Taking control of information overload

Something I have been struggling with for about 18 months is information overload, who hasn’t, especially with regard to email and RSS feeds and to a lesser extend podcasts.

To date my method of coping has been to unsubscribe (I removed about 500 blog feeds) or ignore the stream of information (which I do with email subscriptions), this works to a point. I still keep up with the big stories, using the assumption that the limited number of blogs I do follow will point me to the really important stuff, this I must say works well. However I am missing a lot of other interesting stuff and sometimes it takes a week or two for me to catch on that something big is going on.

This morning I found a great post from Steve Rubel (via Twitter from Techmeme) on how to be an information ninja, where Steve provides a run down of how to use Google Reader to control the information overload. The post has 5 key sections:-

* The Core Philosophy: Google Reader is a database and a feed reader
* Continually add tons of feeds in organized, methodical way
* Establish a taxonomy that makes retrieval and sharing easy using on-the-fly tagging
* Annotate your data by connecting Reader to Gmail or Blogger
* Putting it all together – sorting, searching and sharing

After reading it I realised why I was unable to keep up with the information flow, I was not managing it very well. I guess a new years resolution will be to sort out this information flow.

Listing of Top 100 HR blogs

Came across a list of the Top 100 HR blogs from back in September. An interesting read and well worth checking them out if you are looking to expand your feeds.

A couple of thoughts. First it is good to see some of the older blogs (2 year +) there and a lot of new ones. Secondly there are a couple from the southern hemisphere the now closed Now Hiring Blog and the Asia Pacific Headhunter.

It is also very good to see that there are enough HR related blogs out there that there can be a Top 100, at one point there were only 100 :-).

What’s with this Twitter thing?

I know many people just don’t get Twitter, even when it is explained to them, however given the growth of the tool there must be “Something about Twitter?”

Twitter Life Cycle

(From http://cogdogblog.com/2007/04/26/splj-20/)

But what is it?

Over the last week I have seen a few blog posts once again trying to sort out what it is and a couple knocking it down again. Let us explore.

One of the better overviews of what is Twitter was done by my Twitter mate Laurel Papworth who gives us her 3 uses of Twitter which fits about 80% of how I use Twitter, they are:

1. Testimonials and Status Updates (people)
One, Twitter is good for getting a brief update on the status of the people in my social network.

2. Filter, Discoverability, Social Search (and share)
Second, Twitter is excellent at linking me to other sites. Not people but sites.

3. Conversation and Discussion
Twitter is also acting as an (almost) instant chat channel for all my friends.

The only piece I see Laurel missed was the “flash-gathering” aspect, while it could be part of point 1, I see it as important enough to have its own bullet point. What do I mean? Yesterday on the way to Sydney I twittered:

(For those not in Australia Gungagai is between Melbourne and Sydney and has a famous dog sitting on a tucker box.) Within 20 minutes I had an invite to a meetup on Sunday. This is not the first time, quiet often my social engagements are impromptu gatherings based on other people’s tweets. I have caught up with people for lunch, coffee, drinks, dinner, been invited to movie nights, games of ping pong all sorts of social interactions. (This also could be that my social life is lacking as well.)

I would also like to see point 2 expanded for specifically news, many people within my Twitter network get breaking news via Twitter. Lots of news seems to break first on Twitter before it hits the mainstream news organisations, other times people receive news on Twitter without having to visit mainstream news organisations.

Now back to 2 posts that stirred me into action.

First Simon Chen from EightBlack say he still doesn’t get Twitter and that maybe he is too old at 41. Simon shame on you for even thinking it is cause you are too old, I know 20’somethings who don’t get it, getting Twitter has nothing to do with age. As with any tool it comes down to how you use it, and how you integrate it into your life. But one downfall/detractor of Twitter to remember is without friends it is very boring and there is nothing to get. Which is why several people have proposed that we need Twitter guides to help new users getting started. This has started to happen where regular users have started to “promote” new users/friends to help them connect with others to begin their Twitter journey. Oh, yes Simon being one of your Twitter friends means I probably do need to get a life :-).

Second up is James Farmer, who also doesn’t get Twitter which is cool. I am not sure I agree or disagree with James that Twitter is not micro-blogging, we would need to first agree on what is blogging. But it is publishing if we assume that publishing is “the activity of making information available for public view“, just not everyone is interested in consuming the information that is put other there, I feel the same way about Readers Digest.

A final thought if you are in Sydney on Sunday come join me and a bunch of Twitterers for drinks from 2pm at Glenmore Hotel.

Off to Sydney

Over the next couple of weeks I will be up in Sydney to catch up with friends and family. Leaving Melbourne on Christmas Day I will be spending a few days getting to Sydney and will arrive around 27th Dec and staying until 4th Jan.

If you want to catch up drop me a line on one of the numerous ways to find me.

Meraki’s are in the house

A while back I blogged about these cool mesh network devices called Meraki’s. Well last week I finally got my act together and purchased a few, unfortunately I had to keep the value under $1000 to vale on import duty so there will be another order.

These cool little devices arrived yesterday afternoon!

