Building your own knowledge base

How many times have you been in a position and said to yourself, “where did I see that article?” Given the great expanse of the Internet more than once I’d wager. Of course that’s only the online world, what about all those books and magazines (you do remember paper right?) you have piled up? How about the all the interesting sites and sounds you’ve come across when you’re out and about?

We’re exposed to thousands of data points everyday and the question becomes how to take that information again when we need it. To do that you need a personal knowledge base.

I’m not talking about just a collection of information, nearly everyone has the ability to do that. With the advent of the modern browser we can bookmark articles, save emails forever (or just about), review articles from hundred of websites if we choose. With the phone you have you can take snapshots of anything you wish, short videos, record your voice and even send a text message or make of phone call.

Then you have all the social media you’re reading and creating.

So you have all that information but that’s not a knowledge base.

A knowledge base is that collection of data overlaid with your own comments, observations and what you learned from the experience. When you read a book or an article you take something away from it – make a note of it. You took a snapshot of your kids playing in the snow, you’ll get the time, date, and place recorded automatically if you took it with a smartphone but not the why – add it to your notes.

Of course the other part of the challenge is finding a way to make it all available to you when you what it – no matter where you are. A place that you can continue to add items as well as pull from that stock of knowledge.

For me that tool is Evernote. Every device I own and use as it loaded on it. It’s become an integral part of what I do and who I am. It’s not just receipes and receipt photos – it’s also where I’ve stored photos of my kids, articles I wanted to read and any observations I had about them. I keep meeting minutes, newsletters, even voice mails – it’s a treasure trove of data.

As I’ve used Evernote I’ve come to learn more about how these pieces of data are connected – I even connect them using note links so I can move easily between them. I tag things, use keywords in titles and date code them (date codes is an upcoming post) all so I can find things easier and draw conclusions from that information.

I’ll be coming back to this topic often but my question for now is, do you have a personal knowledge base?

Also, be sure to check out the Wikipedia article bout Personal Knowledge Management.