Building a personal knowledge management system

For the longest time, I’ve known myself to be curious and always search for answers. So, deciding to be an independent researcher was a natural extension of what I had been doing all my life.

And while a layperson might think of our modern times as the age of information, I think of it more like an age of curated information. We curate almost everything we search for unless you visit a library or access a networked portal of library associations for information.

But isn’t that good? It is. However, from a research point of view, the best information as per a Google search may not be the “best” for your purpose. Understand that Google ranks information for you based on algorithms, which relies on the years of user behaviour that the search engine has access to. Add to that all the SEO gimmicks that companies apply to ensure that their articles rank higher when searching for information.

Could that mean Google’s algorithms prioritise quantitative over qualitative data? I’m not sure because the company claims to prioritise qualitative data to give its users (which is 90% of the whole wide world!) the information it needs. Given the petabytes of data it has to deal with, I think it’s impossible to assess the quality of everything that’s been put out. So, quality is subjective here.

I’m getting at this — you can’t rely on Google’s algorithm to give you the exact information you need. And the algorithm changes every month, which is why I think it’s essential to build your repository of data that can be accessed when you need the information.

I’m not asking you to build your search engine, but consider using note-taking software like Evernote, Notion, OneNote, Google Keep, or even Apple Note for personal information management. The idea is to use them to clip information from the internet, take notes, input your thoughts for context, tag and categorise them for your future self to find it.

Think of this as building a personal knowledge management system governed and managed by your priorities, not Google or any other search engine. The idea is not to visit your favourite search engine for information but access your repository for information that you can rely on and trust, instead of trusting something that an algorithm chooses for you. However, there’s nothing wrong with that fundamentally.

If you think that’s excessive, you might be right. But let me ask you — what’s prompts you to bookmark a website or a juicy piece of information that you come across? Is it going anywhere? Can you not find it later? It’s the internet, after all.

If the answer makes you stop, you know what I’m talking about. As a researcher, having access to the correct information is critical to my contributions when I need it. And I’m pretty sure you might benefit from a similar system if you value knowledge and the reassurance of going back to the information when you want to.

%d bloggers like this: