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.