The discipline in personal knowledge management

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.How does discipline affect personal knowledge management?  I came across this interesting question recently through a student in Northwestern's MS-LOC program.  The specific question was

How does behavioral self-regulation fit into the concepts of personal knowledge management?  [And do you have any research on this topic?]

I don't have the low-down on the academic research, but the question itself makes a lot of sense to me.  While people talk a lot about tools and techniques under the guise of PKM, there is a whole realm of behaviors and practices that go along with these things.  I think this is why I make such a strong connection to Getting Things Done and related ideas: while it has a framework for organizing "things," the primary focus is on action.  And in my mind, action is multiples bigger in importance to the specific tools I end up using in support of that action.  After all, I don't get payed to have Inbox Zero.

Checking on the specific term, behavioral self-regulation seems to be close to what I assumed from the context.  It's about how the individual takes control of their own destiny.  A paper related to athletes tasks about the concept in terms of self-monitoring against goals and targets with the idea of modifying and changing behavior based on that monitoring input.  It applies in just about any human endeavor.

Reflecting on this, one thing that may be missing in the personal knowledge management discussion is the thought of the reasoning behind PKM.  What is the goal (or goals) that PKM supports for the individual?  How do they evaluate their "mastery" of PKM against those goals?  As I said, interesting question.

So, where and how do discipline and "behavioral self-regulation" fit into personal knowledge management?

[Photo: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it." by wildphotons]

4 Comment(s)

Mark Gould Author Profile Page said:

That is an interesting question Jack. I think I have two answers, depending on how hypocritical I feel.

For myself, it is enough use PKM as a set of techniques to capture, organise and share things that interest me or at least excite my curiosity. The low cost of using tools like Delicious, Posterous or longer blogs (especially coupled with integration into Twitter and so on) means that I don't really feel that I need to justify them as working practices. (Just as I would find it odd to explain a discipline of keeping a commonplace book or simple note-taking.)

However, when I speak to my colleagues about PKM as a new activity, I do start with encouraging them to identify a focus -- a reason to use these tools. This is simply because for many of these people, it is a real change to adopt such a disciplined approach to this aspect of their work (at least since they graduated).

Since starting to talk about PKM in this way, I have tried to adopt a more focused approach myself. However, I think it might have imposed an additional time cost on me. I am still pondering this.

A. Celie said:

Interesting discussion. Why not split the practise of gathering information using PKM tools with a clear goal in mind and gathering and capturing information without a clear goal. This would mean that you use a generic toolset and capture information that excites you or where you see some potential value for the future. Later on the captured information can be organized and enriched with a clear goal in mind. This also gives the user the opportunity to use information for several goals.

A. Celie

Good point, Celie. I think of the "without a goal" stuff to be the serendipitous conversations and things that come across my desk / phone / ears / dreams. This stuff may become more structured, but for now, I want to catch it and maybe use it later.

Kate said:

Hello, Jack!

I came back to this post after sorting through emails to find the conversation thread I'd launched with Stan Garfield. I won't supply you with an answer yet - for I do have a hypothesis - but I did want to let you know that I'll be sending you a link to an assessment in about a week or so. While the restraints of Capstone have limited the extent of my research (at least for now) - I'm hopeful that the results will produce some further food for thought. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out!

Hope you're well!


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