Updated: 6/28/2005; 9:44:40 PM.


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  Wednesday, February 23, 2005

  Information overload: questions

After first steps in our research on information overload things get a bit more clear for me: it seems that it's not about information overload, but our practices of dealing with information. Questions I find particularly interesting:

  • How do you manage multitasking? Strategies, tips and tricks to handle multiple processes...
  • How do you manage working with multiple sources needed for a task? Especially when there are a lot of them and they are in different formats (emails, files, paper documents, IM talks, coffee-table discussions).
  • How do you manage awareness? How do you monitor multiple sources of information that could be useful in the future? (I use weblogs :)

Would be nice to find time to describe my own practices regarding those :)

Funny enough, those questions correspond with process, artefact and awareness categories from my thinking on PKM purposes and practices.

  BlogTalks 2.0

Good news - BlogTalk 2.0 papers are available as a book at Amazon.de or at Libri. Links to online versions of papers are here (if you are one of the authors make sure you add yours).

This post also appears on channels BlogTalk and weblog research

More on: blog research BlogTalk 

  PKM: purposes and practices

Following yesterday's post Piers started knowledgenetworker wiki page to think about PKM handbook:

The idea behind the knowledgenetworker handbook is to try to define the routines and practices that help people successfully 'manage' both their knowledge and their network, and which work best.

It gets into the hart of my current PhD struggle. After countless drawings and discussions it's probably a good time to blog it. It's not going to be easy, since thinking is not ready to be turned into a coherent text yet, but hopefully making an effort will help moving forward.

The core of my PhD struggle is thinking about conceptual language to talk about PKM. So far I talk about goals, practices, activities, methods, tools, artefacts, awareness... Those are things mixed in PKM model (in both versions) and I need to tear them apart, to come up with good names for conceptual categories and to get a bit more clear about their relations in order to have a conceptual frame to put in examples and instances that come from my research.

I'll start from separating purpose and practice:

  • Purpose: What and why?
  • Practice: How?
    • methods 
    • tools
    • artefacts
    • process
    • awareness (to be fair I'm not sure where it belongs, but it's important, so it's here :)

Purpose is about what and why - e.g. capturing ideas, so they do not fly away and are available later. Practice is about how - e.g. writing ideas down as weblog posts or creating concept maps.

Practice needs further elaboration - I have some categories in mind, but they do not fit together well.

I'm thinking of methods and tools (methods more about strategy and tools are needed to execute it). For example, for documenting ideas a strategy would be to catch bits of ideas separately and to establish their relations to each other. This could be done by many tools, e.g. by writing in a weblog and linking posts with categories or links, by creating a concept map, by writing ideas on pieces of paper and then sorting them in groups... Tools that we have at our disposal and are capable of using influence our choices of strategies, but strategies invoke search for better tools...

Process is about steps - what to do when (e.g. get an idea, tink of blogging it, find time to blog, start writing, think of relations, find other relevant posts and add links, finish, click submit button).

Artefacts are "things" used or produces in a process: weblog posts, concept maps, paper cards with ideas...

Awareness is a strange thing... I can't define it properly, don't know where it belongs, but know that it belongs to the picture.

There are a few issues around purposes and practices: 

  • PKM purposes are often implicit, so choices of corresponding practices (=implicit and may be not optimal)
  • Practices are often invisible (=not accounted for)
  • Practices are interrelated: we use similar strategies or same tools for different purposes, we multitask on processes and have to fit them into definite time and artefacts could play different roles (e.g. as input, output or tool) (=all these things collide in time and space, leading to interruptions, dublication, conflicts and other non-productive things).

Coming back to the PKM handbook: I don't think we can talk about "good practices" without understanding purposes. Not only from the scientific interest, but simply because choices of how? depend on what? and why?. And, since, practices are interrelated, choice of how? in a specific case depends on all other cases of what?, why? and how? currently active in the picture.

And, to connect it to my PhD: I try to come up with model describing PKM purposes. Since often purposes are implicit, I look at practices and explore motivations behind them (intentional purposes) and effects (implicit or not anticipated purposes).

At the moment I try to put all these things together, but still searching for good conceptual language to talk about it... Please, let me know if you have any associations or answers (and especially if I reinvent an exiting theory :)

And - there are many people who contributed and still do to my thinking on this issue, but special thanks goes to Aldo de Moor for inspiration over good food after discussing papers in the Zoo :)

See also: PKM purposes and practices in knowledgenetworker wiki

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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