My Personal Knowledge Management Practice

Each day I check my lists and RSS feed aggregator. On first Tuesdays, I colour code and alphabetise any content that I’ve previously rated above 2 on my value scale and I redact a peer reviewed journal thrice weekly.

That’s not me.

I think it’s the musician in me. I’m more rhythm than routine, and an eclectic, syncopated rhythm at that.

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The strongest part of my PKM practice is what I call shaping. There are two elements to this. The first is about shaping who I listen to.  On Twitter, I’m really particular about who I follow, as this shapes the content in my feed. If I follow good people, then the content is good. I take care that I’m not just following like-minds. It’s important to have both outliers and contrarians amongst those you listen to guard against the risk of vanilla. On LinkedIn I’m more promiscuous – I’ll connect with pretty much anyone who personalises their invitation to connect but, if you fill my feed with noise or Facebook content then I’ll mute you (a small, underused option on the top right dropdown on any post). If you contribute value in both Twitter and LinkedIn, then I may follow your blog as well. It’s a process not-so-much of seeking content, but of deflecting irrelevant content.

sculpture-2275202_1920 1000x200                                                                                                                                                                   The second part of shaping is about what I’m listening for. When my wife wanted to buy a jeep I started noticing jeeps, the different models, options etc. suddenly, I saw them everywhere. At the start of each year (but it’s also an ongoing process), I make a list of topics that I want to learn about – professional, industry, long-term career goals etc. I’ll review a few “L&D trends for 2017” type articles to make sure I’m cognisant of current hot topics in the profession. Just writing the list (and yes, it is written initially, in my ever present no-lines notebook) plants the seeds in my mind. As I skim through my feed my eyes catch the key words from my list and I’ll slow to explore. The list shapes the book titles that I notice and which ones I read. It shapes the twitter-chats that I occasionally participate in, the tweets and posts that I respond to and those that I make.

Both elements of shaping have open space. I don’t know who/what I don’t know, so I leave space (literally blank circles in the mind map of topics) for serendipitous content and people. I’ll also occasionally read promoted content (after all, it’s promoted via a complex stalking algorithm from who/what I already listen to) and just plain different content (beware the filter bubble, and read this fabulous post https://medium.com/@bjmay/how-26-tweets-broke-my-filter-bubble-88c1527517f3).

Dots and boxes

These shaping processes also then influence my curation. I use Diigo for bookmarking and love it. It’s a simple tool that allows me to store and tag webpages as well as images (handy when I’m reading a book, I just take a photo of a page with content I want to come back to and then upload and tag). I don’t always read everything that I’ve bookmarked. If the head of an L&D association says something is the best thing they’ve read in a month, that’s good enough for me. It comes back to who I listen to. My curation is more than bookmarking though. That’s like putting the dots onto a page for a game of boxes. It’s only in connecting the dots, and in seeing opportunities to make something bigger than individual connections that you start to win! Sometimes this happens as I prepare content to share in various communities/discussion groups that I participate in, sometimes it relates to particular work projects, sometimes it overlaps with personal interests (there’s another blog brewing on L&D lessons from circus skills), sometimes it’s through this blog, sometimes it’s just in conversations I have in real life!

I do share, although not often. I’m cautious of the like/share culture that creates noise without adding value, at the same time acknowledging that sometimes the filtering processes of the person sharing are what is adding value (follow good people).

In terms of rhythms, I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn daily, throughout my day as it relates to my work, and on my commute. I have a book going pretty much constantly and I create reflection blocks – as in I don’t allow myself to go to the next thing without having some sit and think time. This is an ongoing part of my working rhythm and my PKM practice. I find that if I don’t build this time into my schedule then my brain will protest at 2am!

This blog has come at the conclusion of Harold Jarche’s 60 day course on Personal Knowledge Management. This course was filled with content (and links to further content) and activities all within a strong framework (Seek, Sense, Share) for PKM. It provided a context to explore this topic in depth and I’d highly recommend it (register here http://jarche.com/registration/). Harold (and many of those he referenced in the course) has one of those orderly, organised PKM approaches which clearly works outstandingly for him. I learned a lot from his approach, and have plans to bring some more structure and routine into my PKM rhythms.

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