See it , Share it , Write it.
“How do you cope with all the information coming at you all the time?” was the question my Wife asked me last night.
She was looking over my shoulder at the several virtual screens and browser tabs and applications and utilities that sit on my computer desktop . I actually could not immediately explain to her why I was not preturbed. I could not define why it was that I do not feel up to my neck in information which seems likely to engulf and drown me at a moments notice.
Then like all metaphors badly stretched I realised that I was up to my neck in information and that this was not really a problem for me. I was experienced in swimming in deep pools of information and applications that define our daily activities. I knew I was accomplished enough to manage the sudden rip-tides of Blog or the sharp temperature changes of social network conversations. I had after all been learning to swim for the very purpose of being able to stray beyond the surf into the deep waters of information and then not caught out by it.
Like all professionals who work in an environment which can have its hazards and its benefits I have learnt to use the right equipment and the right methods. Some of these I have learnt from experience and training and others I have learnt by listening and working with others to develop the skills I need to be out here.
I hope you can share and learn something from these thoughts.
See it, note it.
The easiest task when surfing and searching the internet is to make notes as you go. Traditionally the storage for this information would be the browsers Bookmark or Favouritesoption. This lacks a certain amount of portability and organisation however since it can be tied to the browsers location. Bookmarking the site is not enough if you are trying to understand the context of what it was that you found interesting.
I use a social the bookmarking site Del.Icio.us to store my internet finds. It allows me to bookmark a site and enter some text to describe it as well as enter some tags to index and manage the information. As a Tip I suggest you use the Del.icio.us toolbar to TAG your bookmarks and before clicking on the TAG icon in the toolbar , highlight the first paragraph of the text, which is then automatically copied into the description section when tagged. When tagging an element I a number of fixed TAGS that I will use that help me identify where I might want to write about that content at a later date e.g; loudmouthman, oreillygmt or socialset. This has helped me collate and locate material at a later date and include it in documentation, blogs and reports.
When a site is tagged you will also see if other people have tagged and bookmarked this site and you can explore their bookmarks and conversations and gain a different insight into what it means to them.
To make the task of locating and reading several websites on a regular basis I use reader.google.com to collate the RSS feeds from popular websites, blogs, social bookmarks and twitter and lifestream sites. Aggregating them into one place reduces the physical work load of moving between sites and news and helps save your mental energies for the purpose of spotting and noting interesting discussions. Google reader also provides another way for you to share and book mark information internally.
See it, share it.
Both Del.icio.us and Google Reader provide a mechanism ( RSS ) that help you to off load the effort of telling other people about your find. Like many other social bookmarking sites they provide a widget that can be embedded within your own website, blog, homepage which can create the effect of keeping your blog or content current.
Some blogging tools include link publishing tools that will post the daily update of things you have Bookmarked straight to your site.If you are using Del.Icio.US then look for the Daily Blog Posting option under Blogging in the Settings Section.
See it, Write about it.
Judicious use of Google reader, bookmarking, tagging and descriptions makes the task of finding and locating items to discuss far easier. Deciding when and what to discuss comes with experience and is a personal decision.
Twitter or Blog ?
Twitter provides an excellent microformat in which to post links to items you have just bookmarked in de.lico.us. I have said in the past that Twitter lets you blog about the titles for which you do not need to say any more. Twitter creates conversations that can also take some of the slog out of searching for new or current topics so swimming with the Twitter crowd keeps you in the company of other strong swimmers of the internet stream.
Blogging a new discovery is made easier if your not under pressure to write about it there and then. You may feel that something is newsworthy and has a short lifecycle in which case be brief and concise and share quickly in you Blog and Social bookmarks.
A good bookmarking method will help you see where the tide is moving and how the conversations are ebbing and flowing.
I have learnt an awful lot about managing and prioritising conversations by first listening, then asking and then providing ideas and to give credit where its due I would thank ( in no special order ) , Mark Harrison, Chris Brogan, Jeremaih OwYang, Robert Scoble, Jeff Pulver … ahh heck every one of you that reads and comments here has contributed to the learning process.
The learning never stops and I would be interested to know what techniques and processes you have to stay afloat in the sea of information around us.
Thanks for reading.