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Personal Knowledge Management,
filtering and information overload

With more than 100 million distinct websites, one trillion unique URLs and an ever-increasing amount of e-mail, people are drowning in information.

However, the problem is not information overload but rather filter failure, according to Clay Shirky.

In traditional knowledge management the focus has been on quantity, not quality. Organizations have struggled to collect all the knowledge that their workers possess.

The goal was simply to collect all the individual knowledge in one big common knowledge base.

Very few companies had success with this strategy, but the ones that actually had success was facing a different problem: information overload .

Traditional KM collects everything from everybody

Collecting everything will lead to information overload and make it more difficult to search for and find what you need, and may actually decrease the overall value of the captured knowledge.

Collect everything, something or nothing ?

Filter information from the web, social media and work to avoid information overload So how do you avoid information overload if it's just filter failure ?

Let's start in the other end of Enterprise Knowledge Management - with Personal Knowledge Management (PKM).

Even with hot topics like the semantic web and artificial intelligence the best filtering device is still often you.

You probably consume a lot of information from various sources like the web, work and social media like blogs and Twitter.

Some websites will help you filter the information flow by aggragating information for you, and by connecting to selected individuals using Twitter they may also help filter information for you.

Please note the word consume here; reading selected blogs filtered by RSS feeds or following your favorite people on Twitter is not collecting information, but rather consuming information.

The main difference is that a month later when you need to check that link that Mrs. Brilliant shared on Twitter or that interesting blog article on Personal Knowledge Management that was in your RSS feed, you need to search for it again.

The most interesting and useful tidbits of information are hidden in the constant (and huge) flow of information.

This is why people have an increasing need for a personal knowledge management system

- to collect, organize and re-find the few nuggets of insight they find in their information stream.

However, it is important to note that most of the information that you collect is only interesting to you (even after you've filtered out 'the good parts').

Some of the information is probably relevant to your group or project, but not interesting to your department. And only a small part of the information you collect is interesting to everybody in your organization.
The information you personally collect is less useful to the group, even less interesting to your department, and least interesting to your organization

Avoiding information overload using filtering and PKM

So how do you avoid information overload with your corporate knowledge base ?

Each individual needs to learn to filter their personal information flow first (and collect the useful information bits and pieces).

Then they need to filter their collected information to avoid sharing useless information (to others).

Most information has an expiration date, and you may not add any value by sharing what you know (if nobody needs it).

If everybody share everything they know (without any filtering), you'll get information overload and you won't be able to find the valuable information in the "sea of information".

The beauty of focusing on the individual is that you'll get increased productivity and reduced information overload for people even if they don't share anything.
First filter your personal information, then filter it again before sharing it with others

By focusing on personal knowledge management and the individual you will probably get faster and better results than focusing on a huge enterprise knowledge management system. You may end up with a smaller, leaner corporate knowledge base - but maybe more people will find it useful if they're actually able to find something they need !

PpcSoft iKnow - a personal knowledge management tool

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is focused on personal productivity improvement for knowledge workers in their working environments. A core focus of PKM is 'personal inquiry', a quest to find, connect, learn, and explore.

PpcSoft iKnow is a tool specially designed for Personal Knowledge Management.

Our goal is for you to
- collect information from the internet, people, magazines, books etc and
- convert the information into knowledge by filtering and
- connecting the different pieces of information.

Collect - Convert - Connect - Create This will enable you to convert information to knowledge (for you), and also help you create new knowledge by connecting and understanding different pieces of information.

PpcSoft iKnow cannot create knowledge for you, but it can help you collect, connect, convert and create knowledge. Your personal notes will be knowledge for you, but may be considered information for others.

PpcSoft iKnow uses the most powerful filtering device available, You, by encouraging and slightly 'forcing' you to collect the useful parts of your information flow (instead of 'dumping everything you find')

"iKnow encourages you to take the time to transform the large amounts of information on a Web page or in a document, book, etc. into a useful scrap of knowledge in a note form, and then connect the notes as needed."
- TechRepublic Review

We believe knowledge is an individual product - it is a human understanding of information by learning and thinking. The learning is often through connections, dialogue and social interaction, but the thinking is personal (if not it easily becomes group thinking, and not your personal view).

Once you attain this knowledge, it can be expressed and shared in many ways, both through social media and through knowledge management systems.

Shared knowledge is not automatically common knowledge - people still need to find, read/learn and adopt the shared knowledge.

PpcSoft iKnow is designed to help you collect, connect, convert and create knowledge - personal knowledge - how you use it and share it is up to you !


My name is Atle Iversen, and I'm the founder of PpcSoft (read more).

Contact me at atle.iversen@ppcsoft.com

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