Information Strategy: My Routine, Inputs
In previous posts I showed how I filter information, and which tools I use. This posting is about the actual routine I have. I will start with the inputs, and keep the processing and output parts for later postings.
Most important input is my RSS reader.
I follow a bit over 300 RSS feeds at the moment, which are separated into different groups:
- general subscriptions on people's blogs, and a number of del.icio.us feeds of those same people, and subscriptions to a few mainstream media sources for headline news,
- a 'keeping track' section, with feeds from blogs, fora, wiki's, and bookmark collections of communities I directly participate in, so I know what is going on in those specific groups. Also a feed with most recent Flickr uploads from my contacts is in this group,
- a 'tracking tags' section, to which I add feeds for different topics (at the moment web2.0, long tail, personal knowledge management, innovation and the like) from Technorati, Flickr, and del.icio.us. This brings a general picture (also through the number of daily results) of what is happening around a specific theme,
- a 'clients' section which contains RSS feeds of clients I work with, so I know what is happening, and stay in touch with their context also when we are not directly in touch all the time.
- a 'local environment' section which contain feeds from people and sources that are interesting to me because they are in my geographic 'vicinity', and maybe not directly interesting regarding context. So I know what is being talked about locally. Feeds like the local chamber of commerce, anything tagged with the name of the region I live in, 'local' bloggers not in my usual area of interest, (possible) competitors. By local I mean the Netherlands in general, with my region Overijssel/Twente specifically, and Germany in general, with nearby Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphal specifically.
Each morning I load the RSS reader once, usually around 5:15 when I get up on most days. When I have time I look through all new items as one page in the train to work. This mostly takes about 30 to 45 minutes, but I may cut it short when I have less time. I do all my reading off-line.
During the browsing I drag parts that draw my interest into Qumana via the drop pad. (for later publishing, writing) and into my wiki (for filing or further processing) on a page called BlogsDailyRoundUp. Observations or sudden ideas that come to me through browsing end up in that wiki-page as well. Entries in the BlogsDailyRoundUp page usually have formats like:
- put in delicious [account] [url] (account being my own, my company's delicious account or that of a community I partake in)
- comment at [name]'s about [topic] [url]
- follow up reading [entry] at [url] (meaning go check out the links in that posting: I read off-line remember)
- file [quote] from [url]
- mail [name] about [topic] [url]
Basically I am building a To Do list based on what I read in my RSS reader. The things I want to blog or write about go into Qumana, where they basically form a list "Things to Possibly Write About"
If I am short for time, or don't feel like going through all of it, I *always* look at the 'keeping track' and 'clients' section. Those are most relevant to my day to day activities. If I missed anything important from other people, I count on it to show up again in my reader later through other channels. I never worry about postings that I leave unread.
In case I have some extra time but not enough to browse everything I look through the new items from a few feeds in the 'general subscriptions'. Usually spurred on by things like "I wonder what Martin Roell has been up to" or "I bet Michael Froomkin has an opinion about what happened in the US yesterday". So selection then is based on social context and spur of the moment. Much like how I would be talking to people at a party or a reception when I can only stay for a short while. Relationships are more important than the actual information being shared.
As I wrote before when I have time to look at everything in the reader, I only look at the patterns: what is being talked about and might it have relevance to me? Postings that deal with things that I already have on my radar as relevant to things I am doing now I read entirely.
All downloaded RSS items are stored on my laptop, and accessible to my desktop search tool. This allows me to search back through time for different themes or topics.
E-mail I read througout the day, and may result in tasks in which case they end up in the calendar or in the wiki. I hardly have any e-mail list services I use left. Less than 5. One for my old fraternity, one for a local community, and one or two for professional discussions. In those last two I do not actively participate any longer.
Conversations, face to face, phone, or IM, likewise result in notes for the wiki, or tasks for the calendar or the To Do list in the wiki. I routinely log IM chats, and keep them indexed in Copernic, the desk top search tool. Notes of face to face conversations often are taken on paper, and I transfer them to the wiki as soon as possible afterwards. Either directly at the end of a meeting, or on the way back home in the train, or at the first opportunity that shows itself.
Main stream media
Main stream media have become a very marginal factor in my direct information in-take. I have cancelled both subscriptions to newspapers I held, as I have cancelled all magazine subscriptions except one (a Dutch magazine about philosophy). I may glance at a newspaper I find in the train, but nothing else. I hardly watch the news on tv, only if there is a breaking story like the July 7th bombings in London. I do check the Dutch national text services a couple of times a day, but only through the web (and I hope they will provide RSS real soon). The headlines of three news services are in my RSS subscriptions. I do encounter a lot of what MSM produces however when it is referenced in other (blog) sources I follow through RSS. This is a big change for me, as I used to be a real news junkie with several papers and magazines subscribed to, always watching news editions on the tv, and looking at the discussion and in-depth programmes. Of course I still am a news junkie, but I look to other sources now. MSM has almost completely become an indirect source for me. Meanwhile I find myself often being better informed than those following MSM. I regularly come across items I have seen days earlier on the web, being presented as news in a newspaper or on tv. Documentaries and in-depth programmes I watch as archived streams on the web, not when they are aired on tv, and much more selective than before.
This is how information comes to me on a daily basis. I will discuss processing and sharing information in other postings.