Link Love: What the Heck is PKM?

Link Love

Maybe you all are more “in the loop” than I am, but this week was the first time I had seen the acronym “PKM”. If you, like me, have never heard this term before it stands for “Personal Knowledge Management”. I saw it in reference to a new app called Obsidian (link below in Other Interesting Things). Maybe I’ve hit the “hey kids, get off my lawn!” phase of life but when I saw the description of the app and PKM all I could think is “we call that a notebook.”

(the above paragraph is brought to you by an excessive use of quote marks)

While I appreciate that my brain is a messy place and writing things down either on paper or digitally helps to keep me from forgetting something, I don’t know that I need yet another app that attempts to solve the problem that pen and paper has been solving for centuries. Sure, paper can be lost or damaged but digital solutions can be neglected by the creators or abandoned entirely until the software is no longer compatible or formatted in such a way that the information is accessible any longer. We all have experiences with trying various app solutions and a trail of data that we can’t access any longer. On the other hand, I may not finish a notebook or remember specifically where I wrote something down but all the notebooks I’ve used for the last decade are piled in my attic should I ever want to relive, find or reference something I wrote, drew or pasted into the books.

What is your opinion on digital vs analog PKM?

Finally, we spent a good deal of time playing “what does PKM stand for?” and here were some of the better ones:

  • People Know Me
  • Pen Knowledge Matters
  • Pen Kit Mafia
  • Pretend Karen Melted
  • Please Keep Messaging
  • Paper Knows More




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

(From Random Facts About The World That Might Change Your Perspective On Certain Things)

Other Interesting Things:

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13 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Always love these posts and apparently companies cannot stop themselves when it comes to creating software to improve organization. after years of working in Healthcare software I used many different systems and your single point is the reason I abandoned them all… Over time they all either get abandoned by their creators, become obsolete or become unusable due to technology changes. I finally got sick of it (plus I retired) and now write everything I need to remember or want to survive me… Years after I’m gone my children won’t be trying to open my pc or iPhone… They will open a notebook, tho.

  2. Vis a Vis, digital vs analog… I use my Mac/ipad/iphone everyday and it – they – are great for repositories for photos etc, but I journal in analog… ink, journals and, most recently, restored vintage typewriters. Paper. Has been here since the Egyptians… and it will be here when the Martians land, and find our planet over run with dead machines and our population strangled by cords.

  3. Haha I agree! I don’t want an app! I like a notebook I can format the way I like, no more stuff and no less stuff than I want.

  4. I prefer analog over digital. I tend to remember it better if I write out.
    I think at times we are digitally satured too much.

  5. I have thought a lot about how people use Obsidian and similar tools and am working on a long blog post about it. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts:

    They are trying to solve problems that could also be solved by indexing an analog notebook.
    These are not new tools; in academia I was using similar tools and methods (even when analog!) years ago.
    Like most organizational systems, I think for most people these are probably procrastination techniques.
    Thoughts on Zettlekasten specifically:

  6. I love pens and paper more than the average person, but I do love Obsidian, too. True, some of the things people use it for could be achieved with a notebook—or series of notebooks—and many Zettelkasten usages would best be done with index cards. But for big projects there are benefits to digital.

  7. Different tools are fit for different purpose. As my circumstances and needs have changed, I’ve changed tools as well. For my work, I started off with a fairly simple linear notebook to record meetings. This expanded to bullet journaling for everything as I learned about that system, which evolved into looser commonplace booking as I evolved my bullet journal.

    With a new role and a shift to work-from-home, I had much less need of the commonplace book… I simply didn’t travel away from my computer. I switched to a planner for daily life reference and a linear book for meeting notes. Then, because my work involves learning, research, and integrating that together, I started using Evernote. When I found that restrictive, I picked up Obsidian, which I am quite happy with.

    Current toolset: Hobonichi, Musubi, Obsidian. One carries time related information, one carries short-term information, and one carries long-term, structured reference data. Any one of these tools could do all three of these tasks, and there are a lot of people who put in that effort. That doesn’t mean they are the best tool for the task though.

    As for obsidian itself, I chose that because the file format is plain text, which means it has the least chance of becoming obsolete or unsupported. Plain text files have been in heavy use since the 70s.

  8. Guess I’ve hit the –get off my lawn, kids– age too because my first thought after following your link was — oh for pete’s sake. Use a notebook. Think of all the lovely pencils and pens you will meet.

  9. Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, is an abbreviation not an acronym. Why do people constantly make this blatant mistake??

      1. Don’t feel bad, it’s neither a traditional acronym nor an abbreviation. It’s an initialism, a word so uncommon my phone dictionary doesn’t contain it.

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