E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Personal Knowledge Management by Harold Jarche (BlueIQ Ambassadors)

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & Surroundings in the Spring If you have been following this blog for a little while now, you would know how Personal Knowledge Management, a.k.a. PKM, or Personal Knowledge Sharing (PKS), whichever term you would prefer to make use of, has always been one of my favourite topics to talk about and share some further insights over here and elsewhere. It’s been all along one of those areas that has always caught my attention since way back when I was first involved with KM in the late 90s. It’s one of those fascinating fields that has permeated successfully throughout time from traditional KM and into the world of Social Networking reaching a new level of awareness that surely makes it all worth while diving into, if you haven’t done so just yet. More than anything else, because, if anything, that interest will keep raising as time goes by! And here is why …

Managing knowledge is quite a daunting task; in fact, most people claim (I am one of them, too!) that it is almost impossible to manage it successfully. How can you manage what you yourself don’t know really that well after all? How can you manage what you are just not even aware you are knowledgeable about till you are confronted with it? How can you manage what you know till you eventually have a need for it to resurface again? Quite an interesting set of questions, don’t you think? So where does Personal Knowledge Management fit in then?

Well, indeed, it’s impossible to manage knowledge, even your own knowledge. However, knowledge workers can have a good chance to self manage some of that knowledge so that they can re-find and reuse it effectively and efficiently at a later time. There are a whole bunch of processes and traditional technologies that have been helping people try to figure out how they can have their own PKM strategy. And, lately, over the last few years, with the emergence of social software tools, that job of managing one’s own knowledge seems to have become much easier. Although perhaps still with plenty of room for improvement.

Either way, under that premise, and if you are interested in finding out plenty more how things like social bookmarking, Twitter, wikis, (social) tagging and even your blog! could help you get off to a great start with building your own PKM strategy, I bet you are going to enjoy the remaining of this blog entry… hehe

Earlier on today, I had the great pleasure, privilege and honour to invite my good friend and (P)KM extraordinaire, Harold Jarche, to spend a few minutes with one of the communities I co-lead inside IBM: BlueIQ Ambassadors (A bunch of enthusiastic and rather passionate folks around social networking, whose main mission is to help facilitate the adoption of social software within IBM … Yes, my daily job, too!). I eventually asked Harold whether he would be willing to talk and share some further insights around the topic of Personal Knowledge Management. One of the various passions that he has been talking about for quite some time now.

Of course, I was really excited when he agreed to participate in such virtual event, since I knew he was going to provide some really good conversations on the topic of PKM that would get lots of interesting and relevant dialogue on this subject. The expectations were rather high, but then again, if you already know Harold, he was up to the task and big time, exceeding all of them and delivering plenty more!! (With lots of attendees clapping virtually at the end of the session!). Absolutely wonderful!

And the great thing about this all is that in agreement with Harold we eventually managed to record both the audio and video of the virtual webcast and I am now more than happy to drop by over here and share with you folks a bunch of interesting and relevant links to that virtual event that I’m sure would make you think around PKM for a long while.

As a starting point, you could have a look into the essential, must-read article he put together on this subject under the title “A Personal Learning Journey“; from there onwards you could browse through his delicious PKM tags to then stop by this Slideshare presentation from where he grabbed a good number of slides for today’s event.

Once you have gone through that additional reading, it will get even more interesting, because you could actually check out the following couple of links, very much related to today’s event:

That’s right! Above, you would be able to find a link to the presentation that Harold used in PDF format and the second link is a streaming link that when clicking on it it will start playing the video recording of the session which will include the audio as well, so you will be hearing Harold, and a bunch of us!, commenting on PKM and what all the fuss is about 😉

Of course, there are lots and lots of things that I could comment on with regards to the wonderful session that Harold did with us today, but I’m not going to do that right now. I would rather prefer you go and watch through it (Lasts for about 56 minutes, so get yourself comfortable first!) and then at a later time I will be putting together another blog post where I will share my two cents on what I learned from the event as well as I’ll put together some further insights on whether I share his PKM vision … or not.

