadata
description for the report by, for instance, changing a generic value which
has been specified for the subject field from "environmental report"
to something more specific, such as "coastal wetlands report".
This more precise value might reflect more specific or detailed knowledge
the user posses concerning this specific information resource, and personalizing
it will facilitate working with the resource. Alternatively, the user might
wish to define a new metadata field for the descriptions of the documents
in the information system to enable them to be classified according to
some new criteria, such as their relevance for a particular task being
performed. Finally, the user might wish to hide or delete one or more of
the fields in the document descriptions if they are not relevant for the
task at hand. This would enable them to focus and work more effectively
with those fields that are relevant.
Note that all of these personalizations would be performed within the
particular context specified by the user. This prevents the personalizations
made by one user from interfering with those of another. Of course, if
the current context is a group context and not an individual one, each
of the group members would see the effects of the customizations being
In addition to supporting personalizations, the prototype system also
enables the definition of personalized search forms. Users can design search
forms that allow them to include personalized fields when searching for
information. This enables them to exploit personalization information when
performing a search. For instance, the user described in the previous example
could search for resources by specifying a value for one of the fields
that has been customized, such as "coastal wetlands report"
for the subject field. Alternatively, a value can be specified for one
of the newly created fields.
In order to help users organize and keep track of the documents with
which they work, the prototype system provides the working space mechanism.
The working space provides a way to group together and organize a set of
related information items. For example, a user could create a working space
to help keep track of the information items needed to perform a specific
task. The items could be organized within the workspace according to topic
area, or whatever criteria is relevant to the task at hand.
3 Integrating Knowledge Management into Personal Digital Libraries
The PADDLE architecture as well as the prototype implementation were
both originally designed to establish a personal digital library environment
for knowledge workers. The capabilities it provides, however, can also
be used to support various aspects of the knowledge management process.
This section examines ways in which the functionality provided within the
architecture has been built upon and extended to support a specific facet
of knowledge management, the creation, use, and extension of a corporate
knowledge base by knowledge workers.
To build up a corporate knowledge base a shift in the paradigm of using
Internet information systems must take place. Today, knowledge workers
are primarily "passive" users of information systems, that is,
they access, download, and read information resources, but they do not
add new ones or tailor existing resources according to their own or to
a group of user's needs. As noted in the previous section, most current
Internet information systems do not support this functionality. However,
relevant studies in knowledge and information management have revealed
these capabilities to be important. They have shown that value-added services
for knowledge management should include the support of specialized knowledge
spaces that serve the needs of specific knowledge workers. For example,
knowledge spaces can be used to provide the capability to extend corporate
knowledge [Schatz et al. 1999]. While adapting resources
is a capability that is already supported by the PADDLE architecture and
prototype, extensions are required to develop a component for adding new
resources to create a corporate knowledge base.
A corporate knowledge base can be built up in an informal and unstructured
way, i.e., by capturing information in different layouts and formats and
recording all of the practices of an organization. Though such a free form
approach would be inexpensive to implement, it can also generate a lot
of irrelevant and unstructured information. To maintain the usability of
the corporate knowledge base, the need will soon arise to perform a number
of normalization operations such as filtering the irrelevant from the relevant
information resources, unifying the layout according to the thematic areas
to which an information resource belongs, structuring the information resources,
etc. [Buckingham Shum 1997]. In the PADDLE system,
a different approach is taken. The idea in PADDLE is to provide an environment
which supports a systematic and structured way of building a corporate
knowledge base. Even though this approach involves more time for the initial
development of a knowledge base, it will soon pay
off as no re-organization or optimization of the corporate knowledge
will be required later.
The approach for building corporate knowledge with PADDLE involves three
activities. Firstly, an organization must determine the different types
of knowledge objects they want to make available in their corporate knowledge
base. The types of knowledge objects may include reports, product descriptions,
meeting minutes, project reports, work practices, etc. Secondly, an organization
has to categorize the user groups that will be working with the knowledge
base. This is of particular importance as different knowledge workers need
different views of the knowledge base. In this context the personalization
and customization concepts of the PADDLE approach play an important role.
