Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Capturing Tribal Knowledge

Someone at work today mentioned the problem of capturing “Tribal Knowledge” in an electronic format and making it easily accessible to new or remote employees.

When some new engineer joins Yahoo!, how are they supposed to know that they should build a website using Apache and PHP on FreeBSD? How do they know to use Nagios and not Big Brother for monitoring? MySQL and not Postgres? (Not that there is anything wrong with Postgres, but our Network Operations Center folks have familiarity with MySQL, so sticking to similar technology makes their lives easier which means you gets paged less frequently.)

We’ve got all of this information in our heads or maybe even in an email archive, but we need to distill it out and come up with a website that can capture it so other folks don’t waste time and energy research options that aren’t a good fit for our environment.

What’s the right software for this job? Some sort of Wiki system? A message boards package? Blogging software? Maybe just a bunch of .txt and .html documents checked into some well-known place in CVS?