For now, just to let you know that we have got much in common with both of our notions around PKM, to the point where his mantra Seek > Sense < Share is pretty much along the same lines of what I have been using myself for a long while now. But better get busy and start playing the recording itself to find out plenty more!

From here, just a very very special Thanks!! to Harold for being with us today and for doing a superb job in meeting up all of our expectations around the subject of Personal Knowledge Management and for sharing his insights, in-depth knowledge and expertise on that subject matter with us all! Wonderful stuff! Thanks ever so much, Harold!

What a blast!


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  1. Luis, have been following Harold’s work for some years now since you linked me to him.
    One of the key challenges I see is the conflict of knowledge as an artifact (as recorded in SN and other repository tools ie explicit) and “knowledge in use” – that required (in demand) for us to apply it NOW. Over the years we have improved our ability to search/find information (remember IBM’s STAIRS in the 70s – oh sorry that was before you were born ) but we need to improve our ability to apply the information/knowledge to the current situation at hand.
    We need to differentiate between convergent thinking (know-how /compliance /competency/ ordered/ process knowledge)and divergent thinking (know-why /patterns/ complex). Dave Snowden and the Cynefin model gives some leads in that direction.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Great post Luis!
    KM is also one of my favourite topics, and that’s why I like so much your blog!
    Thank you very much for all the material you are sharing in this post, it’ll be a pleasure read them.

  3. Hi Luiz,

    I’m a skeptic on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). I first heard about it from Ron Young (our names seem similar but we are not the same person. Ron Young is from UK, I’m from Singapore).

    Here is the thing about PKM that make me skeptical: blogs, wikis, and other social computing (web 2.0) tools are the tools to organise information rather than knowledge. And to turn information to knowledge, you need to talk to people so that you can validate the information that you have as knowledge. For example: I can blog about ‘the world is flat’ and I believe it is true until I converse with other people and find out that ‘the world is round’.

    What do you think?

    Roan Yong
    (twitter: @roanyong)

    1. I think a key element of PKM is social.

      The blog posts etc themselves aren’t necessarily knowledge, organised. But, like Jon says, authorship does imply some kind of information processing.

      Probably more importantly, the artefacts of PKM are both boundary object and cognitive tool. We can have richer, less-prone-to-cognitive-and-social-bias conversations when we bring our exobrains and mind-maps into play. The power of chaining and chunking extensible PKM fragments in asynchronous, multi-participant conversations is something qualitatively different from the conversation of the watercooler, for example.

  4. blogs, wikis, and other social computing (web 2.0) tools are the tools to organise information rather than knowledge. And to turn information to knowledge, you need to talk to people so that you can validate the information that you have as knowledge. For example: I can blog about ‘the world is flat’ and I believe it is true until I converse with other people and find out that ‘the world is round’.
    What do you think?

    I think that during both 1) the process of reading and watching and listening to information that one organises (either right away or during the composition of some content that will be published or shred somehow), and 2) the process of talking to others to validate, extend, revise, put-to-use the information one has at hand (and available through other means) .. during both of those ‘processes’ a human being is thinking, synthesizing, evaluating, etc.

    I think that knowledge is born and/or developed during each process.

    1. Hi,

      Thank you @Jon Husband, @Harold, @Simon. This conversation becomes lively because of your participation.

      If I read your (@jon, @harold, @simon) argument correctly. You are basically saying that PKM is social, and thus interacting with others is part of PKM. Wikis, blogs, and other web 2.0 tools are useful because they facilitate the social learning from a person’s point of view.

      But that is my point. If PKM = social learning from a person’s view (it’s personal), then PKM = personal information organiser. For example: let’s say I received 100 comments that ‘the world is round’. I can still believe ‘the world is flat’. Since the learning is asynchronous then it’s difficult to conduct dialogue. It’s hard to explore deep underlying assumptions when you can’t engage that person on emotional level.

