Content Aggregators vs. Subscription Services in the Field of Knowledge Management

Content Aggregators and Subscription Services

For those who manage knowledge management portals for their organization, business, or in personal capacities, they need to be aware of the different sources of knowledge acquisition and retention especially in the internet age when we are literally drowning in a sea of information. For instance, there is a difference between content aggregators like Google that cull content from all over the internet and the knowledge that individual experts, organizations, and businesses have. In other words, content aggregators whether it is Google or other portals merely pull the content from all over the internet based on a unique ranking system of public choice, user reviews, SEO or Search Engine Optimization, and pure commercial considerations. On the other hand, individual research and consultancy portals are those that have acquired the expertise and store the knowledge gained from extensive research by them or their partners based on in depth field studies and empirical and practical experiments. The point we are trying to make here is that those who are either looking for knowledge or are in the process of setting up a Knowledge Management (KM) portal need to understand the fact that there is a difference between search results returned by content aggregators and the individual pieces of research that specialized websites of consultancies and research institutions.

Some Things to Consider for your Knowledge Management (KM) Portal

Continuing in the same vein, the critical aspect here is that most of the search results returned by Google are those in the public domain. While we are not saying that such research is not valid for KM portals, the fact remains that managers of KM portals should also go in for copyrighted and subscription based research and reports that would be fact checked and consistent as well as backed by solid research and impeccable credentials. Of course, in these times where most research is being put up in the public domain without copyright, it makes sense to refer to Google or other content aggregators for culling information. However, the caveat or the note of caution is that it is better to check the KM artifacts returned by Google for veracity and reliability before publishing it on your KM site. This would greatly enhance your KM portal’s prestige and reputation as being worthy of referring. This is the reason why many experts caution against relying too much on Wikipedia as the accuracy of the content in that site is under question in many cases.

Some Points to Consider before adopting a particular Business Model

Talking about Google and Wikipedia, the distinction needs to be made whereas the former is merely a content aggregator; the latter is a full-fledged reference portal. Therefore, if you want your KM portal to be like Wikipedia and at the same time, be considered more accurate and reliable than it, you must invest substantial time and energy as well as devoted effort to make your KM portal on par with the leading research websites. Moreover, it would be good if you can follow a subscription-based model instead of a laissez faire model that sometimes leads to too much free flowing format of presentation of the knowledge and too little fact checking and consistency checking. However, if you are against copyright and associated models, then you can consider contributions to substitute for subscriptions. Of course, you still need to vet the submissions before placing them on your portal. The clear implication of this is that whichever model you choose, you must ensure that adequate time and effort are spent in developing your KM portal.

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, we have considered how content aggregators work and how subscription based research and consultancy websites work. We have also discussed how you can go about building your KM portal and the business model to be followed. The clear conclusion that one arrives at is that the process of building a KM portal must be methodical and elaborate and you must not take shortcuts to save time or money.


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