BlawgThink 2005: Some quick thoughts (in anticipation of more detail later)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend BlawgThink 2005 in Chicago. Organizers Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy put on an excellent program.

I’m not an attorney, or even involved in the legal profession, so the first question I got from a lot of folks was, “So why are you here again?” And though it is true that much of the conference and discussion that took place was specific to how blogs can be used to support the legal profession, the questions/techniques/solutions that were presented can be (and are being) applied to most any individual or organization that wants to blog.

It’s taken me this long to put something together about it because there was just so much to take in and so many great people to meet, especially my fellow St. Louis bloggers. Even the process of the conference provided much to think about in terms of group dynamics and behavior. Basically, my head is still spinning a bit as I try to assimilate it and figure out how best to write about it.

Many others have already posted some summaries and other thoughts on BlawgThink, so instead of trying to write my own I’ll just point them to you here.

I expect the next batch of my posts will be focused on my thoughts about specific aspects of the conference, such as why/how/when blogs are useful, specific blogging platforms and styles, etc etc. I’ll also talk a bit more about MindManager, which played a key role in the planning and execution of the conference.

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Technology makes it easy to ‘remember,’ the trick is learning how to forget

My early days in Knowledge Management included a lot of time developing, deploying, and getting people to use “knowledge repositories.” (At least trying to get people to use them.) A worthwhile endeavor in some regards, I’ve always had misgivings about the whole idea, at least how it has been implemented in most cases. The cheapness of mass storage these days, and the way we just keep everything, has nagged at this misgiving over the past couple of years.

I finally realized one day that the problem has become not, “How do we remember all this knowledge that we’ve learned?” but rather, “How do forget all this knowledge we’ve accumulated that we no longer need so we can focus on what we do need?” This same question has come up, albeit in a different context, in that other domain in which I blog: autism.

MOM – Not Otherwise Specified recently posted a very interesting piece about the role of memory, and the inability to purge it, in autistic behaviors. In her post, she quotes Paul Collins’ new book The trouble with Tom:

Memory is a toxin, and its overretention – the constant replaying of the past – is the hallmark of stress disorders and clinical depression. The elimination of memory is a bodily function, like the elimination of urine. Stop urinating and you have renal failure: stop forgetting and you go mad.

This also plays on my long-held dislike of best practices, at least how most people implement them. If you are so caught up in what has happened before, it is hard to get caught up in what is to come.