Why PKM?

Have you ever tried to find something you saw recently on the Net but don’t remember where you found it? On Twitter, I mark my favourites and review them every two weeks, with the best becoming Friday’s Finds. I think of it as a short-term memory helper.

twitter favesGo back in time and think about something you researched. Can you find it now? By creating a digital copy, you can retrieve it much more easily. I used the SPATIAL model in my Master’s thesis in 1998. I wrote about it on my blog in 2008 (and then our structures shape us) and was able to find a digital copy. The author even commented on my blog post. In 2012 I used the SPATIAL model to reinforce how important the initial design of an organization is, and gave examples of what happens when you pit a good performer against a bad system.  I was able to share it again, when, in-passing, I was asked if I knew anything about educational ergonomics. I was told that, “this model is ideal for our purposes and I am thrilled to learn of it.

Are you ever asked for help on a subject? A hot topic in our region is shale gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing. I knew nothing about it but decided to read what I could. Over the past year, I collected articles on the subject and saved them to Diigo, a social bookmarking service. I was recently asked by a friend if I knew of any resources on the subject. I only had to send him one link. I did this for myself, but was able to easily share with others.

Have you ever had to write a briefing note, white paper, or give a presentation to your colleagues? The posts on my blog are often the raw material for my professional writing. I now write blog posts as preparation for presentations. This helps me get my ideas together, in a more manageable format than a full-length paper. By making these public, I often find out about related resources, recommended by readers. I did this recently on the topic of institutional memory, with this series of blog posts that became a three-hour live presentation:

Lilia Efimova, the original inspiration for my PKM practices, has said that the main problem with personal knowledge management is that we need to take time now, in order to invest in the future. This is hard to see in advance. With a searchable knowledge base of thousands of blog posts and social bookmarks, all curated by me, I can see the value of PKM every day. It’s much more difficult when you start with a blank slate. That’s why a regular, disciplined process is the best way to start. As Jane Hart shows, if you take 10 minutes a day to learn something new, that’s about 50 hours after one year.

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