Thursday, April 04, 2024

2024 Explorations - Q1 Review

I started my 2024 Explorations in January. It was meant as a combination of two main objectives:

1) a learning framework or learning agenda, not so much to ensure that I would engage in continuous learning but more to ensure that my continuous learning was adequately focused on some key themes of interest;

2) using technology, and more specifically
 TiddlyMap, as a personal knowledge management tool that would allow me to experiment with (a form of) knowledge graph.

We've reached the end of the first quarter of 2024 and so far so good. I just completed a quarterly review of progress and generated a few insights.

  • Is TiddlyMap allowing me to really learn about knowledge graphs? Yes, but as expected, it has its limitations. I will eventually crash the tool. I don't think it is meant as a graph database but it works well as an exploratory tool. Ultimately I need to move my data to a real knowledge graph tool like Neo4J. That should be a goal for the second quarterly. I started learning more about Neo4J, including learning the basics of Cypher.

  • Is my learning framework working? The main themes and topics have proven very useful as guardrails and as an organization schema both for my thinking and for capturing notes. There are some issues with the taxonomy. Some topics are overlapping and I keep wanting to create more tags. So far, I have limited the number of additional tags and I have only made minor adjustments to the topic tags. Proliferation of tags would lead to inconsistencies. Until the tagging is automated, the number of tags is limited by my capacity to remember them all.

    The maps are telling me something pretty clear. I have focused perhaps 80% of my efforts on the AI and Knowledge Graph topics. The maps related to those topics are very large, which has enabled me to test filters. Like a search returning too many results, a map showing too many relationships is unreadable. For other topics, I have collected and curated resources, but I have not spent time connecting the dots. As a result, the maps are less interesting (so far).

  • Is the basic ontology working? Yes, but the value of TiddlyMap's automated functionalities has made it much more powerful to create maps based on what TiddlyMap does with relationships based on tags and links associated with Tiddlers than to manually create a specific set of relationships based on my simple ontology. I have learned most by manipulating the filters to understand how relationships are displayed. Interpreting the resulting maps for potential insights is the next stage I want to dive into. Since I am the one creating all the links and the tags, the maps are not telling me anything I didn't already notice, but they are representing the connections visually and often reminding me of connections I made weeks ago that I don't hold in immediate memory.  I posted one of the maps in the Insight Maps section

The biggest ha-ha moment was related to tagging. I was using the tagging functionality to tag too many different types of things and failing to use a major functionality of the tool. I realized after a while that I should be using the fields to document the properties of a node. For example, "author" is a field rather than a tag. This allows me to have a consistent set of node properties and to rely on tags only for topics and some of the metadata used for navigation purposes. This also really helped make the maps more meaningful.

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