The KSeeker

In Search of Knowledge…

Tackling Information Overload – Part 1

Posted by Girish Krishnan on January 9, 2007

In this era of information overload it is essential to read only (or at least) what is important and ignore the rest of the content which may be beyond our daily assimilation capability. The question is “How do you do that?”. A decade ago, all of us resorted to reading a good daily to keep in touch with the happenings of the world – Probably at that time we could digest most of the content but seriously speaking more than 80% of the information wasnt useful – especially when you analyse it from the perspective of using that knowledge in our day to day life.

Things have improved now, and the information packages have been spliced into the most miniature feeds and these are made available across all diverse fields – The challenge has shifted from Information availability to Making a choice!.

Refining the question that was posed earlier, the present day’s challenge is – “How do you choose from the loads of information available in the internet?”

There are three important steps that help decide this –

1) Zero in on the fields/subjects you are interested in
2) Assign importance to figure out what you should read under each subject
3) Be efficient in sorting/sifting through the content for Daily/Weekly/Monthly Reads

There is definitely not one solution/source that can give you all this. All of us are interested in multiple fields/domains and it is imperative that the best sources catering to these diverse fields are themselves diverse in existence. But here are some generic tips that could be used to achieve our goal…

Look at the buzz factor that the content has among the lively/happening section of your contemporaries. For example reading Bloomberg or the Economist is considered pretty neat among MBAs from elite schools and these could feature in some of your day to day discussions – So the first tip is to pick up stuff that have a Buzz factor!

If you have ever felt like you had to dig around the Internet for good content, you might want to look at something called Digg (digg.com). Digg is a site that will help you avoid the process of digging and instead, get exactly what others have dug up so you can see some of the great sites/stories/things out there on the Internet. Digg epitomizes the value of collective intelligence and community on the Internet in a way that not only brings value to its users, but also to businesses that are savvy enough to take advantage.

Make sure that you dont subscribe to too many feeds in your feedreader. The greedy pig that i am, i oversubscribe and pay a price by repeatedly having that guilty feeling of not being able to read all the stuff i want to catch up with!
I use a newsgator account to maintain my list of feeds so that i can use the same list from multiple machines (even if i am using a thick client – “Feeddemon” which downloads relevant articles and saves in my local drives). This also keeps track of articles i have read and the ones that are unread – and kind of synchronizes multiple machines from which i access the news items.

The reader you opt to use is a personal preference – and there are lot of good web readers available – you could try newsgator, netvibes,pageflakes, google reader etc

I know i havent answered the problem of how to select the best articles that one needs to read, but thats because i cant think of a generic solution at this point in time. Will keep you people posted as and when i get good ideas…any kind of idea reciprocation also would be great!

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One Response to “Tackling Information Overload – Part 1”

  1. Ramki said

    So, how successful have you been in controlling the information flowing into your inbox/RSS reader? 🙂
    I am still stuck with my 200+ feeds and inability to group them. Even the grouping of related feeds in Newsgator isn’t too great.
    And regarding the transfer of information from machine to machine, RSS Bandit and Snarfer offer you sync with Newsgator and Bloglines respectively. RSS Bandit actually allows you to store your feeds at a remote place (it needn’t be another feed reader).
    But, I am not going to move from Google Reader unless something really brilliant comes along. I don’t know what Yahoo has done to Searchfox, but it is a product on those lines that I am looking for.
    Also, I wouldn’t recommend looking at digg.com for the buzz factor. Since it is user controlled there is every chance that you might miss something important. Look at /. and techcrunch for a combination of techie and web related news. And look at Businessweek for business related ones.

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