I've been thinking a lot about Knowledge Management and the Semantic Web lately - partly because that topic was one of the top-scorers for the International Semantic Web conference "Semantic web in use" track. And partly because it seems that this is the topic that, even more than data integration, attracts customers to the Semantic Web.
An interesting trend I see in many of my customers and many projects is the predominance of the Google Mystique - the observation that Google reliably brings up the most relevant web page for any input query, if not as its first hit, then certainly in the top five. It even corrects the query if something is spelled wrong! Of course, the pesky fact that it is quite an art to manipulate Google to behave in this way does little to squelch this expectation.
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that others are thinking of harnessing the power of smart people to answer questions on the web. This isn't the first time someone has thought about this; websites like about.com have been bringing communities together to answer questions for a long time now. The difference here is that the interactions will be with real, living people who will bring their experience to bear on a problem.
Contrast this with the conventional wisdom of knowledge management, that says that knowledge workers are far too busy with their knowledge work to even think about how their workproducts will be used. Conventional wisdom says that a knowledge worker will not spend five minutes to tag an item that took three weeks to finish, just to make sure that the right person reads it at the right time. What's wrong with this picture?
But we can get smart people to stand by ready to answer questions from web searchers, to help them find things at query time. I wish ChaCha the best - maybe I'll even spend some time as a guide. Do you suppose there is a lot of call for someone who knows their way around the webpages about the Semantic Web?