So first thing I did was take pictures to make everyone jealous :-).

Next I finished work as quickly as possible and raced home to set them up. First mistake, golden rule with toys if you race then it wont work.

I unpacked a Meraki Mini (they are very cute) and plugged into the power & my router, second mistake. Router decided it did not like the new device so it crashed, yes crashed. I unplugged the mini, rebooted the router and read the manual. To be honest the manual is not very good.

Here are a list of tip and hints, also covering things I did not find in the manual or knowledge base. Well they might of been I was just too rushed to find them.

  • Yes Meraki’s have DCHP, but only within their subnet 10.x, initially I though my router was borking cause it had 2 DCHP servers, not the case.
  • Once you book the Meraki it takes about 2 – 3 minutes for it to sort itself out, during which time the SID will change from meraki-scanning, to meraki. Log onto the first and you will be disconnected very quickly.
  • You don’t need to disable the existing Wireless on your router, instead you can use the Wireless as an Uplink service to the internet.
  • Having your network within the same subnet as the Meraki’s is not a good idea, go for 192.x.
  • You need to connect to each Meraki via an Ethernet cable to ensure it gets added to your network, just adding the device via the Meraki dashboard is not enough!
  • Have patience with your network, IP can take a few minutes to reconfigure itself, don’t rush
  • Don’t, and I mean don’t forget to turn off MAC address filtering on your existing Wireless network if you want to use the Wireless uplink service. This cost me at least 45 minutes of complete confusion!
  • Try not to have to set these up on a corporate PC that does not allow you to have wired & wireless networks running at the same time, just makes things difficult!
  • Once you are up and running make sure you setup your dashboard properly & limit the bandwidth your neighbours can suck otherwise you might run out of usage allowances before the end of your billing cycle.
  • Provide a nice welcoming message on your splash screen to encourage people to use your service.
  • Finally if you are in Australia, make sure you add yourself to I Can Haz Meraki to advertise your network. (More about the service here).

So now if you are in Elwood on Ormond Rd, look for a SID of free-the-net and you might be have some free Wireless love. Next step is to work on getting some more in the area.

RIP – Marc Orchant

Earlier today I got told that Marc Orchant has passed away. Marc suffered a massive heart attack last week and never recovered.

Personally I never met Marc but but I was lucky enough to hear him speak about productivity (GTD specifically) on several occasions. He was one of my Twitter friends and to my surprise even replied to my tweets a couple of times, providing me productivity tips and hints.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

We need a red pill for the organisation

Yesterday I caved and went back to Twitter, yes I know I am weak but that is a whole other story. There was a conversation about the red vs blue pill in the Matrix, remember the red one you learn the truth while the blue one you go on living the lie. I got inspired popped the DVD in, then I had a thought.

If you remember the movie once the machines took over they used humans as their endless supply of energy, growing them in fields, then keeping the human minds under control by through the use of the Matrix.

I started thinking it is similar to how organisations operate, they have universities where graduates are conditioned into a certain way of thinking, without which organisations claim graduates are not ready to enter the workplace. From day one a new graduate just falls in line, generating the power the organisation requires. If not they labeled “unconventional” or even worse”managed out” only to then turn into an Entrepreneur and disrupt the core market of that very organisation. Management practices and hierarchies are in place to keep us and our minds under control.

For people in the know, if you have ever tried to explain it to someone you get this stare. You know they feel like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole, accepting what they see and hear cause they know they will to wake up. Just like Neo as he begins to learn about the Matrix.

We need a Red Pill to help employees understand the whole web 2.0, social networks, collaboration, transparency, Cluetrain thing! Thereby allowing their minds to be freed from the shackles of the organisation.

While a simple red pill would make it easier to open people’s minds to the new world, we would still need to help their minds accept the new world, just like Neo has trouble first accepting being out of the Matrix.

Find that missing tweet

I am currently on day 3 of a self imposed Twitter/Facebook/social network ban so I kind of feel I am disconnected from a community I have heavily been involved in for over a year. Why is a long story and I’m not sure how much longer it will go on for.

Today I found a great new tool that allows me to keep an eye on what is going on, well at least on Twitter. The tool is Tweet Scan (hat tip James

At the moment I am using it as a vanity search tool, the real benefit is being able to review the conversations about topics of interest. For example what is being said about Kevin Rudd (the new Australian Prime Minister), Australian Election, or the V8 Supercars where I was yesterday. Other ideas would be product discussions, restaurants, events, activities or monitoring disasters the list is endless!

The tool will also give PR and corporate communication folks the ability to review what is being said about their organisations in almost real time, just like traditional media watch organisations. There are some cool features such as email alerts and a “Tweet This” link that allows you to tweet about your search.

To quote James:

The information is out there, about what people are doing, saying, and using. Its ours to harvest. The title of this blog is a tongue in cheek hopefully, because the fact is tools like tweetscan make us far more powerful, extending our reach, allowing us into new conversations, making us smarter, and allowing us to test ideas in near real time. A database of conversations. A database of intentions. Its all coming together. 2008 is going to rock.