Conceptual data structures for personal knowledge management

Max Völkel (Forschungszentrum für Informatik, Universität Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany)
Heiko Haller (Forschungszentrum für Informatik, Universität Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 17 April 2009



The purpose of the paper is to design a model and tools that are capable of representing and handling personal knowledge in different degrees of structuredness and formalisation, and usable and extensible by end‐users.


This paper presents the results of analysing literature and various data models and formalisms used to structure information on the desktop.


The unified data model (CDS) is capable of representing structures from various information tools, including documents, file systems, hypertext, tagging and mind maps. The five knowledge axes of CDS are identity, order, hierarchy, annotation and linking.

Research limitations/implications

The CDS model is based on text. Extensions for multimedia annotations have not been investigated.

Practical implications

Future personal knowledge management (PKM) tools should take the mentioned shortcoming of existing PKM tools into account. Implementing the CDS model can be a way to make PKM tools interoperable.


This paper presents research combining cognitive psychology, personal knowledge management and semantic web technologies. The CDS model provides a way to let end‐users work on different levels of granularity and different levels of formality in one environment.



Völkel, M. and Haller, H. (2009), "Conceptual data structures for personal knowledge management", Online Information Review, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 298-315.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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