Help me save the Knowledge Hub (in some form)

An email from the Knowledge Hub team at the LGA:

As Knowledge Hub user I felt it necessary to contact you with this news. You may have read in today’s press due to cost the LGA are proposing to close the Knowledge Hub facility. There is statutory 30 day consultation period (consultation closes on 23 June) on these proposals. As project lead I am very sorry to have to bring you this news. Many of you have invested time and effort in the platform and we as a team have worked extremely hard to deliver what we feel is a valuable and vital service for local government at this difficult time.

The organisation has decided that in the face of further cuts funding is unsustainable.

This is a terrible shame for local government. Cross sector sharing of knowledge and learning is vital if councils are to meet the challenges they face.

I know I could make the Knowledge Hub work: with a change of technology, a new business model, and some great community management.

I think we can make the Knowledge Hub – or whatever it might be called – like LocalGovCamp – only all the time and everywhere.

I suspect I need to convince the LGA to let me do this. After all, I want the existing content on the Knowledge Hub to import into the new system, and the user data too. Otherwise, starting from scratch will most likely make life extremely difficult.

So, I’d like some help. The best form is probably in expressions of support, perhaps publicly on the comments of this post. If you think local government needs a knowledge sharing platform, and you think I might be the person to make a decent fist of it, then do please let me, and the LGA, know.

Thanks!

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Comments

  1. John Courouble says

    Hi,

    I had a similar but different idea, which was to do something very simple and as cheap as possible (ideally for almost nothing), aggregating key documents, uploading information which is already produced anyway (eg we produce a diary of interesting events, Cornwall produce a weekly policy news bulletin, and so on) and some free features – forums, polls, and so on.

    I agree that it will be key to get the existing members of the knowledge hub informed about the new version at least, and directly moved across if possible. Happy to discuss with you, was planning to lever some help in from the dizzying heights of the Association of County Chief Executives’ Advisory Group (Vice-Chairman, the power!)

    Drop me an e-mail.

    Cheers,

    John

  2. says

    I’ve just emailed them asking if they’re going to keep it as an archive at least? I think part of the problem was that even though many people joined the site there wasn’t really much sign of activity and feedback on that activity. Despite this, I still found it a useful place to try to share and get feedback on ideas, especially as it was as close to a commercially neutral place as I have found.

    • Dave Briggs says

      Great news – and I agree on the openness. First job would be to replicate what already exists and port content and users, and then we could start looking at improvements.

  3. Mark Braggins says

    I was a regular user of the original Communities of Practice and was excited at the prospect of Knowledge Hub keeping the good bits and bringing it up to date.

    I’ve tried to use KH a bunch of times but, despite desperately wanting it to work, have found it clunky and frustrating. I also agree about the openness – most of the content should be open.

    Reckon you could do a lot with something like WordPress without needing to spend a great deal.

    Yes please Dave. I’m sure you could make KH work. I’m very happy to support a bid, help etc

    Cheers, mark

  4. Mark Braggins says

    I’ve just realised that closing the existing KH would affect staff which would be extremely counter-productive. My beef has been with the platform, not the people who have been helpful, informative and doing their very best with the tools provided. We need people to feed and manage any hub.

    • Dave Briggs says

      Agreed – the team did a great job with what they had. Thoughts with everyone who is in danger of losing their job.

  5. says

    Think we definitely need to have a place where we can share knowledge and collaborate online across the local public services community (and with those who want to participate in it!).

    Second what Mark said, I thought communities of practice was a really good way to introduce #localgov people to some of the new ways of using technology to work together. The team behind it have always been more than helpful and looking to introduce people to methods to share knowledge effectively.

    You’ve got my support!

    • Dave Briggs says

      Thanks David. Hoping to use this opportunity to weave several strands of recent thinking into the same bit of rope!

