7.1 Introduction

7.1 Introduction

          Being a member of today’s knowledge driven society we spend most of our working lives in information saturated environment. We have seen that in the last few years, due to the advancements of information and communication technologies, both printed and online publications, including Scholarly journals and Non-scholarly publications, have increased significantly. We have also observed that a large number of contents are published by the commercial enterprises and by individuals who just publish their opinions as if they were factually based. This proliferation of information has introduced many problems, for both individuals and organizations, like information management, authenticity; evaluation of published contents.  Orrin Klapp argues that information overload relates not just to the growing volume of information with which we must all deal, but also to the degradation of that information because of redundancy and noise. Hence, working with vast amount of information and growing number of IT tools is an ongoing challenge.

           Retrieval of irrelevant information is another problem commonly encountered by information users. In fact, we live in a society where we are continually bombarded by media. Everyone must deal with a great deal of irrelevant information in order to retrieve the few bits of information that are of value to them. The availability of ICT, computer networks and the Internet has generated an increase in the amount of information produced, as well as new ways of storing & retrieving the information. Much information is redundant and must be discarded or ignored for that reason. Managing useful information and extracting meaningful information from abundance of resources is becoming increasingly difficult for all of us. This has raised the need of “personal information management”.

           The concept of “personal information management” was first used in the 1980s (Lansdale, 1988) keeping in view the potential of the personal computer which was greatly enhancing the human ability to process and manage information. Today, personal information management is meant to support activities such as acquisition, organization, maintenance and retrieval of information captured, used and applied by both individuals’ and organization to make decision making process more effective and efficient (Teevan, Jones & Bederson, 2006). This requires a continual reassessment of decision making process along with associated embedded routines to ensure that the organizational processes are aligned with the changing environment. Because, in today’s competitive world, the primary focus is much on “doing right things” than on “doing things right” (Druker, 1994).

          For achieving this objective, conventional information management is not adequate. Conventional information management is directly related to ‘freezing’ the meaning of available information. Whereas, for achieving the competitive advantages, there is a strong need to ‘unfreeze’ the embedded meanings of the information which make the decision making process more efficient and effective. 

This process of unfreezing the embedded meaning of the available information advocates for “knowledge management”; particularly when come to individual level, it raises the need of personal knowledge management.  A large number of tools has recently emerged supporting personal knowledge management e.g. (Sauermann & Schwarz, 2004; Caldwell & Linden, 2004; Quan, Huynh & Karger, 2003; Cheyer, Park & Giuli, 2006; Linden, 2005). Through effective and friendly user interface, these tools integrate different kinds of data, information, applications and workflows for helping users to organize, create and exploit new knowledge. Users’ knowledge is thus crystallized in the user workspace and reused at their will. In today’s technology driven environment knowledge workers typically use a variety of such tools when working on their assignments as these tools help them effective personal knowledge management.

           Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is relatively a new term which is being integrated into the growing vocabulary of knowledge management. However, it is emerging a new field of study which deals with the evolving set of understandings, skills and abilities of individuals that allows them to survive and prosper in complex and changing organizational and social environments. In broader context, PKM is an offshoot of knowledge management and is a multidisciplinary concept emerged from disciplines like   personal information management, cognitive psychology, philosophy, management science, education, communications, etc.  It is a disciplined, comprehensive approach through which knowledge workers gather, make explicit, categorize and share what is most important to their jobs and professional development.

          Although, some researchers have argued that the distinction between Knowledge Management (KM) and Information Management (IM) is far from being well-articulated, but in previous chapters we have also learnt that managing and enabling knowledge is a key to success in our economy and society (Wenger,  McDermott & Snyder, 2002); so in this chapter, we will discuss various aspects of personal knowledge management which are very essential for an effective knowledge management in organizations.


In the 1986 publication Overload and Boredom : Essays on the Quality of Life in the Information Society,