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 How do you curate your technical knowledge?

ROCKETEER posted 02-18-2021 06:51
I'm researching methods for collecting, curating and sharing technical product knowledge and would like to know what you find works for you.

My experiences so far..
I'm aware of and have used various software products such as MS OneNote, Evernote, Wiki, SharePoint even PowerPoint and Excel etc. for capturing files, lists, links, audio, video and screengrabs, but these are the tools not the 'method' however you may have found ways to make them perform for you.
I've also tried making mind-maps, which are great fun but time-consuming and not easy to edit or maintain or share, even when using Coggle because technical info keeps changing.
I want to avoid the dangers of just hoarding one-off info-bites, or spending too long fiddling and formatting data that I won't use again, and instead try to find a way to classify and order the info so it can be found, enhanced and shared.
One popular method is to let a search feature do the work (google it!), then trawl through search hits to find the first credible answer (which I think is right) and bookmark it in a group for future use. Then forget about it, and later have to search my hoard of thousands of bookmarks to find the bookmark - aargh..
I think what I want is a Mind Palace which I can share!

Can you share what works for you?
I once tried setting up a WIKI but found it too cumbersome and time consuming. I resorted back to the belts and braces method: I keep Word documents titled "XXXXX Tips & Tricks" where XXXXX is the topic, e.g. D3, Windows, Excel, etc. I realise this is far from the best solution, but it's quick and easy. To find something I just search the appropriate document's TOC or do a string search if I can't find the appropriate TOC entry. All the documents are stored in a folder called "Knowledgebase" and are thus easy to find.

I too would prefer a better way that's easy to update and search, but am just too busy with actually working to research this and change my ways.
PARTNER
OneNote absolutely superb all support and technical documentation shared between all our staff.

Use if for all projects also can have it on your phone or tablet

David
This is timely, I just grabbed a "free while small" wiki product that some friends are using and I'm tinkering to see if it will be a good solution for me. I will be curating multiple categories of things, but knowledgebase about PRC is critical. I've previously also used the tip sheets with a good naming structure in a folder - but it's big to share around and not as searcheable as you might want. I'm hoping a wiki will be my solution. I'll come find this thread and let you know how it goes.
Hello Mark. We have been using https://www.jitbit.com/.
PARTNER
I think you will get value from investigating a Workplace Social Collaboration platform.

These allow you to create content in numerous formats, aggregate them in places/groups/teams for specific purposes and even apply tags and categories to help identify and search content.

Commercial offerings such as https://www.mangoapps.com/  and https://www.igloosoftware.com/ will facilitate this level of knowledge sharing and curation. There certainly are other offerings suitable for many different size businesses.
ROCKETEER
Thanks for the contributions so far. There are many fabulous knowledgebase / sharing tools out there. JitBit looks cool.
I am joining a meeting on Friday to brainstorm this further. I'm looking at the following process which is loosely based on this article:

PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

The video is a bit teased out but the pages has some solid concepts. It does not dwell on a software tool - it is more about the process of curating info.
ROCKETEER
Well - as mentioned,  we had our collaboration meeting about this, and are planning more this week.
Each person has their own preference, and most start with pen & paper notes. Many are using OneNote and some prefer MS Word. And although sharing their info is not high on the list of priorities, planning to share definitely improves the quality and organization of the technical info!

After taking notes on paper, we decide whether to 'write-them-up' or not based on whether it is worth sharing or not. People don't tend to convert their paper notes to digital unless it is going to be shared, and this is where the tech comes in along with some discipline as follows:
When you handwrite a note or make a quick copy of something, make sure it has enough context so you can remember what it was for in 60 days time!
When you return to it (within a week or so) and decide to write-it-up in your app of choice then you can add more, like an image or icon to anchor the association. Pictures really help with recall. Also when cleaning up a note try to combine it with another or reference another to tie it into your collection.
Each time you add new stuff to your digital knowledgebase is an opportunity to create, merge or remove the categories you may have created in your knowledgebase. But this only works if the tool you are using has effective tagging or grouping features. Categories are usually implied by your folder & file naming conventions
E.g. in OneNote you have the following choices: the notebook name, the section names in the notebook - which are like folders, optional sub-section names, and then the actual pages names in the sections. These make up the obvious hierarchy of categories. The temptation is to make new categories for everything, but I find it is best to only make new ones when I have 3 or more related items. I also tend to use one page per note and try (but often fail)  to keep it to one screen-full to avoid the need to scroll down to find something.

