staying afloat

How do we make sense in a world of fake news, social media, and fascist thinking, in what is often described as a post-truth society? We have to make sense collectively. No single person can do it alone. The objective of the personal knowledge mastery framework (PKM) is to help professionals become knowledge catalysts.

“A professional is anyone who does work that cannot be standardized easily and who continuously welcomes challenges at the cutting edge of his or her expertise.” —David Williamson Shaffer

PKM is staying afloat in a sea of information buoyed by knowledge networks and guided by communities of practice. In this emerging networked society we need to collectively buy time and make sure that everyone can swim.

Getting started takes a bit of effort but mostly some focus. Let’s say that you have three areas in which you would like to be better informed — regional politics, climate change, and artificial intelligence. The latter is of interest because you think your professional development may be affected by AI.

Look at your personal network of friends and trusted colleagues. You see that Pedro is involved with provincial politics and served in the government a while back but is no longer affiliated with a party. You trust his opinion. Ask Pedro for the sources that he uses to stay informed. He suggests a blog written by a retired journalist, an aggregator of political news that can filtered by region, and a weekly podcast that features local politicians and activists. This is a good start for you, and Pedro says he’s available for a chat over coffee anytime.

An ex-colleague of yours, Kristine, is a research scientist working for the Department of Environment & Climate Change. You ask her for recommendations on learning more about the local impacts of climate change. Kristine recommends a fellow scientist who is active on Twitter and is focused on publicly accessible science information. This person is connected to a large network of scientists. By following her, you start seeing many more sources of information and over time you start following some of these. You now have a wide and diverse source of knowledge about climate change.

Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence but when you dig into it you can’t see the difference between it and machine learning (ML). The boundaries appear be fuzzy and there’s lots of hype. You are most interested in how it will affect your work and career prospects. A classmate of yours now works for an ‘AI’ company so you ask Mary what AI is all about. Mary recommends a one-hour presentation on machine learning to get an overview, because she thinks that ML will have more impact on your field than AI in general. Mary also hosts a small group of people interested in AI. They have a private space on Slack where they share book reviews and talk about the field in general. Mary invites you to join.

By finding three trusted sources and with a bit of effort, you have started to create a knowledge network and have found at least one community of practice. Instead of haphazardly looking for information on Google — I would recommend StartPage or DuckDuckGo instead — you now have trusted human knowledge filters. In return for this knowledge you are starting to give back to these networks and communities, sharing what you learn. You are helping make your networks more resilient and able to make better decisions by getting more informed yourself.

So Pedro, Kristine, and Mary have become the core of your PKM.

To learn more and delve deeper into the discipline of personal knowledge mastery, consider the online PKM workshop.

“I first took a course offered by Harold a couple of years ago. Everything he talked about resonated greatly with me – on the future of work, social learning, technology and personal knowledge mastery. I sometimes can’t believe Harold puts so much of his work online for free. His blog is a source of constant inspiration as I develop my career in social learning and collaboration. I enthusiastically encourage anyone to take one of Harold’s PKM courses, buy his book, or book a workshop with him.” —James Tyer

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