      • says

        Thanks Dave – obviously the priority is some continuity for khub users. Do you then think the new set up might be open to others involved in local services, and community action? I think the community organisers and enablers would benefit from direct contact with local government practice and vice versa. Maybe an issue for any get-together, which is getting some support from Mark and Steve Dale over here http://socialreporter.com/?p=2464

  6. Adrian Barker says

    I was really shocked to see this news. Particularly sorry for the impact on the staff involved.

    I also think it’s a strategic mistake. I appreciate times are really tough, but if you’re going to support improvement in local government then surely this is a cost effective way to do it. Getting practitioners to share experience and support each other is both cost effective and a more responsive way of dealing with a fast changing world than having experts researching and writing up their advice (although that still has a place).

    I’m glad you’re looking to try and develop some alternative Dave, and happy to provide some sort of support if I can.

  7. says

    Excellent idea Dave. We have discussed in the past the untapped potential of this and I think you are in a good position to take this forward. I would request that any development makes it more open so that those outside local government can access and contribute freely. There is added value to bring to this not only from us ‘consultants’ but local community activists too.

    All the best

  8. heidi de wolf says

    I am a regular KH user and have been very busy campaigning for the use of this collaborative platform across my organisation. There is nothing else that brings together the lessons from across the public sector in the same way. Collaboration is the future of many organisations and platforms like these are central to that. It has however taken some patience to get it adopted as to date the use if social media inside the public sector is only just finding its feet.

    I would love to assist in whatever format possible.

    I agree it needs to be broadened out as many private, community and voluntary organizations are delivering public sector services.

  9. Tom Phillips says

    My own, very unstructured, thoughts are that maybe thinking in terms of one single solution, or platform, might simply be to reinvent a proven wobbly wheel. If Khub has become too big to sustain as it stands, why not downsize it in some way – settle on a core of issues, and cut others adrift? There were many Communities of Practice, and later much on Khub that, for example, had/have a strong link to core local government functions, and many that really didn’t/don’t.

    Is there not scope to create or allow the formation of, a “network of networks”? The management of each could be independent, or at most, part of a federation of sharing mechanisms?

    Dave, you’re surely not suggesting that you could, or would even want to, create a Khub successor containing the total mish-mash that is Khub, are you?

    • Dave Briggs says

      Hi Tom

      Worth checking out David W’s blog on a lot of this – many smaller scale communities of practice have a habit of dying out; more distributed tools like Twitter are good at sharing knowledge but terrible at retrieval, etc.

      I’ll be publishing my thoughts on how this could work very soon, but here’s some initial quick thoughts:

      1) run on startup lines, the khub could work, where the focus is on delivering one thing well – ie the communities on the platform; and not being just one thing a big organisation is trying to do
      2) the technology needs simplifying and the running costs rationalising dramatically
      3) a business model based on the core community offering being free and with premium services, training and events sold around it
      4) the focus needs to be wider and the platform be available for every sector to use, whether public, civic or private

      I’ve been chatting with others for a while about the fact that there isn’t an effective platform for managing learning communities. All the current offerings fall short of the mark. Done right, the Khub will be something that local gov will find useful, along with others working for the public good, and also something that people will find is worth paying for.

      • Tom Phillips says

        Dave,

        I’d read David’s piece. Your final comments seem to me to reach my loose idea of a network of networks, but by another route. However, i do very much agree that the gold lies in cracking the issue of knowledge retrieval. Traditional social media tools are great at conversation and signposting, but much of what is shared like that is ephemeral and has a minimal shelf-life. How would you deal with separating the wheat from the chaff? I’ve got a feeling that trying to make everything retrievable is too big a task, and moreover, not necessary.

        The broad business model is one that many others have embraced. I belong to a few networks like that myself, in several walks of life. A dilemma is always the need to have top wisdom, content etc in the paid options, especially if you find your best creators, sharers, etc are happy to stay within the free options.

        • heidi de wolf says

          From a curators perspective, the Knowledge Hub has the potential to bring together knowledge from other smaller networks. If you want communities to survive you do need to be confident in personal knowledge management, curation and facilitation skills.

