Here’s a brief summary of one of the finest papers on PKM for Cost-Benefit Analysis for the Design of Personal Knowledge Management Systems" and was written by Max Völkel and Andreas Abecker.
The paper presents a cost-benefit analysis framework for personal knowledge management (PKM) systems. The goal of PKM is to help individuals manage and efficiently access their personal knowledge and information.
The key tradeoff is between the costs of externalizing and structuring knowledge versus the benefits of more effective retrieval. The authors propose a Unified Knowledge Model (UKM) to represent both documents and ontologies to analyze these costs and benefits.
The UKM consists of knowledge items (representing concepts or facts) and statements linking those items. Documents can be modeled by linking content items, and ontologies are sets of formal statements.
The costs include:
- Externalization costs (authoring and structuring knowledge)
- Retrieval costs (searching, browsing, evaluating results)
Benefits come from successfully finding useful knowledge items for a task.
They present a formula for overall gain:
Gain = Σ Benefits - Σ Externalization Costs - Σ Retrieval Costs
More structure improves retrieval precision but increases externalization effort. There is a sweet spot balancing the two (Figure 3 in paper).
They demonstrate applying the cost model to semantic wikis as an example PKM system. Future work includes quantifying the costs and benefits more precisely based on analyzing knowledge models.
The key insight is providing a framework to conceptually understand the tradeoffs in PKM system design, to build systems that maximize net benefit and adoption by users.