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Turn your Google Services into a Powerful Personal Knowledge Management Toolkit

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This is a long pending post. Harold posted his PKM process quite a while ago. My process and rationale are almost similar.

At first I thought of writing about my PKM work flow with the example of the tool set I work with, but my PKM workflow has been developed over long period of time, using different types of applications and services, by trial and error, and I got habituated to some tools – they are not necessarily the best ones – but it’s just comfortable for me. So my whole toolkit is haphazard, not integrated.

Now with all the Google services – you can create your own PKM work flow. To date, the only tool missing in Google – a Social Bookmarking tool like! Everything else is available! Great thing about that is – you can work with a single dashboard and log-in!

But first check out the process used by Harold here. As he correctly mentioned – PKM is more about attitude than any given tools. Get that right first – according to your own method of PKM work-flow. Tool selection is easy.

1. To start with you need a Google / GMail account – these are not novelty any more; if you seriously don’t have one – drop a comment here – I will send you an invitation!

2. Get into Google Reader! Log in with your Google ID. Subscribe to RSS feeds of your favourite blogs and news sites! The best way to scan through lots of stuff in a short time-span is using Feed Readers such as Google Reader! [RSS feed explained in a great way - here].

Image representing Google Reader as depicted i...

Filtering signals from noise is the base philosophy of PKM. The next thing after scanning through lots of stuff from blogs /sites you are interested in, is to filter out what matters to you. You can either Star-mark or Share any post you like – for later reading.

I will recommend the Share function, as you will get a ‘Link Blog’ automatically. Although this post is about PKM tools, I believe being a node of a knowledge community too is a part of the PKM work flow.

You can also Tag those as your own classification format for easy searching later.

3. The next thing you need (and which Google crucially lacks) is a social bookmarking application. Nothing beats You have to get a separate account for that. Registration is easy and quick – and is a super intuitive application to use!


Here goes what you need to start the ball rolling -

Install the tools for saving bookmarks.

4. Online note taking – Google Notes not only allow you to arrange and organize and categorize your notes online – downloading the Google Notebook Firefox Extension gives you access to the mini Google Notebook feature, which allows you to:

  • Clip and collect information as you surf the web.
  • Stay in your browser window.
  • Organize your notes from the web page you’re on.

5. Start a Blog at To me a blog is the most effective filter of your PKM to separate signal from noise. Also when you write a blogpost, even while writing a link-post to point out a good resource or article of your interest – you can wrap that with your personal point of view and context. On top of that a blog is search-able and Blogger has always been the easiest-to-use blogging software around, but it just got way more powerful in the new version. Now you can make a completely unique template that has just the color scheme you want, without knowing any CSS, make a private blog and most importantly Label your posts, to group related ones together. Search-ability and tagging / categorization feature of blogs – will enhance your PKM a LOT – specially over a long period of time.

6. Organize your documents and photographs with Google Docs & Spreadsheet and Picasa. In Google Docs – you can upload all your word docs and spreadsheets and share them too! Also the search and tagging feature help your document management much easier (searching and browsing). This post is written with Google Docs. And ya – Autosave is a nice feature to have, specially when you are working with Windows OS.

Picasa is still much inferior to Flickr, but the cool Desktop and Web album integration feature of Picasa can help you to keep all your photos organized!

7. Now all your tools are in place. All you have to do next, is to turn your browser into a PKM dashboard! If you are using Firefox (or Opera) that’s easy! First – configure your browser to open all the Google Services you subscribed for PKM in different tabs – when you fire up your browser. For Firefox – Just goto Tools >> Options >> General >> Home Page – Location(s) and enter the addresses you want to go to separated by a pipe (|).
e.g. | |

Next – login to each service and use the ‘Remember Me’ feature for all sites – so that when you boot up all services are ready for you to use! For security – use the ‘Master Password’ feature of the browser (in Firefox : Tools >> Options >> Security)

Well that’s all for today. Next step – from PKM to becoming a node of the knowledge community. I am planning to write about that next (hopefully soon).

Also Read : Learning 2.0 and Learner 2.0

UPDATE: Harold pointed out another nice visual of PKM from Urs Frei.

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Written by anol

January 3rd, 2007 at 7:34 am

10 Responses to 'Turn your Google Services into a Powerful Personal Knowledge Management Toolkit'

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  1. Thanks for this post. I learned a few tricks. Here’s another visual of PKM from Urs Frei.

    Harold Jarche

    3 Jan 07 at 2:56 pm

  2. Thanks Harold – this one is cool!


    4 Jan 07 at 2:49 am

  3. Great work Anol – thanks for posting it.
    And one more thing to mention: I got to know your blog because Harold pointed to the visual on mine and my blog informed me
    a) by automatically adding a comment to the post
    b) by an email alert

    So we have connected from Switzerland to Singapore via Canada. Fascinating!

    Urs Frei

    4 Jan 07 at 6:09 am

  4. That’s truly fascinating!! :) And that’s going to be my next post on this context – PKM to being part of Knowledge Community. Where one can retain individuality within the realm of collective intelligence .


    4 Jan 07 at 11:15 am

  5. [...] verydxz wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptusing Google to manage all your stuff [...]

  6. I find this topic fascinating. I’m gathering a variety of articles on Knowledge Management and sharing them for free. May I share the list here?

    Steven Ross

    3 Nov 07 at 3:05 am

  7. Steven – I will be honored. Thanks. :)


    3 Nov 07 at 11:52 am

  8. [...] I blogged about Google Notes and Zotero before, and I liked both of them. But, if you really need a note taking tool which can pan across web-desktop- mobile; which comes with a very usable desktop (PC / Mac) version as well as web based version – you need Evernote. Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from anywhere. [...]

  9. [...] kind of resonates with my idea of blog as a dashboard, in the center of my personal knowledge management workflow. I no longer check Technorati ranking or page-rank, but comments still make me happy. To me a blog [...]

  10. [...] kind of resonates with my idea of blog as a dashboard, in the center of my personal knowledge management workflow. I no longer check Technorati ranking or page-rank, but comments still make me happy. To me a blog [...]

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