Personal Information Management for Sense-making

George Siemens calls it information management (what I describe as PKM).

I specifically use the term information instead of knowledge. Our encounter with information is one of sensemaking and wayfinding. We encounter a continual flow of information – most of it will never become “knowledge”.

From my perspective, the knowledge aspect of PKM is an emergent property of the activities conducted, many of which are merely information management. A more appropriate term would be Personal Information Management for Sense-making (PIMS?), but PKM is the term I’m sticking with for now. For sure, merely tagging an article does not create knowledge. The process of seeking out information sources, making sense of them through some actions and then sharing with others to confirm or accelerate our knowledge are those activities from which we can build our knowledge. Managing and sharing information, especially through conversations, are fundamental processes for sense-making, as we get inundated with increasing amounts of information.

George describes some key activities and decision points (especially in Selection & Use) in the figure below. These five actions pretty much mirror my own PKM processes.

George says that, “Too many aspects of my sensemaking system are manual”, but I think this is a strength of PKM and other sense-making practices. By keeping them as manual activities we are forced to do something. For me, the act of writing a blog post or a tweet or an annotation on a social bookmark all force me to think a bit more than clicking once and filing or having it served up to from an automated system. The weekly routine of reviewing my Twitter favourites and creating Friday’s Finds is another manual routine that I find helps to reinforce my learning and (hopefully) add to my knowledge.

Like George, I’m sure we can get better systems to help us, but for now I find the manual nature of my sense-making is an essential part of it. But then, I’m probably not as busy as George ;)

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