A Complete Guide to Tagging for Personal Knowledge Management

Source: https://fortelabs.co/blog/a-complete-guide-to-tagging-for-personal-knowledge-management/

  • Author has criticized harshly about tagging in this article

  • Author has changed their mind since.

  • There are two kinds of structure: hierarchies and networks.

    • It is easy to think that in a "network age" that hierarchies are a thing of a past and is too restrictive.
    • However this is not the case and history tells you otherwise.
      • Both have existed for a long time and has had tension and balance between them.
  • Hierarchies

    • System of nested groups.
    • inherently top-down.
  • Network

    • has no correct orientation.
    • Each node is autonomous.
    • there are only relationships between the nodes.
  • Hierarchies and network are not mutually exclusive.

  • Hierarchies and networks constantly give rise to each other.

    • Wikipedia grew with as a network of knowledge, but the rapid growth forced them to develop a hierarchy to govern the process of adding information.
  • Generally hierarchies are effective for large-scale environments and networks are useful for small-scale and rapid changing environments

  • Hierarchies are resilient, but it limits possibilities for interesting connections (that networks enable)

    • The purpose of tagging here is not to replace hierarchies but to complement it. To enable exploring interesting connections within a resilient structure of a hierarchy.
  • Tags as virtual spaces.

    • Think of tags as tunnels through our knowledge connection.
  • In a way tags give you a notion of "space" in your notes.

  • The Intelligent Use of Space. (read later)

    • Ways physical space can be utilized:
      1. To simplify perception
      2. To simplify choice
      3. To simplify thinking
    • These are the same things tags promise to provide.
      • Facilitating actions is important here.
  • Tagging for the knowledge lifecycle

    • Labeling the conceptual meaning of a knowledge is labor intensive.
    • Track the lifecycle of a note with tags instead.
      • e.g.)
        • Identifying knowledge
        • Capturing knowledge
        • Verifying knowledge
        • Interpreting knowledge
        • Organizing knowledge
        • Categorizing knowledge
        • Disseminating knowledge
        • Combining knowledge
        • Creating knowledge
        • Using knowledge
        • Re-evaluating knowledge
    • Benefits of this:
      • You only have a few of them, and they rarely change.
    • Not a new idea.
      • Robert Horn's "Information Mapping" (1969)
    • The overarching goal of knowledge collection is to put it to use in real projects.
    • On the surface, information mapping looked like something that would make writing easy, but it also makes reading easy.
    • Best use for labesl is an output mechanism, not an input mechanism.
      • By labeling our notes when they are being used, instead of when they are created, we move the work of tagging as close as possible to the problem it is meant to solve.
  • In the context of PKM

    1. Tag notes according to the actions taken or deliverables created with them
    2. Add structure slowly, in stages and only as needed, using accumulated material to guide you in what structures are needed
      • tempting to organize upfront and stick with it no matter what.
      • but it won't be perfect.
      • digital information is malleable. change as you go.
      • as notes accumulate, gently introduce tags that make sense for the pattern that arises.
      • it is perfectly okay to not tag a note at all.
    3. Tag notes according to their internal, external, and social context, and status
      • https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/science-managing-our-digital-stuff
      • Internal context
        • thoughts, feelings, associations, concerns, considerations you have about the note
      • External context
        • other notes, documents, folders, apps
      • Social context
        • other people who are related to the note. collaborators, source, shared
      • Current status
        • actions taken with the note, deliverables.
    4. Develop customized, profession-specific taxonomies
      • Over the history of information, the goal of taxonomies and categorization was to create a single, complete, comprehensive ordering of knowledge that any future idea can be placed into.
        • Explosion of information has rendered this goal unacheivable.
        • Too broad to be useful, too narrow to be universal
      • for specific fields taxonomies have value.
  • Scalability

    • it is only necessary to use tags when there are a lot of notes.
    • tags can provide essential metadata tha computers still cannot determine (what the note is about)
  • Ambient findability