PKM: aggregate, filter, connect

Knowledge Squared equals Power Squared, says Craig Thomler:

However the knowledge hoarding model begins to fail when it becomes cheap and easy to share and when the knowledge required to complete a task exceeds an individual’s capability to learn in the time available.

This has been reflected in a longitudinal study of knowledge workers that Robert Kelley of Carnegie-Mellon University conducted over more than twenty years. He asked professionals “What percentage of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?”

In 1986 the answer was typically about 75%. By 1997 workers estimated that they had only about 15% to 20% of the knowledge needed in their own mind. Kelley estimated that by 2006 the answer was only 8% to 10%.

Given that professionals now need to draw 90% or more of the knowledge they need to do their jobs from others, in my view ‘Knowledge equals Power’ is no longer true.

I believe it is now more accurate to state Knowledge Shared equals Power Squared.

I see the basis for sharing knowledge in the connected workplace is personal knowledge management or what I’ve called our part of the social learning contract. You need to have something to share in the first place and that happens when you make your work transparent. This means showing your sources (aggregation) and then what you find important (filtering) and sharing that with others (connecting).

In my case I use Google Reader as a feed aggregator, with shared items public. I also share articles with my Internet Time Alliance colleagues using Posterous. I filter more with this blog by writing about and commenting on much of what I have read and learned. I also filter information with Twitter and my weekly Friday’s Finds. I connect through this blog and the comments left by others, by leaving comments, via Twitter and in the increasing number of web conferences and discussions becoming available. Essential in all of this are the tracks I’ve left for others and for myself to retrieve as necessary, as I do during my frequent searches of this blog, Twitter favourites and my social bookmarks.

None of this is new, but I think that the three-step process of Aggregate/Filter/Connect is much simpler than my previous model of four internal actions and three external ones.


A simpler model, inspired by Ross Dawson’s post on enhanced serendipity, may be easier to communicate (and remember).

You cannot control serendipity. However you can certainly enhance it, act to increase the likelihood of happy and unexpected discoveries and connections. That’s what many of us do day by day, contributing to others like us by sharing what we find interesting.

I’ve found that this diagram works better in explaining my PKM process and how it relates to other people, all engaged in similar, but not identical, sense-making endeavours [Updated here: PKM in 2010].


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