[ Home | Online Community Toolkit |Online Community Resources ]
Full Circle Associates: http://www.fullcirc.com

Harvesting, Weaving and Creating Summaries

by Nancy White, last edited 3/2003

Online conferencing suffers from too much volume and what has been labeled the "tyranny of recency over relevancy." Even in threads highly focused and on topic, gems quickly get buried and action items forgotten. Important side topics either dominate, or die. This creates the need for systems to harvest information, gems, action items and decisions.

Who Does the Work

This "harvester" role often falls to the facilitator. In larger communities or diverse, multithreaded situations, this is rarely an achievable option and the work needs to be spread to more people.


Before you start to harvest, think about the following questions:

    • Who will use the summaries?
    • How will they use the summaries?
    • What is the desired action outcome from summaries?
    • Where will they reside? (cybrary, summary page, etc.)


If you've ever tried to summarize a hot and heavy thread after a week or a month, you know what a daunting challenge that can be. The longer you delay summarizing, the harder it can be. It is often good to keep up daily in heavy discussions. Keep notes in a separate word file, or use features such as the Caucus "notebook."


Based on your determined purpose, there are a number content approaches you might take including:

    • Summary of discussion
    • Action plan update
    • List of outstanding discussion or action items
    • Lists of insights, techniques or issues
    • Leading questions for next phase/discussion
    • Direct hot-links to key postings (index)

Some conferences have protocols for posters which aids in the creation of summaries and searching for content. Participants can be asked to annotate each of their postings with key words, or to provide a 'title' to their post. Then harvesters can more easily skim or search through material for relevant citations.


A visual summary using a template from the The Grove.

Another interesting example of visual summaries! http://www.rootlearning.com/features/ASTD2002.html

Tools Automated Solutions

There is an emerging class of text analysis tools that can search text blocks for words, strings of words and even concepts. If this is of interest, check out Denham Grey's fantastic resource lists noted below.

Resources and Readings





KM Map Tools

Denham Grey


List and urls of knowledge management mapping tools

Knowledge Tools

Denham Grey


Broader list of knowledge tools

contact us

Full Circle Associates
4616 25th Avenue NE PMB #126
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 517-4754

© 1999-2006 Full Circle Associates - content
© 1999-2006 WWCoCo New Media - design and graphics