REALLY, REALLY Supercharge Twitter with my6sense for Chrome

It’s all about Twitter today. My last post discussed Smartr on your iPhone as a means for soaring through the links in your Twitter streams and lists in order to fully realize the value of real-time news.

But just as exciting (if not more so since Chrome is accessible to anyone with a computer) is the advent of the my6sense Chrome Web / Twitter extension.

my6sense has been a mobile application that uses an AI engine to find the most relevant information from your various social streams and present them to you in reverse relevance order. I have been using the app for ages on my phone and rely heavily on it when I need a surgeon’s instrument to cut through the huge masses of information flowing through my raw data sources. my6sense gets better as you use it – it “learns” your reading and sharing behavior and presents even more relevant information as a result. They call it “digital intuition.” I call it a massive time saver.

But what if you don’t have an Android phone or iPhone. Well, now you can still get some my6sense goodness with their new Chrome extension and Twitter. From their site:

my6sense for Twitter.com displays the most important updates from your Twitter stream, for you, in a dedicated, new, tab. We use ‘Digital Intuition’, based on your input, to rank your tweets, so you can be sure you won’t miss out on critical updates from your friends or top news sources. Skip the noise and stop sifting – my6sense surfaces the best of the web for you, right in Twitter!

It merges beautifully with your Web-based Twitter page, showing you the most relevant tweets at the top, regardless of when they may have been posted, although you can filter from the past 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours of tweets. Your my6sense ranking is accessible via a menu tab at the top of your stream. It focuses on the links, not the raw updates, so you get a cleaner news-heavy stream. Click “my top tweets” or “refresh” to get a different view of the most relevant information.

The my6sense treatment works great for getting top news and should be used in conjunction with your regular view to ensure you are getting your top conversations as well – as noted above, the extension tends to filter our link-free tweets. But, that said, giving a quick glance at your my6sense stream gets you the goods faster than Web alone. And, the more you use it, the better it gets.

Thanks my6sense for bringing relevance to the masses!

Tech Addiction & Information Overload

I was compelled to open and read an article in my Google Reader from Lifehacker’s Adam Dachis entitled Why Technology is So Addictive and How You Can Avoid It (link here). I know, I know. To the casual observer, I probably fall squarely within the dopamine-addled masses who reach for their smartphone or iPad whenever there is a break in the level of external, non-tech stimulation. But I have grappled with this concept over the past several months. Not so much because I fear addiction, but more because I really don’t want to spend any more time on technology than I really must to reach the end I want to achieve.

O.k., English please. What I am saying is that technology, like your average hammer or pencil, is simply a tool. A means to an end. That end differs for different users (and I really don’t mean users in the druggie sense). Technology affords a compelling precision implement, a surgical scalpel, that can lessen the weight of otherwise heavy tasks. Such as staying on top of your area of expertise. Or staying in meaningful contact with people who are important to you, whether for business or personal reasons, and sharing relevant information.

Because of technology, we can now send greater quantity of higher quality communications and information to a larger audience. In turn, we (arguably) can absorb a greater quantity of higher quality and more timely information that might help us make important decisions across the spectrum of our needs. That is why the tech explosion of late has pulled along so many mainstream users – look, Auntie M, I can now get my daily updates on Cousin Lulu without having to pick up a phone, or even write an email.

I am not going to touch Mr. Dachis’ points on tech-etiquette here. I would like to assume that Studio Readers already know how to prioritize human interaction and tech interaction. But I do wish to point out Mr. Dachis’ cause for such addiction and overload issues and suggested remedy.:

One effective way of dealing with information overload is actually organizing information. This may be an obvious one, but most of us think more about organization than actually doing it. You’re going to get organized at some point, so you might as well start now (if you haven’t, that is). Email is one of the toughest things to get under control and there are more solutions out there than you could ever really try. Google’s new Priority Inbox is a great new way to focus on the important messages in your inbox. A Chrome and Firefox extension called Boomerang lets you schedule when you send and receive emails. Communicating through speed appropriate channels rather than funneling everything through email can help, too. You can even offload distractions to an iPad, or another device you have, so you can focus on specific things on specific devices. However you organize your information, just be sure to evolve your system to fit changes in the way your information flows.

Really, so much of the handling of our technology depends on implementing efficiencies so that the tech is a helpful passenger rather than the driver of the vehicle. For example, just last night, I spent about a half hour reorganizing my iPad feed readers. I have determined from the past few months that I can cut through my feeds faster if I can read them in an uncluttered, visual format on the iPad. So, I now have two text-based and two magazine-layout-based readers on my iPad, with different feeds in each app. Why? Because I can blow right through the most important feeds on the visual readers in record time. If I have additional time, I can always go to the text-based readers to hit more detail.

The future of the web is relevancy. To me, it is far more important to be relevant than it is to be fast. Along with my post this morning about Google’s new Priority Inbox that will automatically sort your email for you, the list of applications that cater to relevancy while improving delivery speed are growing. Filters like Google Reader’s “magic” setting and apps like Feedly, my6sense, Zite and Lazyfeed are making it easer to spend less time researching and more time creating. My admonition to lawyers, professionals or, really, anyone on the Web is to get to know these filtering systems and use them to avoid overload and the addiction necessary to stay on top of the overload. At first it will require spending more time getting up to speed and implementing your chosen method. But ultimately, you might even end up with enough time to start a new hobby. Like stamp collecting. Or gardening.

Speeding Up the Search For Gold

How do you find what you are looking for before you even know you are looking for it?

