personal reflections

Knowledge and Firehoses

I remember when I first joined Twitter I saw folks decreeing that it would kill RSS. I’m nearing my second Twitter anniversary and my RSS (Google Reader) is alive and well. In fact, I’m getting more value out it than ever. This conversation suggests that RSS is flawed (hating the info overload) and points to an article about declining visits to Google Reader.

I remember those same feelings of info overload until I came across Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Management (also see this presentation): creating a specific system that takes advantage of the firehose of online info. Learning goes up, info overload goes down.

Here’s my PKM in-a-nutshell:

  • Twitter for serendipitous finds (news and otherwise). Tweets I want to do something with (read later etc) get favourited.
  • Google Reader for blogs I follow. If I left it up to Twitter I’d miss their posts. I curate my feeds, vigilant about keeping the number low and try to use the one in/one out rule if I add someone new (I’m sitting at 66 feeds today, reading about 1500 items a month). I do most of my G-reading on my phone, so posts I want to read more in depth later get starred and those I want to share get shared. I’ve even added specific people’s Twitter feed to my G-reader to keep close eye on what they’re saying.
  • Delicious is my online brain. If I want to refer to it again then it goes in Delicious. I take time each week or so to go through my favourited Tweets and shared & starred items in Reader to add them to Delicious and Twitter via Amplify.
  • I also use a blog to keep track of all the books I’ve read and my fave excerpts. My Kindle has made this even easier.
  • Sharing happens through Twitter and Amplify for mini-conversations. My newest share platform is my second blog, where I synthesize various ideas and add my perspective.

Do you ever feel overloaded by online information? Ready to give up on Twitter or Google Reader? Maybe give PKM a try.

4 replies on “Knowledge and Firehoses”

Nice follow up Amanda! I may be using the “tools” differently than you. I’ve learned from your recent blog post that you use Reader to follow blogs. There aren’t many blogs that I follow. I mostly follow topics/tags. A Reader is just one way to follow favorite blogs; I prefer to follow them with Gmail, but like I said I don’t follow many. I do admit to not taking the necessary time to educate myself on Reader usage. I could have taken more time to customize the Reader to suit my needs. There are just easier ways to get news on a favorite niche topics in my opinion. Using Hootsuite with Twitter is a great way to monitor specific keywords. It provides up to the minute news on your favorite topics. I also enjoy using Google Buzz to find and discuss content, but my secret weapon is

I totally agree with your method, it is exactly how I manage my information; however, with one exception: I have learned to not care about unread items in my Google Reader and I have also learned to not delete any feeds I no longer care about. I just move those feeds to a folder called “less-read”. Ultimately, I am prioritizing my feeds into folders all the time. The high value feeds are always at the top and I bring new feeds into the same high value folder until I determine whether they should stay there or move down.

Lately I have also been using my Twitter following through Twitter Lists plugged into my Google Reader.

Bill and Arif – thanks for the perspectives. It’s fascinating how tools can be used in different ways. I agree with Arif’s fearless approach to “marking all as read” and have had to do that several times. I have some colleagues that leave some of their folders pile up as unread, only dipping into them when they need some inspiration for a project. (I love that “Your reading list has no unread messages” note too much to try that approach.) I haven’t played around with Twitter lists, but do use Tweetdeck for specific keyword searches and keep several searches constantly running. Closing my Vancouver Olympic column was the saddest – I didn’t want it to end!

The yourversion looks interesting (is it kind of like Alltop?). I haven’t thought about using aggregators (or curators) like that to search for topics. My current set-up is built more around following specific people. I can see benefit in branch out from using Twitter as my search to those kinds of services (including Google Alerts, I guess?).