Home Lab - a PKM for Some People

I came across an interesting video on YouTube titled "Virtualization Home Lab Guide", which makes me think about my PKM.  In fact, I am running a lot of systems building, model building in the past 1-1/2 year.  I am not that technical as the guy in the video.  I don't have that kind of servers in my home.  But I do have quite a number of paid online shared hosting server subscriptions (PaaS) on which I build my experimental and life sites and systems.

I am working mainly on a business analyst level bridging what's needed in business and feasible and sensible working solutions.  I build systems by integrating online applications (SaaS) with base system (mainly Open Source Content Management Systems such as Drupal), and create workable solutions on a on-demand manner.  That's what I call it the OSIP (Open Source Integration Platform) strategy.  That's basically how I started my KM journey by building the website of kmp.hk with a back-end supporting KM system.

Combined with my consultancy experience, I found that this OSIP strategy actually made a lot of sense, and by experimenting, this concept is proven working with a few working solutions as example.  Most importantly, I found that this actually solved a lot of real challenges in the IT area in a lot of business organizations, especially under today's fast changing and demanding business and market requirement.  Due to its low cost nature, it is very suitable for SMEs.

By working in this areas in the last 1-1/2 years, I also found and learned a lot of new open source projects in the world.  It is a lot of learning, testing and experimenting, which also build my confidence to offer consultancy in this area.

In knowledge management, we talk about the 4 aspects - people, process, technology and content.  This learning and experience would fit me into all of these aspects:

  • People - user experience, sense-making and stakeholder perspectives are basically what technology and systems should be addressed.
  • Process - processes and procedures in an organization can be integrated with the use of technology and systems, in both a departmental or cross-departmental, cross-functional manner.  Human-dependent procedures can be converted into a system process operation, which not only increasing efficiency by eliminating repetitive procedures, but also establishing the Structural Capital as part of the Intellectual Capital of an organization.
  • Technology - there are a lot of free or low-cost online applications and resources, available as SaaS or open source format, which enables our capability and flexibilities.
  • Content - One of the reason why an Open Source system is used as a base system becasue these Content Management System (CMS) will give us an excellent framework to start with without starting from raw, such as the complicated role/permission system, taxonomy and search system, theming and layout system, menu system, etc.  The advantage of open source is that, we can define the structure of the data content we like, and customized to our real need.  Therefore it is important for KMers to be able to participate in the system building process instead of using using a turn-key system, because we need to have our own design of data structure which fits user experience which is actually the habit of the organization users.

With the learning of all these, it gave me a lot of insights in running KM in an organization especially in these hard-tools areas.  If we look at the disruptive internet-based business changes in China in the past few years, it is a matter of innovation.  Most of these innovation, supported by internet and mobile technology, changes the business models, re-shuffling the game rules of many businesses.  We can see the power of technology influencing not only the business but also the consumers.  As a KM Practitioner, this is something we cannot fall behind.  If we cannot understand all these changes and how they affect our lives, it will not the kind of KM that people will accept.

In fact, these are not difficult to learn.  You don't need to be a programmer to do all these.  I studied computing, and I did programming but it was 30 years ago.  I already have lost all my such skills.  In today's technology, it is not necessary to be a programmer to build all these.  More important is the business sense.  All the tools already have become much more user-friendly nowadays.  You'll still need learning.  I have watched hundreds of videos, many online courses, looking for and following good people on the internet, etc.  It's all part of my PKM strategy, which I described in a video I created back in 2012/3 - https://youtu.be/uNku3yd2tJA.

I was lucky to have started working on this in 2015.  In fact, I started a disruptive change in myself starting 2009.  Learning in KM is one of my strategy to change myself.  I just didn't realize this revolutionary change would have taken that long, and still learning.  It helped me to change a lot of my original concepts and mindset.  It's not that I want to, but it is the way I can see how the market is going.

Finally, I plan to launch a series of workshop to share my experience with other KM practitioners who are interested.  It will be fun, because everyone participating will build their own individual systems.  It is a matter of experimenting and experience, and I hope by doing that, it will lead to inspirations about your organization, the market or yourselves.  It will be run in an online manner.  The first one will be a beta course, which will be input to my future more matured workshop, and will involve a small cost.  Costs are needed to cover some overheads and paid tools.  Whoever are interested, please pay attention to announcement either on the KMP website or on the Facebook page.