Thirdly, for each type of knowledge and each group of users, templates
are required which support the knowledge workers in preparing in a coherent
way the knowledge they want to add to the knowledge base.
As mentioned earlier, three remote data systems containing information
from professional content providers have been integrated into the current
PADDLE prototype environment. Introducing the possibility to add new knowledge
objects to the system prompts the question concerning where to store this
new knowledge. One approach is to store new knowledge objects along with
existing resources. The following drawbacks dissuaded us from pursuing
this strategy. Firstly, storing new knowledge along with existing resources
requires write access to remote data sources. This is quite counter to
one of the fundamental PADDLE philosophies that states remote data systems
should be treated as a black box [Tochtermann et al.
1999]. Secondly, an update of a remote data system by the content providers
could cause many problems in keeping the knowledge base consistent. For
example, an update may change or even delete the context of knowledge objects
added by the knowledge workers. The resulting situation might be one of
chaos where dangling knowledge objects have to be assigned to new contexts.
Therefore, we have chosen a different approach: all new knowledge objects
are stored in a separate database which is completely under control of
the PADDLE system and completely independent from the other remote data
In order to allow users to logically put their knowledge objects into
the context of existing resources we provide the concept of profiles. Profiles
build upon the workspace concept described earlier. A profile is a structured
collection of resources and knowledge objects which have something in common.
For example, objects in a profile may address the same topic or they may
be the ones needed to perform a specific task. The PADDLE system distinguishes
between two types of profiles: public and private. Public profiles can
be accessed and used by all knowledge workers of an organization. However,
write access to these profiles is only granted to authorized persons. Individual
knowledge workers can create and maintain private profiles which are not
accessible to the others within the organization. Private profiles allow
knowledge workers to create a personal knowledge space in which they can
compile resources from remote data systems, knowledge objects from an organization's
knowledge base, and also knowledge objects from local sources, such as
their local filesystem.
The profile mechanism is depicted in Figure 2. On
the left side of the figure a screen dump from the profile explorer is
displayed. The profile explorer is a graphical tool for defining and working
with profiles. In this case, a number of profiles can be
seen in the screen display. In the upper part of the screen the user's
private profiles (e.g., "Climate Change" and "Kyoto Protocol")
are shown, indicated by a light gray icon. The public profiles (e.g., "Climate",
"Mobility and Transport", etc.) are shown below the private ones,
and are indicated with a darker gray icon. Unlike public profiles, private
profiles can contain knowledge objects from local sources, such as the
local file system. For example, the private profile "Climate Change"
contains the "CO2 Emission" information object. Note that a different
icon is used to distinguish those knowledge objects that come from local
Figure 2: Public and private profiles
All customization features provided by the PADDLE system as described
earlier can be applied to the knowledge objects in profiles. Additionally,
the PADDLE concept of working space has been extended to offer a very flexible
environment for personalizations. Each customization of knowledge objects
in profiles is valid in the context of only one working space. This makes
it possible to apply different customizations of the same knowledge objects
in different working spaces.
Even though the differentiation between private and public profiles
match up well with the basic requirements of knowledge workers, we encountered
another challenge primarily concerning public profiles. Knowledge objects
can sometimes be very rich in content (e.g., a product description). When
working with rich content knowledge objects, often only a subset of the
complete content of the object is required for a specific task. Sometimes
the presence of the additional, irrelevant content can hinder a knowledge
worker's ability to perform the task. They become overloaded or distracted
by the presence of so much information, especially the irrelevant information
they do not need.
One strategy to address this problem is to divide a knowledge object
into several smaller ones. However, there are difficulties with this approach.
