Why not build a system that collects only verified information that is important, interesting and inspiring to us, that stimulates our creativity and enables us to come up with new ideas? Yes, it is possible – Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome: Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)!
Imagine yourself at a meeting and during the conversation you learn something interesting about a topic you’re interested in. You pull out your phone, take a note. The note goes into your Knowledge Management System. You already have another note related to this topic there, so you link the two notes to each other. When you look back into your system some time later, you may then find that you unexpectedly managed to “connect the dots” – that the information from a note taken at a meeting was the missing piece that enabled you to skilfully combine facts, draw conclusions, and come up with a super idea. This is how Personal Knowledge Management works.
Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) – what is that?
Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is a term used to describe a variety of processes used to:
- collecting and recording information,
- managing it: classifying, storing, searching,
- using it in practice: both individually and when sharing it with others
We can think of the PKM system as our second brain – a creation that not only stores information we’ve read, heard, or seen somewhere, but also helps us find connections between those individual pieces of information.
In simple terms, we can say that PKM is a set of tools for better, more enjoyable and more effective learning. It helps to remember information (…or at least: not to forget it), to systematise it, to go back to notes taken in the past. It summarises and synthesises our knowledge, so it helps us think more clearly, generate insights, and come up with new ideas.
This is not a new idea – PKM systems have been known for a long time. They used to take the form of, e.g.:
- So-called commonplace books – notebooks with miscellaneous notes,
- Drawer systems with index cards – Zettelkasten
- Applications to store notes, such as, e.g. Evernote.
- Personal wiki,
Or more advanced systems using software such as Obsidian or Roam Research, enabling not only the categorisation and tagging of notes, but also their two-way linking and graphical visualisation of connections.
There are no better or worse PKM systems – the key term here is “personal”, which emphasises that these are systems designed individually by specific tailored to that person’s needs.
How is PKM different from a notebook?
PKM is something more than just a tool for storing notes – it is not only about gathering information, but also about turning it into knowledge, i.e.: analysing it and making sense of it for later use in practice.
DIKW Pyramid | Source: https://blog.stratasan.com/data-driven-decisions-dikw-pyramid
Why is turning information into knowledge so essential? This is because we receive so much information every day – so much that we are often unable to “consume” it: to stop, think about it, evaluate its reliability and value. Through phenomena such as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) we may be facing a phenomenon known as information overload, i.e. a situation when due to an overload of information we have difficulty in making a decision or extracting the sense of a given issue. We receive individual pieces of information, but we don’t have the time or tools to link them just in time.
As Rob Lambert puts is:
Learning doesn’t happen by gathering resources together – it happens by discovering new ideas, blending knowledge together, implementing these new ideas (where possible) and observing and moving forward with what you have learned.
And that’s exactly what PKM systems can help with: getting excited about exploring the world, discovering curiosities and coming up with ideas that will make our daily and professional lives easier.
How does Personal Knowledge Management work?
PKM is a set of diverse, interconnected tools to organise your current and future knowledge, tools that:
- collect information from the communication channels you select,
- assist in storing, categorising, and filtering the information collected,
- enable and provide quick access to collected information,
- help to organise and combine information, draw conclusions, come up with new ideas and – consequently – transform the collected information into tangible, useful knowledge.