      I’m not saying making knowledge personal is impossible. It can be done through reflecting what has happened and re-interpreting what we have learned in our context / situation.

      What I disagree with is managing personal knowledge. I think we can’t consciously ‘manage’ personal knowledge, because we based our decision (this is where we recall our personal knowledge), based on pattern recognition and emotional tagging. This implies what is vivid and recent will pop-up in our head more frequently than other personal knowledge. How can we then ‘manage’ personal knowledge? putting our personal knowledge in blogs / wikis does not help because we (often) don’t consult what we have written when we make decision on the fly.

      1. @Roan – possibly.

        I’m not sure I’d take such a reductionist approach to the term’s elements ie ‘personal’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘management’, though. There’s definitely a ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ thing going on here 🙂

        A concrete example of the kind of process I’m talking about might help?

        I’m giving a talk on ‘Co-creation and Technical Communications’ to the Technical Communication UK conference in September. The main thing I’m going to say is exactly what you’re saying when you talk about ’emotional tagging’. I think creating vehicles for ‘knowledge transfer’ is less effective than creating ‘engines for cognition’. (Bluntly, eLearning and manuals suck because they attempt to chew our food for us.)

        So, I use Amplify to clip and write a short post on an interesting article about ‘Embodied Cognition’ and share it on Twitter.


        I have conversations about the piece with people and the post gets ReTweeted a number of times (more than my usual Tweets). Interestingly (and, to a degree, gratifyingly) the ReTweets mostly come from Cognitive Psychologists. Immediately, I have (a) patterns and (b) emotional tagging. (Not that I notice, of course. The metadata that comes with conversation amd social media comes pretty much effortlessly.)

        I’ll do this for every element of my talk. When it comes to the time to answer questions and, later on, apply this knowledge to work on clients’ projects, I’ll make decisions on what I say – and advise customers to do – based on this compressed knowledge (to mangle Weick’s ‘Intuition is compressed expertise’.)

        I can’t ‘control’ my Personal Knowledge. But I can ‘manage’ it in such a way as to maximise the opportunities for dialogue, schema-building and emotion.

  5. Hello all!

    I’m Kate (@kcbower), a grad student at Northwestern studying KM and change management. My final project (“Capstone”) is focused on PKM and the concept of self-management, or behavioral self-regulation.

    Roan, I’m also interested in the question of whether or not we can consciously manage our own knowledge. Definitions I’ve explored seem to suggest that PKM relies on the conscious effort, but I have yet to see the notion incorporated fully into any model.

    I speculate, however, that it’s an important component. I’m newer to this than most of you, but I would think that consciously making the effort to code and store our individual knowledge could support our recollections when making a decision – like a trigger, particularly for those that learn visually. I think it’s also a useful practice for those that aren’t quick decision makers, and do need time to reflect and dig back into/refresh what they know before making a call.

    What do you think?

    Also, if you would like to support my research – going on now – I’m surveying KM practitioners and researchers to learn more about their PKM practices and ability to self-regulate. Info: http://tinyurl.com/27l2sr3 Survey: http://tinyurl.com/29scuzn

  6. Management is a loaded word but PKM was the term I started using several years ago (from Lilia Efimova) and I’ve stuck with it. Dave Pollard used the term Personal Productivity Improvement for while. Luis calls it PK Sharing and that’s a good term, but PKM is still prevalent in the field and is a common search term. I’ll continue to use PKM, knowing the limitations and connotations of the term, until a better term enters into common use.

    Perhaps I am an anomaly, but I frequently (daily) refer to my blog posts, bookmarks and other knowledge artifacts. I pull these out, as needed, in conversations with colleagues and clients and even here while responding to this blog post. Each time I pull out an artifact, that action reinforces my knowledge related to it. That’s why I write my “Friday’s Finds” blog post summaries of Tweets; to reinforce my learning for the week.

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