Defining personal KM

by Lilia Efimova on 6 September 2004

Jeremy Aarons:

I haven’t posted anything really provocative for a while (if at all), so here goes:

My suspicion is that there is something seriously wrong with the recent fad of interest in Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). At the least it is of minimal importance to KM as I understand it, because it is of little use for supporting the majority of knowledge workers.

Specific arguments:

  • “discussions of PKM emphasise the importance of technologies such as email, weblogs and wikis” and “these technologies are really just a form of information managament, not knowledge management”
  • “claiming that PKM is the best way to improve knowledge worker productivity […] is quite wrong”
  • “it seems these technologies would be of little use to the majority of knowledge workers”

Provocative enough to get me writing :)

For me PKM is not about technologies, but about awareness and practices (same as KM :). With all my interest in weblogs I don’t consider them as THE solution for improving knowledge worker productivity. In my PhD research I study weblogs because they provide a context where personal knowledge management practices become more visible and easier to study.

To make life a bit easier I posted my personal KM Q&A (originally written as a contribution to PKM article in KM Magazine). It’s still work in progress, but it says something about my ideas…

One of the things there is my definition of PKM:

For me PKM is a mix of activities contributing to personal effectiveness in a knowledge-intensive environment. It’s not only about creating, sharing, acquiring and applying knowledge, but about supportive activities as well. Effective knowledge development is enabled by trust and shared understanding between people involved. For an individual this means a need to establish and maintain personal network, to keep track of contacts and conversations, and to make choices which communities to join. However, developing knowledge also requires filtering vast amounts of information, making sense of it, connecting different bits and pieces to come up with new ideas. In this process physical and digital artefacts play an important role, so knowledge workers are faced with a need for personal information management to organise their paper and digital archives, e-mails or bookmark collections.

I’ll try to return to it and reformulate things properly, but so far I’d like to ask Jeremy what are the alternatives for improving knowledge worker productivity if PKM is not the best way to do it :)

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/09/06.html#a1332; comments are here.

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