Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Personal knowledge management tools

In Amy Gahran's posts on "Knowledge management in human terms" and "How arranging ideas spawns new ideas," she does a really good job of boiling the KM issue down to a basic definition, which is often hard for those intimately involved in the field to do, and then adding her own thoughts generated from her work in the content field.

Gahran talks about knowledge management in terms of
"--recording your thoughts in useful, creative ways that yield even more interesting ideas, context, and insights
--organizing and storing your thoughts with tools that help you easily retrieve, juxtapose, compare, or combine specific ideas
--sharing your ideas and observations."

I think Gahran has hit on a trend--in my research for the Learning Circuits Try It column, I've been seeing many tools for what could be called personal knowledge management, i.e. tools that help a person organize and share his own knowledge more than an organization's. But I would expand the definition of "own knowledge" to mean not just the thoughts that a person generates on her own, but outside information that she chooses to be most relevant to herself personally.

In this age of information overload, selective filtering of information for personal or group relevance can be just as important as creating information. Here are some examples of what I mean. I've profiled these tools on the Try It page already. (Scroll down on the page to find the full reviews.)

--Cartagio. You can make Cartagio your standard Web browser and you’ll also get advanced features such as the ability to add comments, keywords, and passwords to your bookmarks; save text from Webpages, emails, and Word documents as snippets; organize resource files of images, documents, and PDFs; and more.

--The Google Alert Web tracker wasn't developed by the company but works with Google search to keep tabs on topics and keywords you select. You'll receive automatic, daily updates of the links it finds, making it not only a good research or learning tool, but also a way to keep up with what people are saying about you or your company. I use the tool to find out who's linking to my articles.

Here are some tools that I haven't tried out yet but that are in my folder for consideration. Some are free, some are not, and some have free demos. Some are just in testing, some are fully developed. Remember, I haven't tried these out yet so I can't vouch for their quality.

--Rocketinfo Desktop brings thousands of news Websites, corporate Websites, Weblogs, financial documents, and more to you with its news search engine that filters what you want to read by parameters you select. You can then annotate items to share with others. Here's a review by ClickZ.

--Frassle. This tool "helps you read and publish weblogs, track bookmarks, and find relevant content organized your way." It uses social networking to help organize content. This is a very preliminary version; the software is still in development (not even in beta).

--Hyperlinkomatic lets you "grab links, make notes, set multiple categories, search links, import links from Webpages, upload bookmarks, create bookmarks files, share links, publish links. It is, in short, a place to keep your links."

--Amplify was profiled on Robin Good's Weblog as a "personal knowledge management tool and an online information collecting community." You install a toolbar that helps you capture images, text, audio, video, and more from the Web.

--Seruku is another Robin Good resource. He writes that the application is "a toolbar-based application that helps you find and access ANY and ALL Webpages that have appeared in your browser." The difference between this and similar programs such as Furl (see below) is that this one is automatic--you don't have to decide to save the page.

--Net Snippets is "online information management made simple." The tool lets you drag and drop to capture content; everything from images to PDF files can be saved with source information, comments, keywords, and more. The company emphasizes that not just capturing the info but also sharing it with others can be achieved with just a single mouse click.

--Furl has been written up recently by Gahran in several postings (this one links to them all) and Jay Cross (here) on his Weblog. The tool lets you save Webpages to refer to later.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite personal knowledge management tool, either for creating knowledge or filtering it? Add a comment and let us all know.

1 comment:

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