Knowledge Management: A Fool’s Errand?

CJ Eller – @cjeller on – had a take on Personal Knowledge Management that resonated with me, in his articleGarbage Heap:

I’ve bounced off of personal knowledge management tools like crazy. Wikis? Digital gardens? Zettelkasten systems? Nothing sticks.

I’m a nerd, and I love the idea of capturing all the things I read, the information I learn, and being able to harvest it later for some great good.

I have tried all the software tools. Some stick more than others. Some of the time I end up knowing I have information, but not knowing which software silo I stuck it in. Am I getting value from these attempts at capturing everything I know? Probably not, at least most of the time.

To illustrate the point of being driven crazy by ‘knowledge’, Eller quotes a short story Funes, His Memory by Jorge Luis Borges:

Without the ability to generalize and abstract away his memories, Funes is left with a garbage heap that keeps piling up. “Funes, His Memory” is a story not of a gifted individual but a cursed one, trapped in an endless web of memories with no way out. A nightmare.

Is there a point to capturing every piece of information that passes us by? Probably not, but there is something enticing about the idea of being able to somehow extract ‘knowledge and wisdom’ from disparate sources of ‘information’.

I think that CJ has it right; it’s a fool’s errand.

✴️ Also on

Andrew Canion @canion