31 March 2023 | 11:40
Jiwat Ram

Googlization and PM knowledge

❝ Consistency is perhaps the only known path to serendipity ❞

The relentless generation, dissemination, and repurposing of information on an ongoing basis has made people dependent on technologies that can help them find the relevant information in the minimum amount of time possible. Therefore, the important role search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing play in retrieving and presenting the most relevant information (terms such as googling or googlization are often used to describe such activities) is undeniable.

The growing advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and its sub-fields of deep learning (DL) and natural language processing (NLP) are making it possible for search engines to produce the best results for the search query in a tick. Given the vast amount of available information, humans will never be able to find information as efficiently as a search and query bot does anyway.

As such, in hindsight, information retrieved through search and query bots (SnQ bots) can play a significant role in knowledge creation, repurposing, and management. The increased sophistication of generative AI-based applications (e.g., ChatGPT) is further contributing to the use of intelligent machines to provide the best information (within the limits of algorithm design and learning acquired by the machine through training), resulting in the availability of a lot of information. Therefore, it is safe to say that the level and amount of available information that we are coping with are simply unprecedented.

Unsurprisingly, a huge amount of knowledge on project management is available online too. A simple Google search for the term “project management” yielded over 3.5 billion results and over 130 million results in the Yahoo and Bing search engines.

It raises the question of whether it is possible to use the information resources (project- and non-project-based) made available by SnQ bots in any way possible, and if so, what could be some of the ways in which it can be done?

Some research has looked at these questions by exploring the role of search volume generated by SnQ bots (e.g., Google search volume) for user queries and its impacts on issues such as the prediction of COVID-19, return on stock, investor trading, obesity patterns, and so forth. It indicates that the information identified by SnQ bots is regarded as useful and worthy for understanding issues and building corresponding solutions. In hindsight, it also underlines the possibility of leveraging these vast resources of information in a coordinated manner for assorted purposes, including teaching and learning.

However, interestingly, not much has been done to understand the impacts of search yield for project management-focused search results. That is despite the fact that searching for a common term like ‘project management’ yields 3.5 billion records. It shows the breadth of knowledge available that could be tapped and tactically used for assorted purposes to grow the knowledge boundaries of professions. Not every link that is found by SnQ bots is relevant to the search, but surely one can still find useful information. So it makes one consider how this vast resource of information on project management can be used.

With that in mind, we have looked at some of the possible uses of search volume generated by SnQ bots as well as possible ways in which it can be done. Surely, examining potential uses and solutions is not easy, but at least this brief discussion will build initial thought, and that has been done below.

Possible uses of search volume generated by SnQ bots

  1. For research

Just like the prior studies, research can be carried out to investigate the relationship between search volume for different key terms (e.g., project management, project delivery, and project management certification) and the growth, expansion, or obsoletion of a project management niche (e.g., agile project management).

Such research will be very useful for trend analysis and making predictions for the future. It will then help project management bodies and other stakeholders plan their activities for the short, medium, and long term. There are other areas to explore as well. For example, which certification and accreditation (offered by a certain body) should be continued, and which should be discontinued, and what innovations are needed in knowledge management education, training, and certification? What kinds of innovations are needed for improving the effectiveness of project management knowledge or modernizing project management? How can project management programs offered in universities be made more effective in providing cutting-edge, relevant learning?

  1. For learning

Searching the internet is ‘digital breathing.’ In hindsight, it is something that we cannot afford or want to live without. Given the technological advancements in creating workaholic SnQ bots, we often take for granted the usefulness and worthiness of the information made available to us in a tick. Have we ever paused for a sec and thought, ‘Oh, how sweat! These unseen creatures are so kind in making our lives easy by enabling access to information that we didn’t even know it ever existed.

So, one potential use is to go beyond the use of search engines for information retrieval to make it a learning and exploration platform for assorted purposes, such as corporate trainings, school (all levels from primary to highest level possible) learners’ learning and exploration, and the advancement of knowledge sharing in a coordinated way.

One possibility could be the formation of volunteer “Fav-Share” (i.e., crowd-sharing based) groups. As we normally save or tag sites and good online resources as favorites in our fav folders, this simple tendency can be utilized for a much more useful and larger purpose. That is, people in these purposefully created groups can keep saving favorites on an ongoing basis, just like we all do, and after a while they can share their saved favorite sites with people within the group. It can be done for dedicated key words. So, a routine thing can become very useful for learning and exploration. It will help learners critically analyze their choices and discuss why they thought a piece of content (e.g., text, image) was useful.

And the advantages of this extremely simple thing are multitudes, such as (but not limited to):

1) These crowd-sharing types of groups are free and don’t require any additional resources or access than they are likely to have in their day-to-day lives,

2) People in these groups don’t do any extra work or make extra effort, as they will only tag a link when they come across a useful link,

3) Group members’ search activities will help SnQ bots learn and get better at generating search outputs. So, it will help create common good.

4) Anyone can form these types of groups at any level for private or official purposes as suits their learning and knowledge seeking purpose and needs without any limitations whatsoever, and above all,

5) Sharing is caring (or perhaps fav-sharing is digital-caring).

In this way, free information is transformed into free, useful information. One small addition of word, one giant purpose of netizen served, so to speak (Thanks to the words of Niel Armstrong).

  1. For case studies

Given the wide-ranging aspects (e.g., social, technological, environmental, and regulatory) involved in the search and retrieval of information using SnQ bots, they make a good platform for studying them as case studies. For instance, one can look at the case of search engine A vs. search engine B’s search output for different key words, and so on and so forth. So, the possibilities of creating case studies are enormous, given the volume and variety of content shared on these platforms.

 

Concluding remarks

Information is the most vital asset for progress. Transforming information availability into purposeful information availability is what we really need, given the deep oceans of available information resources. Obviously, it is a positive thing that requires consideration and finding ways and means to leverage it for assorted uses. Just like other disciplines, a significantly large pool of information is also available on project management. It deserves some attention.

As such, we have discussed a few possibilities of use and some possible ways in which information produced by SnQ bots can be used for more directed and dedicated purposes. Needless to say, the possibilities are endless. The ones discussed here are just the tip of the iceberg to stimulate some thoughts. This is analogous to standing on the beach and contemplating the vastness and depth of the ocean, as well as the unknowns associated with it. But hopefully the discussion presented in this article will help people consider developing some coordinated efforts to use this freely available and dynamically updated information in some way.

 

© 2023 Jiwat Ram, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Written by
Jiwat Ram

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments.

He has a growing portfolio of work on issues related to artificial intelligence, machine learning and large language models (LLMs). His work has been published in top scientific journals.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community. More recently, he has published a number of articles on some of the contemporary issues confronting project management and business management in various industry based outlets.

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