So, how should we finally call it? PKM, KMS, KOS, SKOS, PKS, ZK…?

Researching on how to optimize my Knowledge System I found it quite confusing that all these terms are used interchangeably as the category name. Even I understand there are subtle differences in what each concept might mean, the actual fact is that almost everyone is using all these different names for describing the exact same thing: Basically building our own custom Wikipedia running on some bi-directional linking app :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

PKM - Personal Knowledge Management
KMS - Knowledge Management System
KOS - Knowledge Organization Systems
SKOS - Simple Knowledge Organization System
PKS - Personal Knowledge System
ZKM - Zettelkasten Knowledge Management

Ok, maybe the last one (ZK) might be a real different thing because it has a specific scope and its own rules, so I don’t include it. But for all the others, I think it should be condensed into one single term and acronym that we all understand and facilitates internet searches around the topic.

So, please, can we just set to agree on the best term and use that from now on whenever we write about this? :nerd_face:

  • PKM: Personal Knowledge Management
  • KMS: Knowledge Management System
  • KOS: Knowledge Organization Systems
  • SKOS: Simple Knowledge Organization System
  • PKS: Personal Knowledge System

0 voters

I don’t think we can settle on one single term. There’s just too many use cases people like to use Obsidian for. I personally see three different things people do: PKM (Personal Knowledge Management), PKD (Personal Knowledge Development), and Task Management.

  • Task management is organizing your tasks, keeping track of your commitments and appointments, and trying not to forget anything. Typical GTD or daily notes plugin things.
  • Knowledge management is about organizing and being able to (re)find knowledge/resources that you collect. I think this is what most people use Obsidian for. I see MOCs the way they often are advertised as a great example for that, or also the Zotero workflows.
  • Knowledge development is about learning new things, being creative, making new hypotheses and trying to validate/contradict them, and maybe becoming a better person. This is what I think Luhmann really did with his Zettelkasten. Another great example is @nickmilo’s latest video with @EleanorKonik: How to turn yo

I don’t think everyone is interested in all three areas. I certainly am not interested in Task Management, even though the daily notes plugin is super popular. But I think those three categories should do the trick for the moment. Or did I miss anything?


Professionally I do a lot of product management activity, and as part of my work I need to keep track of the things I need to do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, so on and so forth (task management).

Personally I am interested in a lot of areas, so I accumulate a lot of knowledge spread across these junctures (knowledge management).

But then again, my product management also involves validating hypotheses, product ideation and obtaining insights (knowledge development). This would draw from knowledge accumulated from the previous activity, since insights are often of multi-disciplinary nature.

Task management isn’t arguably universal (arguably though), but I think knowledge management and knowledge development would most likely go hand-in-hand together. Most professions, empirically speaking, collect knowledge in order to create new knowledge. I can think of an exception that is lawyers collecting various legal knowledge to present their cases, but I’d still argue there’s a creative element in that process as well.

I think the claim “I don’t think everyone is interested in using the same tool for all three areas” would resonate more with me, since I use Trello for task management, and Obsidian for the other two.


It isn’t feasible to find one term to encompass all possible note taking styles.

For example, I currently run two Obsidian vaults with two different focuses.

One vault is for work productivity, project management, etc. That is perhaps PKM.

The other is a zettelkasten, which is more about knowledge development than management.

If we accept your premise of finding a single term then am I doing PKM? Or ZK? Which is it?

But Project Management is completely another thing, also Product Management, Brand Management, all those activities have their own scope and specific terminology. I was not proposing to override or unify with those.

Also, Zettelkaste is a specific methodology of Knowledge Management. GTD is a specific methodology of Project Management, etc. There is not a conflictive overlapping with those. I didn’t mention those.

What I was wondering is if it wouldn’t be easier if we agree on one name for what appears to be called in five different ways to refer to the same idea:

PKM - Personal Knowledge Management
KMS - Knowledge Management System
KOS - Knowledge Organization Systems
SKOS - Simple Knowledge Organization System
PKS - Personal Knowledge System

If you make a quick internet search all those five names are indeed different terms currently used indistinctively for the same activity. Different people talk about PKM, KMS, KOS, SKOS, and PKS to refer to basically the same concept, which seems not to be quite helpful.

So, those sole 5 terms are the ones that I think could be useful to standardize. Not all the activities regarding knowledge management and organization because of course there are many useful variants on those.

SKOS is a technical standard from the W3C to encode thesauruses/ taxonomies in RDF.

KOS is used generically to refer to organizing structures such as taxonomies and ontologies.

I voted for PKM, which I see was the popular choice anyway.

Here’s another vote for “PKM”. Also, wanted to share a way to consider how different activities of PKM can potentially be classified.

In the following, there are six distinct types of PKM, but there is also a sense (through color and the subtle planet overlay) of how even distinct use cases will almost always overlap with other use cases.

So based on the PKM Planet graphic, let’s consider activities like the “knowledge development” in @EleanorKonik’s video that @sesi200 mentioned above… I would say the secret sauce of Eleanor’s work is driven in the area of PIM, where she takes the things she’s collected (PMM) and develops all sorts of awesome ideas…which then evolves into the activity of writing (PWM), which eventually results in a published article—meeting the deadline (PPM), all the while getting reps at the Craft (PSM)!

The reality is much more nuanced, complex, and un-graph-able, but as a simple graphic, perhaps this can help us figure out where we’re spending our time in the world of PKM.

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