Digital knowledge comes at us in all forms and it can be a challenge to manage. This note describes how I manage information in my Personal Knowledge Management system.

My system works when...

  • I am easily able to find something I’ve saved
  • I am confident nothing important is missing

Knowledge and Records

It has taken many iterations of many systems to realise there is a difference between knowledge and records.

Created by meCreated by others
Date is unimportantPoint in time, usually dated
Connected to other knowledgeEach record is complete unto itself
Difficult to organise in a hierarchyEasy to organise in a hierarchy
Examples of records include:
  • Letters
  • Certificates
  • Receipts
  • Tax records
  • Operating Manuals
  • Results

Knowledge is pretty much everything else in my system. And because knowledge and records are so different, I need complimentary tools.

Storing Records

Records are stored in Zotero, within a folder structure (“Collections”) that follow my Johnny.Decimal index. More on that below.

The screenshot above shows some of the categories within Zotero. There are gaps because not every index item has documents associated with it. A Zotero collection is only created when needed.

Benefits of Zotero for storing records:

  • Metadata can be added. I typically set a Date and a tag such as Receipt.
  • Documents can exist in multiple collections. In the back-end of the system documents are stored independently from their mapping to a collection. This is quite different from a filesystem directory structure where documents exist in only one location.
  • Zotoro runs as a WebDAV server on my Synology DiskStation DS920+ so I can access it from multiple computers in the house.