A culinary metaphor

A meze is a meal made of 6 or more small dishes common around Eastern Mediterranean sea. People pick from each dishes to compose their own meal.


Personal Knowledge Meze is a good explanation of what is PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) and it shares the same Three Letter Acronym.

Personal knowledge processes are rather similar from person to person: reading, inventing, watching videos, creating, trying, taking notes, sharing our experiences. What is different is the mix: choices and quantity.

We can agree on each process and explore them in depth like we share recipes of typical meze dishes: Hummus, Falafel. Some like it spicier, with more oil but it stays the same. This is the goal of the Periodic table of Knowledge processes.

Later we compose them based on our needs, our goals and taste. When you sit at a Meze you can have a fully vegetarian meal while sitting at the same table, sharing your meal with grilled meat lover. The same applies for PKM. Some like to focus on learning and sharing only, some prefer to learn, apply and deepen the understanding until they reach new ideas. Picking dishes from a meze is to eat wisely and optimize your pleasure. PKM is to get quicker and deeper on knowledge, while avoiding overload.

Now imagine 10 persons in front of a very rich Meze with 18 dishes. Ask each of them who they would compose their dream meal out of it. When you collect all those views you can have a reasonably faithful image of what PKM really is.

It seems a bit unnatural to interview people on what they will eat in the next minute. Eating is part of us. Being selective and attracted by nice food is also deep in us. We don’t intellectualize it, we don’t have a reflective thinking of it, we don’t name it. PKM is also like this. Most people in various knowledge base work practice PKM continuously but they don’t name it. They just do it. If you stop them they will describe the processes they used but not the whole.

I want to hear how people combine knowledge processes without naming it ‘management’. let’s just compare our mix.

I picked this idea from our last PKMChat on promoting PKM. It’s my main takeaway.

I found the analogy later, I’m always interested in fine cuisine.

Were I came from

I arrange this chat to think collectively on two ideas keeping me busy recently.

  • Most people I meet keep learning, developing their career, expertise. Almost none of them use the words Personal Knowledge Management. For this goal, they use plenty of means, some unknown to me. Last week in Paris I discovered hackjams. 30 people in a room unpacking a new software library and trying to rebuild it to understand it deeply and quickly. When they describe how they learn and maintain their knowledge it’s very similar to me, just they don’t name it and don’t overthink it.

  • PKMChat audience is shrinking and we wish to promote it, bring more people to participate. How do you promote a chat if the concept central to it is not understood? I don’t want to start a movement like #WOL, I like freedom too much. It’s not formalized and documented like GTD. Everyone could use GTD, even with no learning involved. I don’t want either to reduce PKMChat to the prepackaged bento Seek Sense Share wich is known only in the L&D community, it would be thinking inside the box.

This idea of meze expresses clearly the idea of being free to compose one’s menu at every time. Each time you share a meze you can taste different dishes. You can have a veg period for 3 months, followed by a protein low carb diet for another 3 months. It’s adaptable until the last minute. What stays are the elementary process. We can share our mastery in each of them, let people discover new ones, share learning tips. What brings value is to share our mix and which overall benefits we get from them.

Key Tweets

Here are the key tweets I collected from this chat:

PKM is not a widely used acronym

PKM is a natural activity, “open source” (no ownership)

Let’s just say PKM is a mix in a choice. What we bring from the original definition is the list of possible processes. It’s an open list but it’s a great base to choose from. Everything you can do to create knowledge flows and optimize the use of it.

PKM is really the mix you make for yourself, Organic PKM.

while doing so you eventually share on how you learn, get deeper on things.

What do think? feel free to add your point of view below or on Twitter