Information Overflow

With the growing amount of  people sharing thoughts these days, it’s getting harder to keep up with the information that’s worthwhile your time. On all kinds of different areas bloggers arise, Twitter numbers increase, people subscribe to more and more social sites and overall you’re sent a vast number of updates & digests… resulting in information overflow.

My way of interpreting all this information consists of tools and especially people to filter it down to information I want to learn, news I’m interested in and changes I should be aware of. To put things in perspective I’ll share the way I work and the tools I use and after that look into how I’m filtering all this information.

My Interests and how I collect information about them

  • News – There are quite a few interests I’m following, these consists of websites featuring regularly content, people that blog on a daily/hourly basis,  company blogs informing about new features, Google blogs informing about there beta’s and many more… Of course I’m not surfing to all these sites to keep up with this information, but instead I make use of a RSS Aggregator (Google Reader in my case).
  • Social – Besides the news-information I’m trying to follow, there are the social sites like Friendfeed, Facebook, Hyves, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. I publish my information and keep up with that of others.
  • Mail – Then there is the mail like any Internet aware user has one or more accounts for and at work you might have an account.  I’ve set up the multiple online mail accounts to forward the mail to centralize it at Gmail. (I check my work related mail separately as this is done during work time.)

Filtering

The trick comes when I want to filter all the information, not only on a daily basis, but for sure when I’ve been away for a week or more… That’s when I really need to make the filtering count, as Google Reader states a 1000+ messages, Gmail has left the first page and files then next pages with new messages, Friendfeed and Twitter have a history log you don’t even want to start out with, etc…

The only thing I use to accomplish this task is a social solution, through time I’ve found a few people sharing that same interest on different topics. Also these people share and keep up to date through the same tools I use, which makes it really easy for me to see what they’ve shared, liked or commented on.

News & Social
Tools like friendfeed offer a “Best of Day”-feature which let’s you check out the most liked and discussed items by the people you follow. Google Reader let’s you share items with another person and vice versa, that way I check out the topics somebody else has shared and I actually discard the rest of the 1000+ messages in a “skimming through them” kinda way.

Mail
When it comes to mail » Gmail offers labels, filters and multiple Inbox views to organize your different accounts in one mail-tool. Once you’ve tidily customized your Gmail-Inbox,  I’ll be skimming through headlines  deleting uninteresting ones and reading the most important after that. I star them or attach a task to them to reply or follow up and after that I’ll archive the ones I see fit to be archived and dispose of the rest.

Discarding vs. Reading it all

This is just my way of doing it and I actually evolve into using my own methods as well, but I believe this way of working saves a lot of time and if remember one of the sites I follow states: “Do less, Get more done”.

So am I really discarding of information, messages, likes, comments and more? I trust the people that share my interest, by them being genuine and authentic… Yeah – Just do it! If they didn’t think it was interesting, it’s just noise and you’re entitled to filter it out.