Firstly, it would be difficult to choose the correct granularity into which
to divide knowledge objects. Different knowledge workers as well as different
groups of knowledge workers have different needs, so choosing a single,
correct granularity level would be difficult.
Secondly, when knowledge objects are divided into smaller ones, the
overall number of knowledge objects would increase dramatically, and this
could create storage concerns. Thirdly, the process of dividing knowledge
objects into smaller ones would destroy the knowledge that is inherent
in their relationship as subcomponents of the same object. A mechanism
would be required to preserve the knowledge that is implicit in their original
The solution we have chosen is based on the PADDLE approach to supporting
personalization and customization. All knowledge objects (except for those
located at remote data systems) are represented in an XML format. Different
XSL style sheets are then used to adapt a knowledge object "on the
fly" to the specific needs of a knowledge worker or group of knowledge
workers. Figure 3 depicts this concept. The PADDLE middleware component
provides different XSL style sheets for different groups of knowledge workers.
Whenever a knowledge worker or a certain group of knowledge workers accesses
a knowledge object, the XSL style sheets provided for this group are used
to customize the knowledge object "on the fly" according to specific
needs of the group. With this approach we can assure that knowledge workers
are always accommodated with those parts of a knowledge object which are
most relevant for their task at hand.
Figure 3: Customization of Knowledge Objects using XML and
Figure 4 illustrates how the XML/XSL strategy for
supporting customization works in practice. The two windows shown in the
lower part of the figure illustrate the same document being displayed in
different ways, according to the personalizations defined by different
user groups. There are obvious differences in the formatting of the document
such as font, font size, text color, etc. In addition, there are differences
in how the content of the document is being displayed. In the display on
the left, the metadata fields for the document are being displayed at the
top followed by the actual document content. In the display on the right,
only the document contents are displayed, accommodating a user group performing
a task for which the metadata fields are not relevant.
At the technical level, Java servlets of the PADDLE middleware components
are used for performing these customizations. Using pre-defined XSL style
sheets, the servlets generate different HTML documents on the basis of
existing XML documents.
Figure 4: Customized Knowledge Objects 4 Maintaining Quality
The level of quality of the knowledge in a corporate knowledge base
directly influences its acceptance and use by members of the organization.
In order for people to use the knowledge base and exploit it as a tool
for the tasks they perform, they must be confident in the knowledge it
contains. To maintain an acceptable quality level, it is imperative that
new knowledge go through a quality assurance process before being made
In the PADDLE approach, quality assurance is part of a linear overall
workflow process that serves to edit, review, release, and disseminate
knowledge objects to a predefined group of users. The first step of the
quality assurance portion of the process ensures that the knowledge objects
can be searched for effectively. It is a formal check to make sure that
all of the metadata fields of a knowledge object are assigned valid values
according to a predefined data type definition. In the second step of the
quality assurance process, the plausibility of the values of metadata fields
are checked to ensure they are reasonable. While the first part of the
quality assurance process can be done automatically, the second part, the
check to make sure the values are reasonable, requires the intellectual
assessments of experts in the relevant field, and thus cannot be done automatically.
This check regarding the quality of the content of the knowledge object
provides an opportunity to ensure that resources being added to the knowledge
base meet the quality standards of the organization.
When assessing the quality of the content of knowledge objects, two
levels of quality certificates are defined: restricted and public. The
quality certificate is defined by the user wishing to add knowledge to
the corporate knowledge base.
The certificate chosen for a knowledge object determines if it has to
go through both steps of the quality assurance process, or only the first
one. The certificate also determines how widely a knowledge object is made
available within the knowledge base. Knowledge objects with a restricted
quality certificate only have to pass the first step of the quality assurance
process. This ensures that they have well-defined metadata and can thus
be searched for effectively. Since no check against the reasonableness
of actual metadata values is carried out, such knowledge objects are made
available only within restricted areas of the knowledge base to which selected
knowledge workers have access.
