I notice that eGov Monitor has partnered with Socitm for the launch of GovXchange, which, according to the press release is “a knowledge-sharing platform that can support communities of interest around specific topics. GovXchange will not only collect and disseminate published information (like its forerunner, egov exchange), it will also enable users to create and share new knowledge and information by building private or public ‘spaces’ around their professional interests.”
Sounds great, but having signed up to several of these ‘spaces’ back in December 2006, I’ve yet to see any sign of collaboration or knowledge sharing. Despite having an average of twenty or so other members in the communities (spaces) I have joined, there are no discussions, no forum entries, no wiki contributions and nothing in the ‘knowledge’ sections – in fact, they are probably better described as ‘empty spaces’. And before I’m taken to task on this, I have started the one and only forum thread in the ‘spaces’ I have joined.
The key issue here, is the belief that a community of interest or practice can self-germinate. This is not the approach we’ve taken in developing the IDeA Communities of Practice. Similar in concept to GovXchange in terms of providing a platform for providing (and encouraging) knowledge sharing, but with no commercial baggage, and with each community being professionally facilitated. There is little risk of having empty spaces, because the facilitator ‘seeds’ the forum and knowledge library as part of the pre-launch planning activities.
However, this might prove an interesting experiment in community dynamics – i.e. how effective is a non-facilitated community compared with a facilitated one? I’ll keep an eye on this and provide an update in a month or so.