Why the Government of Canada needs PKM

David Eaves writes in Why the Government of Canada needs Bloggers:

One theme that came up was that public servants feel they are suffering from information overload. There is simply so much going on around them and it is impossible to keep up with it all. This is especially true of those in the senior ranks.

I saw this when I was working on the Advanced Leadership Program with the Canada School of Public Service last year. I can’t discuss any specifics of what I observed but there is no doubt that senior public servants are inundated with information and that their time is not their own, with many days filled with meetings and other time-consuming activities.

However, blogging is not enough because managing information overload is more a question of attitude than skills. We need to understand that we’ve been in a state of information overload since the 15th Century when there were more books than one person could read in a lifetime (watch Clay Shirky’s interview on FastForward). Blogs, or their equivalent, are only one part of the knowledge management equation.

I think that public servants really need PKM (personal knowledge management). PKM is a way to help make sense of the information flows that face us and I’ve written about PKM many times. It is basically a process of:

  1. Sorting & Filtering (e.g. Feed Readers & following on Twitter )
  2. Annotating and Filing (e.g. social bookmarks)
  3. Tentative Sense-making (e.g. Blog posts & Twitter Posts)
  4. Engagement and conversations in these venues and others

The bottom line of web-based PKM is to develop a process of sense-making. It’s much like the discipline of maintaining a professional journal, attending lectures or reading good books and does not negate any of these activities.

So I would say that public servants, especially in senior positions, need more than blogs and that they need their own, individual PKM process, incorporating various web social media tools. If the Indonesian Minister of Defence has been able to maintain a blog for the past fours years, our public servants can do that and maybe a bit more, n’est-ce pas?

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