One concept that Josh Kaufman explains in The Personal MBA
products. When considering an existing market and the products in it, one can think about two approaches to provide value in the space: unbundling existing offerings into distinct products or bundling different products into a single one. Both approaches have merits.
I like how unbundling can help introduce more choices for customers and more options for power users. But unbundling also introduces a number of challenges.
Here are a few:
- User Experience across unbundled products is generally anything but harmonized (unless a single vendor unbundles their own products)
- Integration is a real challenge. If a product does not integrate with another, then a lot of plumbing is required to migrate data, synchronize systems, etc. There are also important risks to consider. If a vendor decides to remove support for certain integrations or APIs, then workflows can break. This also implies the need for maintaining the system as products evolve
- From an administrative point of view, unbundling generally means more payments to handle, more invoices, etc
- Data becomes scattered (or event duplicated) across more systems and vendors, which has implications for data security/privacy
- It’s really difficult to exploit the value at the intersection of different tools. For instance, if one tool is used to capture interesting links and another to store the extracted information, then it’s not easy to link everything together
I’m just thinking out loud here, but given the above points (and others that elude me right now), I feel like unbundling is definitely not the greatest approach for Personal Knowledge Management.
In general, and for my PKM system in particular, the fewer tools I need to use, the better. Fewer tools mean less mental overhead, less complexity, fewer data migrations, fewer integration issues, more consistency, better user experience, and better data security/privacy.
That’s one of the reasons for which I want to take the bundling approach with my PKM product. It will be a place for knowledge, ideas, and inspiration. I want it to be the solution that helps me:
- Discover and capture everything I find interesting (ideas, audio recordings, bookmarks, notes, thoughts, highlights, etc)
- Triage and prioritize what to consume more thoughtfully
- Consume and learn by reviewing/exploring what I’ve captured
- Think by taking notes, linking ideas, thoughts, knowledge, and content together
- Share thoughts, ideas, knowledge, and essays with the world without having to duplicate anything
- Expose my PKM through APIs so that integrations, extensions, and automation can be built around it
I can do all of this already. But to do so, I’m forced to use too many tools and to accept various tradeoffs. Also, I’m losing information and knowledge at the seams. Importantly, while using different tools does allow me to achieve my goals and provides me with a lot of control, it forces me to define my process separately. It forces me to make many impactful design decisions and adds a lot of mental overhead.
The good news is that since I’m suffering from the situation, I know exactly how to reduce the pain and make something valuable for myself and others.