The PKM value-add

Cristina Milos recently tweeted that; “Curating is different from aggregating information. That is why I am not a fan of Paperli or Scoopit.” The curation craze has been assisted by an increasing number of web platforms that enable easy sharing (with emphasis on the word easy). But what value do they really provide, aside from another platform to sell user data or advertising?

During my online conversation (recording on YouTube) with Jane Hart yesterday, we discussed personal knowledge management (PKM) and one very important aspect, in my opinion, is the need for active sense-making. Merely seeking and sharing information does little more than create more noise online. The sense-making part takes effort. It’s why so few people keep at blogging for years, because it takes work.

But sense-making, or placing information into context, is where the real personal value of PKM lies. The knowledge gained from PKM is an emergent property of all its activities. 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 interlinked activities from which  knowledge (often slowly) emerges.

One strength of PKM is the “manual” nature of sense-making activities. The act of writing a blog post, a tweet, or an annotation on a social bookmark all force you to think a bit more than clicking once and filing it to an automated system. Other sense-making routines, like a weekly review of Twitter favourites and creating Friday’s Finds, encourages reflection and reinforces learning. Automating sense-making is antithetical to the rationale behind PKM.

  • Personal – according to one’s abilities, interests & motivation (not directed by external forces).
  • Knowledge – connecting information to experience (know what, know who, know how).
  • Management – getting things done.

It’s not PKM if there is no value created, and I’m not sure if it’s curation either.


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