Yesterday, during my presentation on personal knowledge management to IBM BlueIQ I was asked about the role of blogging in my own sense-making processes. For almost seven years, my blog has been where I try to make sense of my observations. I’ve called it my home base. As I’ve said before, this blog is mostly for me. These are my half-baked thoughts which I make public in order to share and to learn. Many posts get built upon or edited several times and may become part of a longer article or white paper. Most of what is posted here is raw material. Much of the nuance or context is in the flow of the conversations here over the years. The process is often more important than the product.
In my Seek>Sense>Share model, seeking and annotating information is important but cannot stand on its own. As much as I may add feeds into my RSS reader, bookmark web pages or upload photos, these are nothing more than senseless digital constructs until I put them to use. Seeking information is an important foundation to PKM online but it’s of little use without action. The sense-making part of the process requires action and it takes practice to be good at it. How to make sense of one’s experiences is up to the individual. Sense-making is an activity, a regular practice. It can be as simple as creating a list (Filtering) or as complicated as a thesis (Customization). People with better sense-making skills are able to create higher value information and when this is shared, they contribute to their networks. This strikes me as the core of collaborative knowledge work.
I added a sense-making activity about a year ago when I realized I was losing track of what I was finding on Twitter. I could have saved interesting tweets to my social bookmarks but instead I decided to do a weekly review of what I had found. This requires little effort during the week, other than clicking the “favorite” star. At the end of the week, I re-read these tweets and their links and then decide which ones are still of interest. The activity of reading, writing and perhaps commenting helps to internalize some of the knowledge. The result is Friday’s Finds and a byproduct is that some other people find it interesting and useful as well.