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Managing Information Streams Pt 6 – information flow and task management software.

March 23rd, 2008 · 2 Comments

I’ve spent a lot of time considering how to filter information, get good information, and cut back on pointless information, but haven’t thus far said (or thought) all that much about what we do with it once we get it.

And that is clearly key. Information requires processing as well as ‘managing’ – it might require an action, it might require dissemination, responding to or it might change the way we’re already doing something. So finding a way of processing it is vital.

I’ve already commented that To-Do Lists are the bain of my life, and I’m constantly on a quest for better ways of processing the information that comes in via whatever stream, be it email or twitter, conversation or SMS, spontaneous idea or blog post.

What I want to be able to do with information can summed up in a four step process – record, process, disseminate, respond.

  • I want to record the idea, if it’s not recorded already, or just extract the bit of a larger document that I need to remember.
  • I then want to process it somehow – file it under a category, assign it to a task list, put a date on it…
  • It’s highly likely that I want to let other people know about it too – either people with whom it’s a shared task, or if it’s just general helpful information, to share it with anyone else who wants it.
  • And finally, I want to perform whatever action I need to in response to it – the task I assigned to it in the ‘process’ stage.

This is heavily influenced by the David Allen’s GTD system system, but in a second hand way. I’ve only just read what his system is – Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do – even though I’ve been using software designed to help you do this for a while. I’ve combined his ‘process’ and ‘organise’ into process, and added disseminate, as I see that as a distinct and different action from the responses that require me to do anything else… but that’s just me. :o)

His system is tried and tested, so you may want to read more about it.

Anyway, the key to all of this is finding a way of doing those steps that dovetails with how we live. I did a straw poll on twitter a while back, asking twittists what they use for their ‘to do lists’ – the most popular was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a paper notebook. I’ve tried various things, from the to-do list parts of mail.app, to-do lists on iGoogle, paper, mobile phone, iCal and a GTD app called Thinking Rock. Thinking Rock seemed promising, but just took way too much setting up for my liking.

So I started to use Twitter – just as a simple way of posting a daily to-do list publically, and getting feedback from people. That seems to work really well.

But clearly, it doesn’t help me process more complex tasks or arrange projects. That’s where Things comes in. It’s a task management app, using GTD ideas, but seems pretty simple to set up, easy to follow, and so far I’m finding it pretty useful when I remember to check it – I’m looking into ways of getting the alerts from it to interrupt my usual daily faffing to remind me what I really ought to be doing. If I can get it to do that, it’ll be a life saver.

So Things is how I do the recording and processing part of my ‘to do list’ and inspiration-type information management. The bits that are more article/blog/news-based, I manage using three web services – Google Reader, del.icio.us and Twitter.

Google Reader I use to ‘star’ things for myself to read later and to ‘share’ items with anyone who reads my shared items (or looks at the front page on my blog at the list on there. I might also cut phrases from that and drop them into Things for later processing.

Twitter I use to post links if I want some instant discussion about a topic, or just to flag it up for people who follow me on there, in case they’re interested. It’s a way of throwing it out there and not having to work too hard to monitor the response.

and Del.icio.us I use if I want to save a link with a comment, add it to the links page on my website, or tag it for someone specific that I want to send the page to, if they’re on my friends list.

So with that lot, I manage to perform my four tasks – record, process, disseminate, respond. Feel free to give this some thought, and to check out GTD a little deeper. It’s clear that David Allen’s GTD system is a hell of a lot more clearly and deeply thought out than mine. I just have the kind of brain that likes to personalise systems and processes before implementing them. So this is my version. :o)

Tags: Geek · Gig stuff · Managing Information Streams · tips for musicians

Managing Information Streams 5 – RSS For beginners (long overdue post)

March 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Managing Information Streams 5 – RSS For beginners (long overdue post)

Right then, I’ve mentioned RSS quite a few times in the course of my Managing Information Streams series, and its led to quite a few emails and tweets asking what the hell it is and how it works.

So here’s a really basic version of how to get started with it – RSS stands for either ‘Rich Site Summary’ or ‘Really Simple Syndication’ – doesn’t really matter.

I’m not going to address how it works – go here or here for that.

What it does for us is that it brings together all the news and blogs that we like to read as though someone very friendly was emailing or IMing us to tell us that they’ve been updated. So if you, for example read this blog and Future Music Talk, then RSS allows us to get a notification, and often to read it without going to that site.

When you build up a portfolio of ‘feeds’ that you want to read, it becomes like an electronic newspaper.