          Communities need nurishment.

  10. says

    Tom made a similar comment on my site (thanks Tom) and I replied as below, but before I had read your thoughts above Dave. Maybe it’s not either or. The socialreporters, network builders and curators will need a home, and many users will want a space with the various offerings you mention. The challenge, using Steve Dale’s term, is what sort of social ecology do we want to help evolve, and how much is landscaping and how much gardening.
    I’m with Christine, and I think you, in hoping we can do something that goes beyond local government.
    I wonder if we can start to identify some network builders and storylines as well as looking at the core tech.
    I posted a comment over here http://socialreporter.com/?p=2464
    Thanks Tom, you have expressed succinctly what has been at the back of my mind in writing earlier posts including this one about a “kit and caboodle” http://socialreporter.com/?p=2421
    Maybe we need a different appoach which recognises:
    - the individual and their different roles and requirements
    - as part of that, the fact that people will be using different devices and getting and sharing content in lots of other ways too
    - that means they are part of many personal networks across different online systems
    - people have to develop the ability to seek, sense, share and build their personal networks, as Harold Jarche and indeed Steve have been saying
    - the added value then comes, as I think you indicate, from helping connect the networks and surface and strong storylines. Something I’m calling socialreporting as a mix of curating and more proactive storytelling.
    I think that ties in with the idea of social ecosystems that Steve is developing.
    The issue then is the viability of the ecosystem, rather than a one-size-fits-all platform. I hope we can get a group together to address the fascinating design issues.

  11. says

    Hi Dave,

    I think I’d agree with much of what is written above and am glad that you, and hopefully a network or likeminded people, are willing to take it on; I remain unconvinced by the central approach of the K-Hub but it sounds like much of what is written above is to try and fix some of that…

    Anything we at WLLG can do to help (I’m sure Glen has some thoughts!) please do let us know.

    Gareth

    • says

      What Gareth said… ;-)

      I’ve had my issues with the implementation of the K-Hub but not the need for it. If taken back to the original intentions it could be awesome, alternatively even if it was just made more usable it could have more of a central place.

      Lots of ideas and more opinions on this than may prove helpful, but as Gareth said let us know if we can help in any way.

      Glen

      • Dave Briggs says

        Would the yammer group you guys run take the place of Khub in some way?

        I know Microsoft are interested in how Yammer could support this sort of knowledge sharing across the sector.

  12. Heather Jack says

    Definitely interested in any attempt to save Khub in some form. We have seen value already in our Records and Information Management Scotland KHub and connecting IRM professionals with wider public sector community. Are there timescales for the KHub to cease?

  13. says

    Hi Dave – this really is an important issue and one I would be happy to lend a hand to. There is scope to make this a more widely available resource and also draw in practice from the fringes of the public sector.
    Anything I can do to support you just shout.
    Cheers
    Paul

  14. says

    I’ve been in discussion with David Wilcox about pulling together a meeting of interested parties to discuss the various options (including Dave’s Localgovcamp idea) and formulating a joint response to the LGA consultation. I’ve sent an invitation email out to gauge the interest, but not sure if all the respondents here are on my distribution. If anyone is interested, let me know (steve.dale@gmail.com), or comment here and I’ll pick it up.

    Steve

  15. says

    I should probably start by saying that I recently carried out a review of the KHub for the LGA to help them think through their options in the face of their immediate financial challenges and I think we have to remember that this is the context for this and also that it puts a lot of staff in very uncertain place. I know this is in common with so many bits of the public sector but as other respondents have said its important to remember while we are talking about this.

    My conclusion was that the KHub needs a rethink as it has suffered from various forms of scope creep but that there is great value in it in terms of relationships and content as well as in the potential for sector wide collaboration. It would be a huge loss to the LGA and the Sector if it were to be completely cut.

    My understanding is that this really is a consultation period – as much for internal consultation as for external – and so its good to be looking at other concrete proposals and I am really happy to help with this if I can. I think there is a lot more that could be done via more open channels and networks leaving the KHub to focus on the activity that really needs more focused collaborative spaces plus curating knowledge from other places.

