With the caveat that pen and paper is a technology that I *occasionally* use, but not enough to make it into this article, I present the tools and techniques I use to manage my personal knowledge environment.
In the image above is a visual representation of the technology I use to manage knowledge for myself. I do a fair bit of cobbling things together and managing a number of “nodes” in this stack – perhaps more than many of you would prefer to deal with – but this is what I do and how I do it.
The capture part of my KM (Knowledge Management) process is my note-taking environment. I have a few there, but I will admit to using one more than the others these days. I began as a heavy Evernote user – I have a TON of knowledge secreted away in my Evernote stacks and notebooks, but that was the problem. Getting that information out to make use of it required that I remembered it was there, which is not a great use of the human brain… My current go-to note-taking app is RoamResearch and it’s pricier than Evernote, but it surfaces information that might be older, but relevant to my current note, in an incredibly useful way. I use this tool for interstitial journaling as well as for collecting a ton of information from the information sources I read, listen to and otherwise consume. I include Obsidian in there because I use it for some note-taking tasks, though as I get more comfortable with Roam, that’s trailing off. The benefits of Roam and Obsidian to Evernote include the use of linked data techniques to surface information easily. If I create a note and add a link to another page for information about that note, the software adds backlinks for me that link from the page I just linked to back to the original note page.
This kind of connection – the ability to backlink from one page to another in order to see connections explicitly – is a huge benefit for me as I record notes and information from what I consume. The fact that both applications also produce graphs (webs) of knowledge in which you can navigate through your notes in a graphical and connected way is another huge benefit for these tools. Other tools, such as Notion, have the ability to use backlinks and linked data technologies to make your notes more discoverable, but even I have my limits as to how many apps I’m willing to be using at once.
The final element of my capturing process is the use of Instapaper (Pocket or any number of other read-it-later services would work here, too, likely, though Instapaper has some automatic connections that are useful for me). What happens is that I find sources to consume on the Internet – articles or blog posts or other pages that have info I want to review – and I’ll save them to Instapaper. When I get a few moments during my day, I can read through those sources, highlighting what I want to keep and ditching the rest (though of course, each highlight is linked back to the original source if I ever need to return to the source for context or confirmation of facts). This capturing of information is then Managed and assisted by the tools in the Manage branch of my KM verb tree up at the top of this post.
Because this is starting to get really long, and I’ve only covered one of the 5 KM verbs, I’m going to end up making this into a series. Stay tuned for the next installment where I’ll talk about how I Manage my knowledge environment!
Part 1 – Capture | Part 2 – Manage | Part 3 – Connect | Part 4 – Enhance | Part 5 – Find | Part 6 – Create