Every organisation needs a knowledge base - that's intuitive and easy to navigate
A place to store and to find data, information and knowledge, that can used wisely to support right action.
The transition from Data to Wisdom
A well designed knowledge base should make capturing and finding information simple, and result in transformative action.
The CORA name stands for Capture, Organise, Refine and Action.
Capture data quickly, and into a system you can trust. Don’t worry about organising it yet. Data is any collection of facts, signals, or symbols.
Organise it into information that can be easily retrieved. Information is a collection of data arranged and ordered in a consistent way.
Refining, and noticing connections between sets of information, transforms it into knowledge that can answer questions or solve problems. Knowledge is a collection of information with its associated context - relationships between information-sets collected over time, to answer a question or solve a problem.
Action that reaches the desired outcome in the best possible way, comes from wisdom (experience and knowledge). Wisdom is the ability to select the best way to reach the desired outcome based on knowledge.
Two approaches to finding information
With the advent of personal computers around 1980, the amount of information is no longer constrained by physical materials or space, and we’re obliged to handle information of unprecedented volume and complexity in the course of our day to day lives.
We all have some form of digital information ecosystem, and methods to find and process it, but unless it is well designed we may be part of the
While search is a great tool it can let us down when the search term(s) are too general to focus the results and we end up with too many to choose from, or if the terms are too specific and only catch a few of the possible pages-packets-nodes.
And it turns out that search uses declarative memory, and requires us to ‘declare’ some specific content of the information we are looking for. This is a higher level brain function that requires more energy.
Manual navigation on the other hand has been shown to be the preferred approach when looking for files and information. This approach uses an older part of the brain which evolved to navigate spatial environments and is more natural for us. (Barreau 1995; Bergman et al. 2008; Fitchett and Cockburn 2015; Teevan et al. 2004)
How can we make manual navigation easier
First it’s important to acknowledge a human brain constraint, that we can only hold four things in mind at one time. So our information framework needs to offer a logical hierarchy with a minimal number of top level categories - specifically four. Then we can scan manually for files without having to know in advance their specific content.
In a system of four connected places in which all information is stored, the hierarchy is the magic ingredient. A minimal number of choices at the top level rewards the user with a way to know where to file, then later find anything they are looking for easily.
How did I get here
When seeking to create to manage the current information explosion, simple, user-friendly approaches will always beat sophisticated and complex ones.
I began building information databases in 1983 on a PC with a DOS operating system and a 20Mb hard drive. The early tools were clunky and had limited functionality, but over the past 40 years they have evolved enormously! In tandem with software developments the volume of information has also grown.
Then I came across a platform that let me organise pages of information (documents and notes) into connected databases, it was what I had been imagining and hoping for since forever.
This started a three year journey of creating CORA, a digital second brain or knowledge base, that mimics the neural connections between packets of information in our biological brain.
I now run regular webinars and coaching to help people step up and take responsibility for becoming guardian of their digital assets.
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