The term personal knowledge management (PKM) isn’t about management in a business sense but rather how we can manage to make sense of information and experience in our electronic surround.
Personal – according to one’s abilities, interests & motivation (not directed by external forces).
Knowledge – connecting information to experience (know what, know who, know how).
Management – getting things done.
The critical part of PKM is in personalizing information and experience, or to use a business term, adding value. Ross Dawson shows five ways to add value to information (my examples/descriptions follow):
Filtering (separating signal from noise, based on some criteria)
Validation (ensuring that information is reliable, current or supported by research)
Synthesis (describing patterns, trends or flows in large amounts of information)
Presentation (making information understandable through visualization or logical presentation)
Customization (describing information in context)
Terms such as Filter or Sense don’t adequately describe the sense-making process in PKM. Looking at it from an outside perspective though, as Ross Dawson has done, gives another way to describe some of what is happening in our minds. We are adding value (and context) to information so that we can later retrieve it and perhaps use it. Whatever we make transparent is value-added information for others, especially if we do it consciously and well.
The image below shows an expanded description of sense-making in the context of PKM.
A basic tool I’ve described for PKM is social bookmarking to file information. It’s simple but doesn’t add a lot of value, just a few text comments. A tweet is also simple and cannot add much value with a 140 character limit. A blog post can be much more informative especially if one takes time to research, link and compose. A collaborative document that aggregates information and shows it from a different perspective could also be valuable. Developing a slide presentation with carefully selected graphics could be seen as higher value information. More difficult to produce and perhaps adding more value to basic information, could be a narration with the slideshow. I have noticed that the process of developing higher-value information helps to sharpen one’s own thinking.
Once again, I want to point out that people with better PKM skills, an ability to create higher value information, and a willingness to share it, will become more valued members (nodes) in their professional networks.