PKM – my best tool

Technology is the application of organized and scientific knowledge to solve practical problems.

I dug up this quote from my personal knowledge management (PKM) system, or outboard brain, or whatever you want to call it. The quote is from Harold Stolovitch, and it’s stored on this blog from a post I made over three years ago. My PKM system is a technology in this sense.

I know people who get hundreds of e-mail each day. I don’t. I also meet people who work in companies and have to make decisions or set direction but who do not have time to read. I can understand how time constraints force you to reduce “discretionary” activities such as reading, but how are you able to learn if you don’t take the time to read, listen, reflect and then make your own understanding explicit for others to understand?

One PKM process, of using web tools to sort [triage] , categorize, make explicit, and retrieve, is shown in this graphic:


Some of my practical problems, when I started this blog were:

  • I needed a way to connect with others in my field in an inexpensive way (blog)
  • I wanted to mine some of the knowledge out there (feed reader)
  • After a while, I wanted to share what I was finding, or have it available when I was in a discussion (social bookmarks)

What I found out later was that I was creating a resource that I could use whenever I had some related work to do. My blog is the first place I search when I have an article or report to write. The process of writing, reflecting, discussing & annotating has given me a digital library brimming with my own sticky notes that I can easily find.

If you’re looking for a resolution for 2008, I would recommend the adoption and use of some kind of Web PKM system if you don’t have one yet. Here’s a reason why, from Ryan Lanham:

Leading, or leadership, is the process of using our own learning to enable the learning of others.

12 Responses to “PKM – my best tool”

  1. Ryan Lanham

    Thank you for the link, but thank you more for the excellent blog. I was quite surprised to see my own name (though I do Google it…) I found your blog through a link from Stephen’s web which I love…as one of my very favorites. Great stuff both of you.

    Honored to be noticed.


    Ryan Lanham

  2. Gilbert

    “Technology is the application of organized and scientific knowledge to solve practical problems”.

    The Stolovitch definition of technology is very poor. If it was entirely wrong should we really still classify this as knowledge?

    We need to add words to the english language to better qualify knowledge.

  3. Mary

    I am curious, how would you differentiate this system from a PLE (personal learning environment), or would you say they are fairly synonymous?

  4. Harold

    My understanding of PLE’s is that they are usually connected in some way to formal education and the idea of learning portfolios. PKM, for me, is a tool for professional and personal development. They’re definitely related, as KM is to education, but I think that they are similar processes for different purposes. I haven’t thoroughly investigated PLE’s, so I may be completely wrong on this 😉

  5. Suvendu

    Hi Harold

    Have you found this tool? This is what I have been searching for long time…

    if you are interested we can discuss more…



  6. Suvendu

    Do you think a single tool would be a better option than a multiple disconnected tools to consistently follow this process without loosing vital knowledge?

  7. Harold

    The challenge with a single tool is that it cannot meet most people’s needs without becoming overly feature-laden. By assembling small pieces loosely joined, based on open standards, everyone can have something that works for their particular circumstances.

    There are some tools that integrate these pieces, but most are proprietary and have user fees. My current system is free. If an organisation wanted to make a suite of tools available, then a multi-purpose single tool may be more appropriate, but I would not jump to that conclusion without some analysis.


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