What are your professional knowledge databases?

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What is the real difference between an amateur and an expert? You could easily say many things, like experience, but what we usually mean is that the expert is more knowledgeable in the subject than the amateur. And I think that this is generally true. But the biggest difference is that the experts know where to look for the relevant information when they need it. That the experts have access to the relevant knowledge databases that the experts use as expansion packs for their memory.

I’ve learned a lot of stuff during my life but I think I’ve forgotten even more. There is only a finite amount of information I can access right now, with just a blink of an eye. The rest is locked away in my subconscious. Currently, I remember a lot of Robot Framework expressions and libraries by heart, because I work with them daily. But I know that if I stopped doing it daily, within a year or two, I won’t remember the syntax or the names of the libraries on the top of my head.

What I mean, is that the experts know what needs to be known in their domain but they don’t necessarily keep that knowledge in their own brains. They have professional knowledge databases that keep it updated and organized for them. And this makes it possible for them to access vast swathes of knowledge that they otherwise couldn’t.

What are these knowledge databases? They can be online databases, they can be books, they can be physical notes and binders, they can be videos on Youtube, they can be audio podcasts, they can be sticky notes on your wall, they can be your notes on your mobile phone – they can exist in many different forms but they all act as easily accessible repositories of relevant data.

An expert who has been working in the field for many years has gathered a huge number of folders containing relevant text documents and spreadsheets to access later. How the expert organizes and structures this personal professional knowledge, is the key enabler for the expert to be effective and excel in their field. This personal knowledge database is something that can take years to gather, and it never stops growing.

It is the end of this blog post and I want to mention some tools that can be used. Zettelkasten is a method for organizing your thoughts in a structured manner. In the Zettelkasten system, you create notes and connect them to each other with tags and cross-references, creating your own web of thoughts.  You could create a Zettelkasten for Robot Framework and make it your collection of the relevant Robot Framework expressions, libraries, syntax and all the other related relevant information.

This is what I’ve been trying to do in my personal project Roboscripts.org (https://www.roboscripts.org/), where I collect all the best Robot Framework libraries and scripts. It works as an online database for Robot Framework that can be used to quickly access the relevant libraries and keywords. In other words, a professional knowledge database for everyone to use.

Sources:

Personal knowledge management, Wikipedia, Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_knowledge_management

Zettelkasten, Available: https://zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/

Roboscripts.org, Available: https://www.roboscripts.org/

Tuukka Virtanen

About

Test automation consultant with technical experience in test automation and quality assurance. TMap Next certified Test Engineer with knowledge in test planning and execution and test design techniques. Master of Science in Information Management. Indie game development as a side project. Creative and visual thinker. The latest assignment included web and mobile game test automation with Appium and Robot Framework in an Agile customer project and regression test automation for websites.

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