There are loads of ways of reading RSS, but I’m going to focus on one, cos that makes life easy – Google Reader.

if you already have a gmail account or you use the iGoogle homepage, you can add google reader really easily, as it’s already there in your google portfolio. just go to the Google Reader homepage, log in to your account, and there’s even a tuitional video to help you.

Here’s the first thing to do with it – once you’re logged in, and you’ve got the ‘welcome to google reader’ page up, click on the word ‘settings’, then click on the ‘goodies’ tab. At the bottom of that page, is a section headed ‘Subscribe as you surf’ – and there you’ll see the word ‘subscribe’. grab it and drag it to the tool bar at the top of your browser. This will allow you to click on any blog or news page that has an RSS feed and add it to google reader in one click.

Once you’ve done it, come back here and try it with this page. Just click on the toolbar link that says ‘subscribe….’, and you’ll get the google reader page that says at the top ‘you are not subscribed to this feed yet’. So click subscribe, and it’ll be there. then do the same on any other blogs you read.

Have a look at the blog links on this page for some more suggestions. If you want some news bbc news feeds are fab, and you can try the Guardian, New York Times and The independent.

Here are a couple of tips.

Set up tags/folders in google reader to keep things in chunks – have one labeled ‘news’ for all the sites with loads of updates – that way, you can click on the ‘news’ tag, and then click ‘mark all as read’ to get rid of them on a day when you haven’t got time to read them.

The natural colour of RSS is orange (see the square logo at the top of this page) – wherever you see that, it means there’s RSS around. On most decent browsers (PLEASE tell me you’re not still using Internet Explorer – it’s worse than shit) a little orange RSS icon shows up in the address bar when there’s a feed on the page. Then you can just click your ‘subscribe…’ link, add it, and you’re away.

Think about having the iGoogle page as your homepage – that way you can have your google reader feeds there along with email, twitter, weather, etc. etc.

Use the tips, hints and advice that the Google Reader offers you as you go along. Google are very good at plain english. Make the most of it.

That’ll get you started. We’ll do some more advanced RSS stuffs in a while…

Tags: Geek · Gig stuff · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Managing Information Streams 4 – General twitter tips.

March 12th, 2008 · Comments Off on Managing Information Streams 4 – General twitter tips.

Here’s a load of more general twitter tips, based on my observation of what goes on on there, and in no small part based on the things I’ve got wrong, and the twittering faux-pas I still make, but designed to help us use Twitter as part of a well-managed information filter… (I’ll blog about something other than twitter later, just wanted to tidy this one up for now.)

#1 keep if fluid – it seems the best way to work with Twitter is not to see subbing to or unsubbing from a particular feed as a big deal. It’s not like adding someone as a friend on Facebook where it’s likely to lead to a flurry of interaction. They’ll get a notice that you’re following them, but they won’t that you’ve unfollowed, and no-one seems to get hung up on that anyway. Especially not if they post a lot. I post very regularly, and there are bound to be people who find it clutters their twitter stream to the point where it’s not desirable to have there. So they unsub, no biggie. I’m not offended, they aren’t overwhelmed and my twitter page is still there if they want to check out what I’m up to at any point…

#2 beware of too much IM style usage – this is only an issue if you WANT people to follow you – if you’re just using it to interact with people you know, this isn’t a problem at all. But if you’re trying to build a core group of followers, the feeling that you’re listening to one side of a conversation in moon language is really off-putting (I have been guilty of this, for sure!) – here are a couple of tips to get round that – firstly, use the ‘@’ reply protocol, so that at least there’s a link to the person whose post you’re replying to. (on the twitter.com page, it links to the nearest-in-date post in the person’s twitter-stream that you’re replying to) Secondly, if you’re replying to a post with a link in it, re-tweet the link to give context. thirdly, break up the flow of interaction with some stand-alone inspiration or information – make a point of having at least every 3 or 4th tweet be a non-reply – a question, a cool link, a thought about something, a gig date, a suggestion, a status update…

#3 don’t use text speak but do edit. SMS-style abbreviations are a) not understood by everybody, and b) annoy a lot of people. So instead, just think about how you can reword your tweet to fit into the 140 characters and still say what needs to be said in english (or your tweet language of choice!)