    Speaking from my own POV however I think we have to remember that the LGA is a Member led organisation and much of the activity on the KHub is officer driven – it may be simply not on members radar. If its to be central to the LGA in the future then this will have to be addressed. This comment perhaps comes from the fact that my head is in the networked councillor stuff but I think its an important part of this conversation.

    Dave – what are your plans for taking this forward? Happy to help where I can…

  16. Niall Smith says

    Hallo all,

    is it the prohibitive cost of ongoing development of the platform that is really the problem?

    Does it have to be a walled garden? Could the LGA team work with Linkedin? Who also happen to have a lot of cash that could be used to keep the skills and resource of community management built up by the Khub team available to the sector. Could eb some interesting learning for them around distributed learning and driving innovation in conservative industries…

    Has anyone tried approaching them? I’ll see if I can rustle up some contacts

    • Dave Briggs says

      Don’t think it’s the development cost that is the real issue in those terms Niall, more the cost of maintaining the thing – some of the figures I have heard bandied around for hosting etc would make your eyes water.

  17. says

    I agree with retaining the KHub if possible, but if they are going to close it then I think Dave could do a good job in replacing it with an open platform.

    Please don’t link up with a single supplier, eg LinkedIn, as that will force people to join these and put people off. How about using an OpenID approach, that works across several social platforms / email providers.

  18. says

    Sharing and improving access to knowledge. It’s a nobrainer really. Lets make it more open, intuitive, and shareable and let me know how I can help.

  19. says

    fwiw

    KHub is valuable to me as a space to discuss and learn from others. However, it is valued only by a very small proportion of others in my organisation (less than 10%). That’s partly because most don’t know KHub (or anything like it) exists and/or how it can be helpful for the day-to-day job. Nevertheless, 10% of staff from 400 odd orgs is a large and sustainable community.

    Sorry to say that KHub is not as valuable to me as CoP was nor the #localgov Twittersphere, informal blog and other networks. CoP was pretty old fashioned technology wise but, for one reason or another, worked. Old school platforms like forums and iRC can work very well if the that’s what the community is happy with.

    I guess in summary:

    - there is a sustainable online KHub/localgov community
    - if there is to be a dedicated space, then it needs to be managed/curated/promoted
    - technology won’t necessary drive traffic there

  20. says

    I was devasted when I heard about the KHub closing as I felt the late starters were just beginning to catch on. Just days before I’d had a meeting with the LGA team about running a pilot on the Social Media & Online Collaboration group which would let people benchmark themselves so they could identify mentors and mentees. I’m also going to have to change some slides on various presentations and workshops I do.
    Dave I’m up for helping in any way I can because I think the KHub is wirth saving in some form. You know where I am if you need me.

  21. claire winfield says

    I agree with most of what has been said above, but there are two issues I’m not so certain about.

    One of the advantages of the KHUB and previously the CoP not being open to all, is that it does not have Suppliers and Commercial Organisations involved and keeps all the issues of ‘sales’ well out of the equation. Part of the reason that we are allowed and encouraged to use this platform, is that it is specifically a local government entity and not a general free for all.

    Secondly, the other major advantage of the KHUB being part of the LGA and thus a .GOV website means that I don’t have any issues in accessing it. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook etc, are not available over large numbers of secure networks and so anything that utilises these platforms (LinkedIn having been mentioned above) would not work for us.

  22. Alissa says

    Something along the lines of Khub is definately worth preserving. Local authorities need to keep learning from each other to improve and a digital solution makes most sense at a time when funding is short.

  23. Jayne Cole says

    I would be happy to support a new cross sector Local Gov forum. It sounds like something we would useful here at SALC.

    • Dave Briggs says

      Jayne – good news! Related to this, I’ve been chatting to Justin for ages about a need for an online knowledge sharing and collaboration space for parish and town councils…

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