Tag Archives: paper.li

Navigating a Sea of Information: Considerations and Tools

All, I hope the new year has been welcoming thus far. As promised, here are some of the considerations, processes and tools I use when navigating the daily seas of information. Keep in mind, this is merely the process that works for me and, therefore, it may not work as well for you as individualized processes can. I hope it can inspire some new perspectives, at least. Clearly, I’m a 21st century over-thinker.

I employ a four-step process for transforming information into action: Collecting, sorting, learning and implementingBelow, I only focus on collecting and sorting; learning and implementing are where individuals come into play.

Navigating the Seas of Information

  1. Collecting Information:
    1. Considerations: Why do I seek information? Where does the information I’m exposed to originate? How can I ensure a balanced diet of information?  While the first consideration is for the individual to decide for her/himself, I see four major areas of information sources, listed below. By viewing each of these sources as just as important as any other source, a balanced diet of information is possible.
      1. Authoritative: Websites, blogs, media, publications, speakers, etc.
      2. Social: Friends, family, coworkers, followers, etc.
      3. Experiential: The random experiences throughout the day that do not derive directly from authorities or social networks but happen nonetheless.
      4. Creative: The ideas, connections and questions we formulate within our minds, often spawned from other types of info sources.
    2. Tools:
      1. Google Reader (Website): This is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed that I use to centralize and automate Authoritative and Social information from all of the websites and blogs I so choose. Google Reader is a tremendous time saver as you don’t have to manually go to each site (I’m at 35 per day and counting) over and over throughout the day. Further, by sorting all of my different feeds into folders, I get a leg-up on the sorting of my information. You can mark items as being read/unread and star items as well–whatever helps you know which information is new or important. You can also send articles from G-Reader straight to Instapaper (see below). I only use G-Reader this when using a desktop/laptop, however. For mobile access to G-Reader I use Flipboard.
      2. Flipboard (Mobile: iOS, Android): This is my go-to mobile Authoritative & Social information app (free). I use Flipboard to access my G-Reader feeds, Twitter feeds/lists, Instagram and Facebook updates and other information sources. It is free and is, in my opinion, the most visually impressive and fully functional way to view information on the market today. Imagine a virtual magazine of everything you’re interested in and more. That is Flipboard.
      3. Tweetdeck (Desktop App): This is my Twitter (Authoritative and Social) client of choice when using desktops/laptops to help me sort and browse all of my Twitter feeds and lists (Twitter lists are a major step in towards making Twitter work for you). I use the browser version, but there’s also a fine desktop version. You can also send and schedule tweets from this app. Given Twitter’s recent API changes, the fact that Twitter owns Tweetdeck provides a sense of security with this tool.
      4. Social Networking Sites (Website and Mobile Apps): For Facebook and some of the newer social networks (Authoritative, Social), the best interface is the native website or the official mobile apps. Sure, there are a growing number of semi-effective Facebook clients out there, but none is quite as good as the original thus far–at least when it comes to content intake alone.
      5. Evernote/Mobile Devices: Evernote is the BEST way to capture any type of information as it is available for all platforms including mobile. Given that our phones are our ever-eager companions throughout experience, availability and ease-of-use make Evernote powerful. It is the best way to centralize and organize the information you collect throughout the day. This app allows you to collect any form of information media (photo, audio, video, text) and tag/catalog it for later.
      6. Email: Some of us still get information (Authoritative, Social), work or otherwise, via email. May not love it, but live with it we must…for now.
  2. Sorting Information
    1. Considerations: What information do I consider worth knowing? What are the different reasons to know something? How do we separate the important from the unimportant?  When considering how important information is, I typically consider these four factors:
      1. Urgency: Is this information time sensitive? Is someone else waiting for my response?
      2. Utility: Is this information useful for navigating different parts of my life?
      3. Passion: Is this information regarding something I’m already interested in?
      4. Inspiration: Perhaps this information is neither urgent, useful nor something I already care about. That doesn’t mean it can’t hold some tangential or inspirational value!
    2. Tools: Having collected information with the above tools, I skim and sift through article titles, ledes, and opening paragraphs before rerouting anything of interest (the four factors above) into these tools for later consumption:
      1. Instapaper:  Instapaper allows you put everything you definitely want to read later in one location and it exists as an awesome mobile app as well as a website. When browsing through G-Reader or Flipboard, I have the option of sending articles directly to Instapaper. There is also an Instapaper plugin that allows you to save any webpage you’re looking at in a browser instantly. Instapaper is typically not the space for urgent information as there is no scheduling or timing aspect of this tool. It is purely a depository.
      2. Social Networks: This is where a lot of urgent information goes. Further, if the information is something that could be urgent, useful, interesting or inspiring to friends, social networks are great. Here are two awesome ways to deal with social information:
        1. Storify: Storify is a great way to curate and share themed information. With Storify, you can present information you collect from social networks or websites into a visually accessible “story” that you can then publish. I like this platform as it’s considerably more digestible than a mere list of links in addition to the editorial license of curating content into your own themes. Here is an example of a Storify I curate here.
        2. Paper.li: Paper.li is a great way to regularly collect and curate information from sources you designate. Paper.li is different from Storify in that it automatically collects information from designated sources and self-publishes new versions of your “paper” at intervals you set. Further, you can setup your Paper.li to sort the content into topical sections, each of which appears in your single paper. This is different from Storify, which is more of a single “section.” Here is an example of a weekly Paper.li I curate here.
      3. Evernote: Some articles are so important that I want to keep forever. Here, articles are sent to Evernote. Keep in mind that with the free version of Evernote, notebooks are not shareable so the information is only for you.

As you can surmise, this process does take time. However, utilizing these tools dramatically reduces said time and effort involved. Also, practice makes perfect. #ExtraSelfAwareness.

Do you have a great tool you use? Perhaps you have a consideration of your own. How do you absorb information? Let me know, comment below.