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Project: Personal Memex

Submitted by on January 27, 2009 – 9:50 pm 597 views 3 Comments

I’ve had some down time the last couple days, and figure it was time to cleanup my public project list.  Most of my work this last year has been solely focusing on building my own Personal Knowledge Management system – my Personal Memex.  I’ve written a number of articles in recent months focusing on open source knowledge management, and personal learning environments.  Much of this project has been spent researching tools, integrating them into 1 cohesive system, performing trial and error, and incrementally making progress.  I still have a ton of work todo.. in fact, this may easily be a multi-year project.

I’ve created an initial project page outlining the vision, current applications, and future areas of research.  This page should be considered a living document, and I plan to add more detail as I make progress.  I would love to hear feedback.

The Vision

Over the last few years, I’ve been interested in the fields of Personal Knowledge Management (or PKM) and Personal Learning Environments (or PLE).  I’ve been a knowledge worker as long as I can remember, and have subsequently searched long and hard for numerous software applications and systems to help me better process, organize, and retrieve information.  I’ve tried many different free and commercial solutions (outliners, PIMs, personal knowledge bases, mind mapping software, notebooks/pad, etc.), but none of then were 100% complete in my mind.  Then, In 2006 I came across Vannevar Bush, and learned about his amazing vision for the Memex (or “memory extender”).

Read more at: http://eric-blue.com/my-projects/personal-memex/

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  • Very interesting to see your overall system. I’m also a programmer, and one of the core reasons I chose this path was precisely to be able to create parts of such systems, which I always found myself hacking anwyay.

    It’s also interesting to note that almost all solutions nowadays are sorts of jigsaw puzzles with bits and pieces for different tasks. In the early days of the Simile group at MIT, I remember they had this Haystack interface which basic principle was to make all pieces work together using semantic information, so an email made sense to your IM “program” (or module), say. I can’t find any screenshot, though, but it was very impressive. I think it’s near the concept of a semantic desktop.

    (Btw I linked to your article from http://www.fsavard.com/flow/2009/01/eric-blues-personal-memex-and-personal-learning-environments/ )

  • ericblue76 says:


    Thanks for your comment. Yes, the jigsaw approach has worked well. But, I still have a way to go as far as overall integration of the different apps.

    I did checkout Haystack a couple years ago, and found it to be somewhat interesting. I also liked the fact that it was based on RCP (which is what Eclipse uses), however the main disadvantage was that it wasn’t web-based. I’ve found some great GUI apps, but ultimate desire the flexibility of having an HTML interface.

    I still need to figure out how Semantic desktops fit into my overall system. I’ve looked at Gnowsis in the past (now defunct I believe), and found it interesting that MindRaider (http://mindraider.sourceforge.net/) offered some sort of integration with it.

  • ericblue76 says:

    Received an interesting Tweet this morning from Kingsley Idehen, the founder and CEO of OpenLink Software.

    kidehen: @ericblue just read: http://tinyurl.com/aohh6q (personal memex). Also look at: http://tinyurl.com/c5k8z5 (ODS) #ods

    ODS, or OpenLink Data Spaces, looks intriguing. I definitely need to check this out and see if and how it integrates with my overall system.

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