ManageMe 2.0 of the information flood era

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Image by Taiger808 (Licence)

I wanted to share my thoughts on how to manage your time and presence with what the web x.0 can offer in this era of huge information flood; we are at the same time trying to read the news of the world [hopefully people still care about these], our professional news, news of our hobbies [there can be many different branches here], updates from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, new videos from services like YouTube, the list is as endless as one’s imagination and need to feed. So how to manage all this and get the best out of it in a way that you can have a life too?

If you are like me; always searching new interesting things and also sometimes finding them even without searching, you most likely are facing this same problem, the feel of spilling a glass too full.

For the start, I can say this: there’s no way to get them all. You will miss information and sometimes you will miss your friends ‘My dog is sick’ status updates but hey, who cares? The circle of web is continuous and tomorrow you have new things again. This is the first thing you have to comprehend.

Another thing is what really makes the difference to you. What’s really important and what you enjoy? You can subscribe to a hundred blogs, but is it really necessary to fill your RSS Reader too much if the things these people write aren’t that useful to you. So learn to separate what is useful information and what is just echoing. Today there was listed 208,559 bloggers only in the WordPress’ frontpage. It’s not odd if you can loose yourself in this.

But what are the tools to manage the rest of it, e.g. the social services so that you can access them more rapidly? It’s all about management. iGoogle and Netvibes are good examples for this. I used to use iGoogle but two weeks ago just happened to try out Netvibes and am now hooked – and that’s why I’m using it here as an example.

In Netvibes you can group things for example like Gmail, Twitter feed and your most interesting feeds under different tabs which you can name, let’s say as ‘News’ or ‘My Social Sites’. This already saves you some time when you don’t necessarily have to browse and access to each of your accounts one by one.

Same applies to news – this I find as one of the most relaxing things. I want to keep myself updated about things that happen in the world and in the web. I have to and need to do this if I want to be better at my work, have more perspective on things that happen in the world and have overall something to say to other people. But I don’t have the time to read every printed newspaper or even visit their sites. So what to do?

Let’s say you’re interested in economics and business. In my Netvibes I have a tab called ‘Business’ where I have a couple of feeds from business-related blogs that I have found useful. In this same tab I also have a couple of Netvibes widgets and feeds for news sites like Kauppalehti, Financial Times and Newsweek.

I used to have, okay, still have, my Google Reader filled with RSS feeds from too many sites that I can’t possibly read because it would take too much time. This kind of management helps me to glance today’s interesting topics [e.g. news] more easily and maybe catch up some cool and interesting thoughts from bloggers, all this in the same page. And grouping things like this help you concentrate on the same topics more efficiently.

This same way-of-effectiveness applies to microblogging. Although I have to say that most of the time I use Twitter through Tweetdeck, but at the same time I have a tab in Netvibes where I have my Twitter feed, a couple of Twitter search widgets with different search terms and a Tweetmeme widget. This way I believe I maximize the power of using Twitter.

There is of course a lot more that you can do with services like these, and I don’t want to list here everything that I have in my Netvibes. The message of this post was more like ‘There is hope to tame the flood to your advantage AND have a life too’.

Hopefully this post is going to be helpful to people and if you have your own way of interesting web management that you want to share, please do. I’m always eager to hear other experiences.

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Business card: Name, Address, Email, Website, [Blog?]

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I bet that nowadays in many corporations you can find someone who is blogging in their free time about stuff they are interested in. I was just thinking, do companies use this as their benefit? Is it even possible or wise? There could be many ways to benefit from a blog, but of course also risks. One potential situation could be something like this.

Our guy Mike is working as a car repair parts salesman and he is a total car enthusiast in his free time, building up beautiful hot rods. He also likes to share his love for this hobby to the rest of the world in the web by writing a blog.

Various people who are customers where he works, the ‘Jeff’s Car and Parts’ [yeah I know, what an inventive name], find his personal blog and become its readers.

I tried to think a couple of effects this could have on both of the parties, the company and Mike. Here’s some I came up with:

  • People feel that ‘Jeff’s Car and Parts’ has a guy working in the company who knows his business and really loves the thing he’s doing.
  • People love to do business with familiar people. This feeling of Mike being a real human being and an ordinary guy we all know, could make the company a bit more personal and sympathetic, and could even lower the threshold to come to the store and ask information about cars and parts. –This is an important point in which I believe the web 2.0 or the social web can be totally priceless: it has a potential to show a company in its true form – a community run by people like you and me.
  • People begin to feel this is a stunt and the company feels phony to them. They try to find some hidden agenda buried in the blog’s writings, and because people have a tendency to find what they are looking for, they eventually most likely do. Even when there wasn’t one. –Personally I hope these kinds of corporate hoaxes are history, because eventually you will get caught.
  • Other companies see Mike as a real jewel and they try to recruit him.

Of course there are other potential risks in making people know about the blog. For example, if the company and Mike were having hard time with each other, Mike could go write that Jeff’s Car and Parts stinks, is a bad employer and keeps the prices too high although the parts are imported from Bangladesh.

Be this true or not, this could have a bad effect on the company’s image. But it might be a problem to Mike too. The company’s brand may suffer, but so can Mike’s. Why? Well, do people want to hire a person who may tarnish your corporate image by throwing dirt?

In this kind of situation Mike has a responsibility and one should think his actions carefully. It is a question of a personal netiquette and what is worthwhile. These things could backfire so that in the future potentially less people are willing to hire you.

I believe when your actions in the Internet may stay there forever, you begin to think what you put in there – if not, you should begin right now.

Should you ever mix your personal and work life like in this example, I’m not sure, but this was just a play of a situation where the company and Mike were both willing to try out something like this.

Examples and comments, anyone?