PKM as pre-curation

The most important part of personal knowledge mastery (PKM), in my opinion, is the need for active sense-making. Merely seeking and sharing information does little other than create more noise online. Sense-making takes time, discipline, and effort.

One strength of PKM is the “manual” nature of sense-making activities. The act of writing a blog post, a tweet, or an annotation on a social bookmark all force you to think a bit more than clicking once and filing it to an automated system. Other sense-making routines, like my weekly review of Twitter favourites and creating Friday’s Finds, can encourage reflection and reinforce learning.

Sense-making, or placing information into context, is where the real personal value of PKM lies. The knowledge gained from PKM is an emergent property of all its activities. Merely tagging an article does not create knowledge. The process of seeking out information sources, making sense of them through some actions, and then sharing with others to confirm or accelerate our knowledge are interlinked activities from which  knowledge (often slowly) emerges.

Robin Good has a similar perspective on curation, as shown on this mindmap on curation for training & education.

Content curation is NOT the same as social sharing, reposting/retweeting, liking or favoring a specific content item.

Robin says that, “Curation is about making sense of a topic/issue/event /person/product etc. for a specific audience.”

The difference between PKM and Curation is that the former is personal, while the latter is for an intended audience. I practice PKM for myself and my blog’s primary audience is me. Sharing online  makes it social so that I can learn with and from others. Sense-making (as described by Ross Dawson)  is the most important aspect in both cases:

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)

The connection, in practice, between PKM and curation seems quite obvious to me. I can practice PKM and over time develop a wide variety of knowledge artifacts. For example, I have 2,182 blog posts and 2,858 social bookmarks. These have all been curated by me and for me. However, if I want to curate these artifacts for an intended audience, I can quickly search these artifacts and find suitable resources. I frequently do this for my clients, where I may compile a list of a few blog posts related to some aspect of our project.

I think that people who have a professional PKM framework have some of the skills and knowledge needed to be good curators. Their sense-making processes are already developed. I would consider PKM as a form of pre-curation.

6 Responses to “PKM as pre-curation”

  1. Kenneth

    Yes! Sense making! Too often my own sharing online is lacking the thoughtful process you Describe.

  2. Ninez Piezas-Jerbi

    Love this sense-making idea! In a way, it is something that we statisticians do too. When we get data, most of the time they don’t make any sense. But to find any sense to them, we also do the same thing – we get rid of the useless data, we make sure they’re from a reliable source, we “clean” the data up and make sure they are consistent and harmonized, then we aggregate them and find patterns and trends, then we finally can make conclusions from what the trends say. But most important though is how to make these concluding trends understandable to people. So we resort to data visualizations to highlight or make compelling a particular insight that the data illustrates.


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