What is the Web for, if not mining for that golden nugget of information on your topic of interest? If you are a business professional, you need solid information on your brand, competitors, industry developments, and best practices. If you are a blogger or are looking to distinguish yourself as an information agent, you need to stay on top of the news and cutting-edge advancements of interest to your audience.

Let’s face it, though. The depth and breadth of the Web today is a blessing and a curse. There is no shortage of detail and the lag between newsworthy event and press time is ever-shrinking. How do news brokers cope?

I am always looking for means to increase efficiencies. There is nothing I like better than the “a-ha” moment. And I like a healthy challenge – taming the raging firehose of the Web presents a substantial one. So, I am sharing here a few thoughts on my own, current process for reducing time investment and realizing greatest gain.

Say what you will about Twitter replacing RSS, but I still bank much of my time with some form or another of RSS reader. I can easily pick and choose my trusted sources and, while I sacrifice some “real time” gain, I believe I realize a more distilled result. I’m not saying Twitter is not a valuable information gathering tool: I simply cannot justify on most days the time needed to really crunch through lists and then parse the hordes of tweets. People tend to really spew when their per-spew investment is a mere 140 characters.

But even RSS can get overwhelming and I often don’t have sufficient time to fully digest that meal. So, how do I grab the most nutrient-packed snack?

Right now, I am using a few applications to this end. I am using Google Reader, but employing the “magic” filter on the shares of a number of fine web distributors and RSS feeds covering my topics of interest. I follow this with a quick glance at the lists sorted by time to ensure I haven’t missed the latest and greatest within that RSS-driven world.

I can get an even more condensed version of this relevance-weighted information via Feedly, either on my Firefox or Chrome desktop browser. Feedly does a great job of displaying pertinent posts. It also gives me a little feedback on how the Twitterverse is viewing my shares via its Karma feature.

I also have been relying more and more on the intuition-based iPhone application, my6sense. Despite somewhat lengthy load times and a rather annoying bug on the retweet feature, this app has been doing an excellent job of meshing my interests from RSS subscriptions, social feeds, and other sources into a tightly-condensed stream. I grap a look at it whenever I find myself out, about, and waiting in line. I can quickly share what I find to my favorite social networks.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, while there is a great deal of overlap between these sources, it is not complete. There is just enough variation to justify my continued use of all of them.

As far as Twitter is concerned, I still do not feel that I have tamed that savage beast. Organizing all of my follows into groups (albeit private ones for my own consumption) has helped but has not solved my dilemma. TwitterTim.es offers a fairly unique method of organizing the most popular tweets among my follows and I have found some good stuff there. my6sense does apply its magic to my Twitter stream, but I think it is biting off more than it can chew – my own tweets are featured as heavily as my follows’ tweets. So I am still waiting for that killer Twitter-prospecting tool that will give me the most value for the least time investment.

Do you have any tips, tools, or tactics for digesting the Web? I would love to know how you are managing your own process.

Digital Curation Or Horder Syndrome?

The news du jour is all about curation. Digital curation, that is. I have noted a higher than average concentration of writing on this topic over the past few days. Clearly, people are interested in it. And that makes good sense to me.

What is digital curation? In its broadest sense, curation is the act of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts. Libraries and museums are excellent real world examples of curation. Digital curation refers more narrowly to the process of establshing and developing long-term repositories of digital assets, per Wikipedia’s entry on the topic. Good luck finding a more concrete explanation than that.

I will try to provide one. For me, digital curation is the gentle swirling of the prospectors’ pan while looking for lumps of gold among the gravel. Through this blog, Reader shares and various social media posts, I attempt to act as a digital curator – I spend my on-line time scanning readers, blogs, tweets, and other content for interesting information that may be useful to me and to people who subscribe to my content. I am a human curator and, hopefully, I provide a shortcut to better information through my blog posts and other social networking channels.

There are other ways to secure curated content. You can employ web tools that automate the process of material selection. The best of these automated offerings will attempt to “read” your interests and respond accordingly.  Google Reader has recently incorporated a setting called “magic” that purports to sort the mountains of content and push the news most likely to be of interest to you to the top of the pile. Feedly, the fantastic add-on for Firefox and now Chrome, does the same and takes it a step further by presenting the content in an easy-read format with precise controls over preferred sources. Lazyfeed, another Web tool, reads your tags and content from various media channels and funnels back to you the most relevant blog entries from across the ‘net. my6sense,an iPhone application, utilizes an algorithm called “digital intuition” to interpret your reading and sharing habits and feed back the content you are most likely to find compelling.

Other services, like MeeHive, Regator and Collected, organize and present the information in logical streams so that you can “cut right to the chase” of the particular news topics you are interested in.

For me, services such as these are a necessary antidote to the out-of-control flood of barely curated content flowing through Twitter and other social media sites. Apart from my few trusted resources, I find it difficult to use Twitter as a news source, particularly since I have no control over the arbitrary content choices  within the stream. The search function helps, but does not assure me that the “curator” is up to my standards. Time spent clicking on links and verifying the validity of the sources is better spent diving right into trustworthy content. As more and more content is generated, all of us are going to need proper curation to save us from web horders.

The list of helpful tools cited above is not exhaustive. It does offer a starting point for anyone interested in separating the wheat from the chaff. Rest assured the number of digital curation tools will be expanding – web experts such as Steve Rubel have taken the position that the future of the Web is digital curation and services that direct the flow of relevant information that is absorbed quickly, easily and smoothly. Rubel’s reasoning is that web denizens are “attention strapped.” I would describe it more as overstimulated. Effective digital curation is the cure for the overwhelm.

Do you have tips, tricks or tools to help you sift through to the diamonds? Please share with the class in the comments!