Sunday, February 22, 2009

Personal Knowledge Management Plan

How are "Personal Knowledge Management" and "Personal Learning Environment" related?
A while ago I created a diagram representing what I consider to be my Personal Learning Environment (PLE). It essentially consisted of a visual representation (a map) of all the tools I use to keep track of information resources (notes, books, electronic resources, social networks, work documents, etc...) that are essential to my work/learning. The diagram also attempted to show how all these tools were connected and allowed the identification of some key inefficiencies related to the lack of synchronization and duplication of tools/methods at the office (fixed infrastructure) and at home (a more mobile set of tools). The initial impetus for creating this PLE map had been the frustration I was encountering with my mix of paper/electronic tools.
Initial Personal Knowledge Management Plan
Today I created a Personal Knowledge Management Plan. To make it relatively simple as a first attempt, I am limiting myself to short term needs and developing a plan for March 2009. I am also using the framework defined by Kirby Wright in his "Personal Knowledge Management Planning Guide." The guide offers two possible formats for a personal knowledge management plan, a graphical format and a table format. My initial attempt, below, is an adaptation of the graphical format. I must admit that I am having some difficulty differentiating the Learning Dimension and the Analytical Dimension of Kirby Wright's framework. Click on the image to view the details.

Ideally, I would review the plan on a monthly basis and adjust it as needed. I probably need to be more specific about the KM/learning goals embedded in this map but as a first monthly map, it will serve its purpose.
Getting back to the initial question of how the PKM plan and the PLE are related, the PKM plan answers a "what" question (what do I want to focus my learning on?) and the PLE is more focused on the "how", and "where" questions and on information/content management issues. I suspect my thinking about this will evolve over time. It doesn't feel very mature at this point. Let's call it emergent thinking.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Sometime in early February , two nuclear submarines collided in the Atlantic. It was a fender bender and nothing serious happened. In the same month, two satellites collided in space, at very high speeds, and the result was the complete loss of both satellites as well as lots of space debris.

We tend to think of space and the oceans as relatively empty and of collisions as unlikely. Well, no matter how unlikely things are, they can happen. Are these Black Swans?

See The Black Swan Theory (Wikipedia).

Disambiguation, polysemous and polysemantic

Big words....

I was involved in a little conversation about tagging and the challenges associated with disambiguation in folksonomies. For example, someone is using the tag "NPR" to refer to the National Public Radio and someone else is using the same tag to refer to a NASA Procedural Requirement. This example is just an acronym with multiple possible meanings. What about "open source." To an IT person, "open source" has to do the availability of software code, as opposed to proprietary software. To someone in the intelligence community, "open source" really means open source intelligence, intelligence that is publicly available in print or electronic form.

So, is it so bad that people from different background and different interests might end up using the same tags and mean totally different things? I'm going to take a slightly different perspective and suggest that the ambiguity and chaos of folksonomies is 1) an opportunity for making connections between things that would otherwise not be connected and 2) an opportunity to acknowledge that we don't all share the same frame of reference.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Autodidacts and Lifelong Learning

I've always been fascinated by autodidacts. I come from a family of autodidacts and I'm the odd one, the one who pursued the formal education. Nevertheless, I'd like to borrow from the autodidacts' attitude towards learning.

Autodidactic Press ... Your one-stop shop for lifelong learning.

I also love to come across course syllabi, especially if they have a good reading list. I don't necessarily read all the resources listed but it gives me an idea of what's out there.