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The good, the bad and the annoying

Professionally, I'm pretty lucky. As editor of this magazine, I get to learn about some of the most intriguing and sophisticated software on the market. And, I talk daily with people who are a whole lot smarter than I. Being able to learn every day is a rare commodity, indeed.

Six years ago, when I started in this position, I knew I needed to learn a lot. Now, I realize how much more I need to learn. But I will take some credit for being more discriminating now than I was then. In 2000, I jumped at the chance for nearly every single phone briefing I was offered, and I sat through (and tried to learn from) some real brain stretchers. How about three hours on the minor release of enterprise resource planning software and its new business intelligence modules? Or 90 minutes of passionate discourse about new Java tools for developers? Coming up with questions that didn't reveal my complete ignorance on those topics was among the harder things I've had to do.

So, while I've become more selective in my briefings and learned more about technology, I've seen the technology itself become not just more elegant, but far more useful. And that brings us to the list of 100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management, the latest version of which will appear in our next issue, March 2006. I'm sure you've heard this before, but, in my mind, it bears repeating. The list is conceived as a way to identify some of the organizations leading the way in the knowledge economy. It's designed to encourage a broader discussion of KM. It is not an awards program. Criteria for inclusion differ, of course, as do the technologies recognized, but all companies share the following: Each has helped to create a market, redefine one or enhance one, and all of them demonstrate the capacity for agile innovation. Compilation of the list is a year-long, collaborative but informal process with vendors, analysts and colleagues.

I take responsibility for the final version. And here's where one of the worst parts of my job arises. Why? Because even though we've been doing this for six years, far too many people still don't get what we're trying to accomplish. Please indulge me here as I launch into my professional pet peeve: Independent public relations firms lack knowledge and understanding of what our list is really about. Far, far too many of them simply go to our Web site and notice on our editorial calendar that March is our annual 100 Companies That Matter issue. They then simply muster their call/e-mail lists (in early January, after our list has already been assembled) and implore me to include their client(s) and to immediately forward them information on how that will be accomplished. Some will even offer to set up a "phoner" (that's PR speak for a telephone briefing).

Our informal panel is now in the process of assessing how the 2007 list might look, and in about 12 months, we'll have it pretty well nailed down. So, to you PR people out there, read the magazine, examine our Web site and be respectful of other people's time.

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