«Hi, I’m a Knowledge Worker…» Revisited

A version of my column “Hi, I’m a Knowledge Worker…” appeared as the cover story of the February 2008 KMWorld under the title Knowledge Worker: Do You Relate?.  This piece discussed the struggle in understanding what knowledge workers actually do.  Understanding this is crucial, given that knowledge workers today comprise a plurality of the workforce in the U.S.

That generated a lot of interesting e-mail from readers but two in particular were worthy of note and I am including excerpts below.

Cindy Smith holds the title “knowledge engineer” at RSMI, a professional services firm.  She works in the IT customer support area and has held the same title at three different companies and two different technology solutions over the past 12 years.

“Since my business card title says Knowledge Engineer, I usually have to explain,” she wrote “There are a couple levels of depth I use.
- It’s kind of like tech writing.
- I manage and promote a knowledge base for a corporate help desk to verify that knowledge is being consistently added, found, used, and updated.”

She notes: “I’ve tried both with my parents and all they can get out of it is I do ‘something with computers.’”

Susan Sommer is director of corporate communications at Tatitlek, an Alaska Native Village Corporation.

She wrote: “Yes, I do think of myself as a knowledge worker, though I haven’t used that particular term to describe to others what I do.  Meeting other information professionals (also a term I hadn’t used until then) at an SLA meeting last year completely opened my eyes to the field as a legitimate discipline on its own, independent of job title or type of organization for which one works.  Since then I’ve been voraciously reading everything I can on KM, ECM, etc.”

“What I learned at SLA, in fact, raised my level of awareness about my profession to an entirely new plane.  Once I started thinking of myself as an information professional instead of ‘just’ a writer (creative and technical), webmaster, project manager, and editor – all titles I’ve held in recent years – I realized how much value I add to my company and how much further I could go beyond what I was already doing.  And when an opportunity came along for me to accept a position in another organization, I had the confidence to call myself an info pro and to ask for what I’m worth.”

As for me, I have to go do something with computers now.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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