We still need to decide on how to classify tech info. The search for effective categorization of technical knowledge continues. (There is a 216 page PDF on the 'Taxonomy of Education Objectives' by Bloom - but that may be for another day :). Talking of search - why bother with section and pages if you can just do a global search of your notes? Well, the hit results in OneNote are listed by Page name within section names, so you still need a useful naming convention.

If you want to share how you classify your tech info (especially if it is about Rocket Software Products) - then please do because you could have a system which can help us all.
Below is what I use in one of my dumping-group OneNote notebooks (COLLECTION is my default initial capture section)- I also have a sub-section for pages on each Rocket product, which is a very basic level of categorization.

#knowledge
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ROCKETEER

I know it's a struggle to manage the bits and pieces of knowledge that are needed every other month or less so they do have acertain probability of not getting memorized or added to the "routine tasks" list that soon.

I started out with just writing them down in a plaintext file. That was okay, but got a bit messy over time, notes regarding different modules or different products all in one place - not so fine.
So I went on to having several plaintext files, crossed the small town of "create a directory structure", visited emacs ... and ended up with trilium, which so far perfectly suites my needs.

It supports node structures, you can throw any kind of file at a note and it gets attached, link notes to nodes or just link a keyword in a note to another note - and there's more options which I did not explore yet, so I don't seem to be needing them. There's a standalone app and a "Web-version" which allows easy synchronization accross devices and there's a browser-plugin which allows to just save that hard found solution you found on the internet directly to trilium.

The disatvantage: It's single user, so probably not suitable for a team (never tried being logged on multiple times).
https://github.com/zadam/trilium

ROCKETEER
I write and capture short notes by hand in my Rocketbook. By using the associated app I am then able to scan and capture the page (with some OCR capabilities) and send the page to one of a number of different destinations including OneDrive, OneNote, iCloud or email. Once scanned you can wipe the page clear with a cloth and water, dry and reuse the page(s) in the note book. (Rocketbook note book - https://rocketbookhelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us )
ROCKETEER
In the Legasuite Lab, we have lots of ways to store information : Jira Issues, Readme text files in code bases, word documents, powerpoints.
We use Wiki to share the information and include any relevant links where necessary to the appropriate document(s), jiras etc .

Each development team have their own Wiki section to store team specific information eg overview of bi-weekly end of sprint demos
We have Product sections to help people with product information eg which customers are using which products with which configuration

The Wiki supports searching and of course you can create bookmarks to the pages you frequently require.
PARTNER
Mark. All. Greetings.

For me, the central issue is that we are looking for meaning through word search, rankings, etc.
I work with the model (which should not be new to you) where each document is an information cell that contains a classification by essential ideas / concepts contained in the text of the document (recorded in metadata). I also establish cross references between the cells, only between essential information, carefully chosen.
I also use filters that allow me to periodically analyze the contents. They provide indicators about the texts in the system.
I adopted this model because, even in technical texts, there are inaccuracies, implicit ideas and derived ideas / meanings that are essential when one wants to retrieve (rescue) information.

This requires some investment of time that I consider "added value" to the information. The time invested in intentional indexing will result in time savings, multiplied by the thousands of future queries to the collection.
So there is no time wasted unless information of little use is being fed.
For information with low probability of use, you can use the Full Text search system with a associated technical dictionary (which is becoming more and more powerful), such as that of the Folio Views and NXT technologies.

One could ask how to do this if we have an immense mass of data to index in a short period. The answer is that it can be done, partially (with limitations due to the semantics), through "filters".

Best regards;
Sorry for late reply. We use a cloud, team project management tool (Azure Devops) that has a wiki and searchable job tickets. You can use the wiki or if you've applied a certain solution to a job (bug/feature) you can document what you used with the ticket. Search within the tool will bring it up again. Atlassian (Jira) has the same.