From the Editor’s Chair

August 31, 1999

This issue has a host of items which I feel bound to draw to readers’ attention. There is a topical piece from Richard Cohen reflecting on IT, commoditisation and the implications for the high street lawyer; there are excellent law pieces on the Mars case and its implications, consultants’ duties and liabilities and the implementation of the Data Protection Act; and this issue’s interview gives an interesting insight into – Dr Willie Black. And a good deal more.

However, there is no doubt that the issue is dominated by articles on knowledge management and related matters. I think that we have succeeded in providing a range of approaches and that the full range of SCL members, experts and innocents, will find something of use. I think there are a couple of outstandingly useful pieces.

I feel bound to supply some justification for so much material on knowledge management. I do not personally see knowledge management as an IT issue so there is some apparent contradiction in including material on it within these pages. One of the things that marks it out and makes it intriguing is that it defies easy classification: it is massively IT based but it is ‘information system’ led. Of course there are IT issues within the knowledge management field, and there are an increasing number of knowledge management posers set for IT experts. As Delia Venables remarks in her ‘Buzzword Buster’ reflections on knowledge management, there is substantial jockeying for position in the development of knowledge management systems – and very often IT departments see themselves as potential owners even if they do not want to don the silks and ride the horse.

As so often with difficult problems of classification, the real answer is to create a new category. The real danger is that knowledge management will be categorised – and then confined by its categorisation.

What shines through the articles we run in this issue is that knowledge management affects every part of the firm and that it can only succeed if it is accepted at every level. There is an eerie echo here of the messages which leading SCL members have been propounding for many years about IT generally – let us hope that their success in finally getting that message through will make this message easier to communicate.

Laurence Eastham




Consulting Editor, Scotland: John Sibbald, Professional Library Services

Please send contributions to the Co-ordinating Editor:
Laurence Eastham
Co-ordinating Editor
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