Of late, I seem to be having trouble with finding information for my posts. Now don’t get me wrong, I have loads of sources. In fact, the sheer amount of sources is the problem. What with delicious, my RSS feeds, my twitter, my friend feed, Addictomatic, and of course the indomitable Google, I find myself lost in a bewildering and overwhelming information forest. It the opposite of the old adage “can’t see the forest for the trees”. I can’t see the trees for the forest!
There has been a lot of buzz of late about “information diets”, and I never really understood until now. In order to swim in this surging information stream, you have to be able to tame the currents. I have begun to find my own ways of taming the currents:
1) Prune, and prune often.
This is possibly the simplest way to cut the fat when it comes to your information intake. Not only should you go through all of your bookmarks on a regular basis, but also cut out unnecessary friendfeeds, twitters, and RSS feeds. In order to not be overwhelmed, I recommend doing this every two weeks or so. You will be surprised not only at the amount of worthless links that have accumulated, but also the amount of online gems that are buried in amongst all the fluff.
2) Use specialized searches.
Finding a couple of specialized search engines for specific types of research can significantly reduce your “sifting time”. A few of my favorites are Google scholar for work or school research, and Addict-o-matic for researching current events.
3) Organize your information simply and consistently.
Your RSS feeds and bookmarks should both be maintained in a streamlined form that makes it easy to file your new links, as well as easy to find the information when you need it. I also recommend finding a new way to store links to stories that you just want to read and discard. You can use a app such as Google notebook, or if you’re lucky like me you can try out the new Evernote beta.
My current favorite is using the read it later add on for Firefox. Of course this is by no means the only way to get things organized.
The simply point is this: in order to be the information guru that we all want to be, one needs not only to be able to get into the infostream, they need to tame the currents!
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