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Information Overload

We are inundated with information. In fact I am right now contributing to that inundation. Can we better manage this?

One way could be to just ignore all that information and focus on only what is needed or maybe not even that :-). Maybe not all of us have that luxury and hence maybe we would like to make the info mgt. journey less painful/more enjoyable.

Some common themes seem to emerge to manage all this information: aggregation, organization and search.

We generate a lot of emails and documents on personal and professional fronts. So, outlook and/or other email clients can do the above for our emails. Document management systems (DMS) or folders can do so for documents. We can also manage emails and documents together using the email client or DMS depending upon how much of information of what kind we need to manage and what our individual needs are.

Not sure how much time we get to read, offline or online. However it could be that we regularly visit various online sources for our differing info needs at different points in time. So, it could be general news, business news, sports, health, humor or other specific interests. RSS (Really Simple Syndication – of web content) is one way of pulling content of interest in one place. This aggregation can be done online (Google Reader) or via desktop tools. Feeddemon (www.feeddemon.com) is a free desktop based RSS reader which does an excellent job of web content aggregation via RSS feeds. It organizes them in separate folders as well as allows to search the content. One can also specify keywords that are searched in the feeds and then presented in separate folders called “Watchlists”. The application synchronizes with google reader (one needs to have a gmail account for this), so, the feeds can be accessed on smartphones/mobiles. A good android app for this purpose is gReader (it accesses the google reader account and then presents the feeds on the mobile). One can define the for each folder the maximum no. of feeds that should be stored – a bottomless pit might be difficult to manage. Still, not all blogs, forums and websites might have an RSS feed for this to work. Some might only offer email subscription, for example. Outlook also acts as an RSS reader as it allows to aggregate RSS content from various sources just like an RSS reader.

What about websites you would like to monitor but which do not have an RSS feed, say, your competition? Web monitoring software such as Aignes (www.aignes.com) and Versionista (www.versionista.com) monitor websites and advise of changes made on them. The changes can be tracked on each page.I picked up information about these from a site called http://www.labnol.org. One can also download entire websites and/or sections of them for offline browsing and textword search using programs from http://www.metaproducts.com.

Social media is another producer of huge amounts of information. Do you know what you yourself (or somebody else) posted/published in across forums, the comments received, analytics of this entire set up etc.? Social media aggregation is another way to handle this and there seem to be many an offline and online tools for the same but don’t have any specific mentions at this stage.

Enough information for now!

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