What is Knowledge?
You cannot lift a magazine, turn the page of a newspaper or scroll through the latest YouTube block busters without seeing the words Personal Knowledge Management or the acronym PKM. What is this thing? Can I touch it? Can I see it? I can certainly catch it in software. I can distort it, stretch it and tear it apart until it fits within my “System”, but what is this knowledge?
There are many definitions, quotes, etc. about Knowledge but I think that there is one quote that captures the essence and therefore a direction that we should take. So let us look at two quotes that I particularly like:
- “Knowledge is like a garden; if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” African Proverb
- “An investment on Knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
OK, so to get any worth from knowledge we need to cultivate it and invest in it, and by investing we will grow interest from the seeds that we sow.
So what does it mean to cultivate?
The dictionary definition for the word cultivate is simply to break up in preparation for sowing or planting
We take a chunk of knowledge, we break it up, to make it smaller in order for the seeds that we sow, such as an Idea, can grow into something that can be harvested. This idea tends to align with a book that I have read called Atomic Habits by James Clear, in it the author speaks about breaking this, like items of knowledge, into atomic sizes. Zettelkasten, originating from work by Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998), also takes the approach of breaking things down (I talk about this in my next blog) in order to be able to access them later on when we grow ideas, our seeds.
It is good to remember that Knowledge is something that has happened, it is history, it is the past caught by us and stored until the day we need it again. On the other hand, the idea that you have has yet to be grown, it is the present thinking in the future. The idea will grow from the cultivated soil of knowledge, and then, it too, will become the past and form the soil of knowledge.
Knowledge is obtained through many different ways:
- Reading articles, Ideas that other people have planted in their Knowledge Garden and grown into something nutritious.
- Reading books, collections of Knowledge
- Experience, every day we pick up little snippets of Knowledge that can be placed into our mulch of goodness
- Listen to the thoughts of others through PodCasts
- Pictures, whether this is a photograph, a painting, a sketch, doodle, it is something that provides us with a better understanding of what it represents. If you think about it, pictures were the first PKM that our ancestors drew on cave walls and provides us with knowledge today.
How we capture knowledge from these different forms of input must now form a dynamic workflow that we will start to build over the next few weeks and over the coming months.
Workflow to Knowledge
My world is focused around Apple Mac and iPad and therefore the workflow that we are about to build will be Apple focused. If you are from a Windows or Android background then do not dispare as I will also try to highlight alternative solutions that allow an open workflow based on Web solutions.
Next week we will define the foundation stones/pillars that will be supporting our Garden of Knowledge. We will also get to understand the Zettelkasten method for smart note taking.