A knowledge center is an Internet-based community or system designed to help people remotely share information. Knowledge centers offer a variety of tools and accessories that enable the immediate or delayed sending and receiving of information. This can include online chat rooms, discussion boards, downloadable texts and other materials, and sometimes even the ability to chat with multiple users via videoconferencing. A knowledge center is usually set up within a community where its advantages are far-reaching and utilitarian, offering the ability to “information swap” among groups of people who otherwise could not communicate due to geographic or time constraints.
Usually, knowledge centers are highly specialized and niched, designed with a very specific audience in mind. Most knowledge centers fall under categories that fit within the realm of education (the center facilitates the needs of educators and students) or within the realm of a particular industry or even corporation. There are knowledge centers for those in the medical sciences, for example, who use the knowledge centers to further the reach of their own research while simultaneously catching up on new research, events, and findings of other colleagues. In this way, a knowledge center promotes the rapid progression of an industry or particular subject matter and allows for faster solutions by way of synergy. An online community of experts and highly interested parties in a constant state of contribution are the life force of successful knowledge centers in every thinkable genre.
WHAT MAKES A KNOWLEDGE CENTER?
A knowledge center must implement some method by which people can communicate and swap important information. The methods for doing this must be efficient and either free or very economical to ensure their use; if they are not, like-minded people with a particular interest will access another knowledge center.
There must be constant updates to a knowledge center, and therefore there is a need for an administrator who can update the online content of the site, ensure that users are playing by the rules, check that live content does not violate any copyrights, and make sure the center is as efficient as it can be. For a university or corporate knowledge center, an administrator may be its own paid position or part of an existing position.
Other resources should be available through the knowledge center, including links to pertinent Web sites, training or study materials, and a member center where free or paid members can check the status of messages sent and received, bulletins, and more. It is imperative that a knowledge center have its information updated as regularly as possible to keep content fresh, accurate, and of universal interest.
KNOWLEDGE CENTER AND WHITE PAPERS
Some entities that have white papers, especially publicly traded companies, will create a knowledge center as a platform to host, among other things, its white papers. For most, white papers are used to aid in the marketing process for a new product or service offered by a firm. Prospective clientele and proponents of the new product or service can be the captive audience of a knowledge center, so placing white papers in this type of Internet forum can have phenomenal results. Bringing white papers to the same place where discussions about the new product or service are facilitated and where potential customers can engage industry experts via chat rooms or bulletins is good business sense and an expert use of the Internet.
A knowledge center representing a business endeavor or any other entity should always exist as a repository for useful information that will help those with full mastery of the subject matter as well as novices. Using the knowledge center as a place to post and catch up on useful, current, industry information should always be the central goal; using the knowledge center to promote outside causes or as a means to network in a social manner should always be discouraged by the administrator. The offering of useful Internet links, articles, and tools for communication are the assets that any knowledge center will need as its fundamental foundation.
“Columbia Interactive E-resources: Knowledge Centers.” Available from: http://ci.columbia.edu/ci/eresources/knowledge.html.
“Writing a White Paper.” Available from: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/546/01/.