Personal Knowledge Management

I’ve stumbled across several interesting articles on Personal Knowledge Management recently. The first is by Steve Barth entitled The Power of One and was published in Knowledge Management Magazine. Steve’s article discusses the importance of implementing knowledge management systems within an organization and includes information I’m sure will be of interest to all Surfulater users.

Personal knowledge management (PKM) involves a range of relatively simple and inexpensive techniques and tools that anyone can use to acquire, create and share knowledge, extend personal networks and collaborate with colleagues without having to rely on the technical or financial resources of the employer. Implemented from the bottom up by one knowledge worker at a time, these techniques can increase productivity and enthusiasm and help to build momentum that can overcome the technological and social barriers to top-down, enterprise-wide KM initiatives.


Information overload is a fact, not a theory, and there is evidence that most people lack the skills or tools to keep up in the Knowledge Age.

Steve talks about Personal intellectual capital and how employees can increase their value both within an organization and in a broader sense by using PKM techniques.

Getting a grip on the shifting mass of information is an important tactic, but using PKM techniques and tools, individuals can go farther, to enhance their abilities and career potential. Effectively managed personal knowledge assets become the currency of personal intellectual capital.

Surfulater is being used by a diverse group of people to collect and manage all sorts of information and of course build and retain knowledge. This article should be of interest to all Surfulater users, especially those using it within an organization.

Ontology is Overrated

Ontology is Overrated is a PodCast I recommend you listen to if you are interested in finding out more about organizing information. Clay Shirky gave this speech at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, held in San Diego, California, March 14-17, 2005. Clay talks about why conventional ways of organizing information via. categories and hierarchical trees is flawed and discusses alternatives, such as search. This is in line with my thoughts, some of which are here and comments from Surfulater users our Forums. Continue reading “Ontology is Overrated”

Knowledge Lost

Two articles caught my eye in last weeks Melbourne Age IT section. The first was about two Californian business men who are setting up cruise ships 5.3km of the coast of Los Angeles where they will employ 600 software developers per ship and have them working 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week. These foreign workers will be classed as seamen and be able to come ashore without requiring visa’s. The ships will cost $US10M a piece to fit out. At first I thought this had to be an April fools day joke, but apparently they are very serious about this. One has to wonder where we are heading with such goings on. I guess the ships aren’t heading anywhere and what about the workers?

The second article was about the large numbers of qualified IT staff that have been let go from Australian companies in the last 3 or so years in the name of downsizing. It seems that these companies are now realizing that they’ve lost a vast amount of knowledge from this process, knowledge that will be quite costly to recover, assuming of course that it can be. This also ties in with offshore development (and on cruise ships) and makes me wonder whether all of the valuable information that is built up off-shore can be transferred back to its owners, or do they write that off in exchange for the money they save using off-shore development.

As far as I’m concerned building and retaining knowledge and the intellectual property that flows from that is fundamental to the long term success of any business. It’s what gives us the edge.

Managing Knowledge Pt 1

I spend a reasonable amount of time reading about and looking at Knowledge Management (KM) style software. Lots of different types of programs can be used or abused into performing knowledge management tasks. These range from storing bits and pieces of information in Word Documents or text files (or PDF files!), to Outliners and Notepads with Trees to structure and categorize information, to ever more complex programs that morph trees and display them as graphs, or in other visually exciting and sometimes useful ways. For example programs like Grokster use circles within circles where you drill down deeper and deeper to see things of interest. (Surfulater customers who visit the forums will have seen threads about this there.) The higher end knowledge management tools tend to be quite complex and expensive beasts indeed. Continue reading “Managing Knowledge Pt 1”

Information Organisation

David Weinberger writes:

We’ve organized knowledge into trees, from Aristotle to Linnaeus to Dewey. You get a tree by doing the basic thing of lumping and splitting, and then splitting the lumps until you get to a lump that is too unitary or miscellaneous to bear any more splitting. But lumping and splitting has been constrained by physical limitations. For example:

1. A thing has to go in one pile or another. For Aristotle, this was expressed as the Law of Identity (A is A and A is not not-A), a pretty basic rule. Continue reading “Information Organisation”