The public quality certificate requires that a knowledge object go through
both steps of the quality assurance process. Once an object with a public
quality certificate passes both of these steps, it is made available to
all users of the corporate knowledge base. The differentiation between
these two types of certificates has proven valuable for the sharing of
knowledge objects which exist in a premature or preliminary version only.
In some organizations, such knowledge objects are of great importance for
certain groups of users (e.g., a strategic planning group) which have to
rely on the latest information about new trends, new legislation, etc.
Finally, users can assign priorities to the knowledge objects before
they enter the quality assurance process, indicating how urgent it is for
the knowledge object to be inspected and released into the knowledge base.
Priorities are of particular importance for the second step of the quality
assurance process as they provide the experts involved a way to determine
the order in which they should assess the quality of the content of a potential
new knowledge object. Figure 5 depicts the main steps involved in the quality
At the technical level, the quality assurance component capitalizes
on the XML and DTD defined for different types of knowledge objects. The
formal check (step 1 of the process) verifies if the metadata provided
for knowledge objects adheres to the predefined DTD. For example, this
includes if all relevant metadata fields have meaningful values. If a knowledge
object did not pass one of the checks involved in the process, the reasons
are recorded in a report (represented as the shaded rectangle in Figure
Figure 5: Quality assurance process
5 Related Work
To date, much digital library research has focused on infrastructure
issues such as the technologies necessary to create large information repositories
and information retrieval and indexing techniques [Goh
et al. 2000]. However, support for personalization and customization
is a topic that is starting to be considered. The Stanford Digital Library
Infobus [Paepcke et al. 1999] provides an infrastructure
which is similar to the one described here. Much like the CMDM in the PADDLE
approach, the Infobus is designed to pull all components of a distributed
digital library together. Library services built into the Infobus provide
the necessary support functions, including query translation and metadata
facilities. The main difference, however, is that the Infobus models documents
stored in the remote information sources as objects while in the PADDLE
approach, no abstraction of the original documents exists in the CDMD.
Also, the Stanford Digital Library supports hierarchical metadata models
while at present the PADDLE approach allows only flat models.
The Patron-Augmented Digital Library project seeks to develop a digital
library to support digital scholarship [Goh et al. 2000].
Four phases have been identified in the digital scholarship process: acquiring,
structuring, authoring, and then publishing information. The Synchrony
prototype digital library system has been developed to support each of
these phases. While in the PADDLE approach to supporting personalization,
the type of customizations allowed is essentially open ended, in Synchrony,
emphasis is placed on supporting a subset of customizations identified
as especially relevant to digital scholarship, such as creating annotations.
The publishing phase of the Synchrony project is intended to provide control
over the addition of new materials to the library. This shares many similarities
with the quality control mechanisms described here.
This paper has presented and integrated research we have conducted in
knowledge management and digital libraries during the past four years.
The focus has not been on the presentation of new concepts that have not
been presented elsewhere. Instead, the emphasis has been on the synthesis
of results from these two areas, and the main contribution has been placing
them into the same context for the first time. This opens up new perspectives
which can provide a starting point for further research in the fields of
knowledge management and digital libraries. And indeed, this paper showed
that many synergy effects exist between knowledge management and digital
libraries. Sophisticated knowledge management tools and digital libraries
are both based on many of the same technologies, which facilitates the
integration of concepts developed in each research area. The paper also
showed that efficient knowledge management requires more than just a consideration
of the organizational perspective. A lot of its success depends on how
well individual knowledge workers are supported in performing their specific
and personal tasks. These tasks often required knowledge that is specially
customized and personalized according to a knowledge worker's needs, skills,
and experiences. The highest leverage effect can be achieved when a
personal digital library system provides the personalized information
and a personal knowledge management tool supports the creation, storage,
and use of the personal knowledge of a knowledge worker. It is the combination
of the two which can lead to a tremendous increase in efficiency for almost
all types of knowledge intensive tasks.
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