#4 don’t get stuck sounding like a series of adverts – if yours is an info-only twitter feed, then go with information, not hyperbole. This is just an observation, but it really doesn’t seem to work. Twittists seem to be up for info-feeds, or opinion feeds, but I’ve not seen much traffic around ones that sound like mini-commercials. So either post stuff with an opinion that’s personalised, or just provide the info…

#5 go with a regular syntax structure – again, most important for news/info style feeds. Are you putting the date first, or the link ,or a category (either in square brackets, or using hashtags.) It’ll make it easier to spot your posts in a stream, and also to extract the right info from it (see my To The Left Of The Mainstream music recommendation account for an example).

#6 work out what time of day you want to post a particular bit of info. Lots of people don’t go back and read tweets they missed – so if you’re writing something for Americans but you’re in the UK, don’t post it before about 2pm, or most of them will miss it. And vice versa. Know your timezones!

#7 don’t finish a twit-sesh on a weird post. Especially if you use the twitter-widgets, you don’t really want to leave a bizarre or insulting tweet up there for two long… follow it up with a ‘goodnight all’ tweet to tidy things up. Assume that anything and anyone you tweet about will be read by the person you’d least like to have reading it. Then you’re safe.

#8 have fun! web interaction at its best is about relearning how to ‘play’ – it’s a big game, and the more you interact with it as an adventure, as fun, as something to be discovered rather than something to be conquered, the more the time you spend on it will be open to the possibility of creative reimagining. It may be that twitter is just for posting gig dates and album news for you. That’s fine. It may be that you just answer Twitter’s expressed question – ‘What are you doing?’ a couple of times a day. That too is obviously fine. However, it may be that you discover a way of using it that no-one else has thought of. Hurrah. Seeing it as play leaves you open to the possibility of these and more. (I’ll write more soon about the play thing.)

For those of you doing music, Twitter is a great sand-box in which to experiment with your online persona. It gives you space to step out of the 3rd-person big-record-label-clone website that you’ve had since the late 90s when we all thought that was the way to go. It’s a way to add a little box of personal stuff to your site and let people know you’re human. Chances are it’ll get more interest than the flash-driven corporate looking static website, and will be a stepping stone into turning your website into a blog-style interactive space, or at least doing what I’ve done, which is have the blog updates as the main content on your site front page.

Get out there, get interactive, and use twitter to save on time and energy in that engagement. Enjoy!

Tags: Geek · Gig stuff · Managing Information Streams · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Managing Information Streams Pt 3 – Twitter for Musicians

March 12th, 2008 · Comments Off on Managing Information Streams Pt 3 – Twitter for Musicians

OK, let’s get practical about the use of Twitter for musicians.

Here’s a list of possible uses, that I’ll then break down (in no particular order of significance)

  • spreading rumours
  • publishing gig dates
  • inviting discussion
  • interaction with fans
  • promoting friends
  • developing a brand
  • personalising your website
  • keeping your site updated
  • proliferating info to a lot of sites
  • integrating with other social networks
  • keeping up with the interests of your audience
  • cutting down the time needed to interact via everything else…
  • tracking the buzz about you

Let’s break those down –

Spreading Rumours – we all have bits of near-confirmed info that we’d love to tell people about, but don’t want to post as news cos we’ll look like muppets if we get it wrong… Twitter overrides that by allowing us to be a bit more vague, but to generate a buzz… post about tour plans, collaboration invites, press stuff. Create a sense of expectation for what you’re up to, and let people know you’re still working even between ‘big’ news.

Publishing Gig Dates – just a really easy way to get gig news out there fast. Yes, it still needs to go on myspace, reverb nation, your own site, and all the other gig lists, but twitter is fastest!

Inviting Discussion – ‘hey, what do you think about [xyz]?’ – do it on your forum, and you may get pages of nonsense posts from people who have an axe to grind (caveat, not on my forum – I have possibly the most lovely bunch of forum posters anyone could want. It’s not prolific, but the quality is right up there!) – post it on twitter, get funny, clever responses from people who want to engage with you. reply and make them feel special. time spent? 2 mins for a 10 reply convo..

Interaction With Fans – a safe interface for your audience to contact you. It doesn’t take much time, it’s public, and it’s managable… if people get nasty you can block them, and the public record isn’t easily linked to, so trolls are less likely to spam you for the web-kudos.

Promoting Friends – this comes back to being the kind of musician friend you want to have – post links, cross post news, re-tweet information. Help eachother out!

Developing A Brand – this can be by being funny, insightful, posting about your other interest whatever that may be, posting in a unique way (the syntax of a particular twitterer can act like a digital signature) or just by updating regularly about what you’re doing… Tweet about your practice regime or recording ideas. Share tips and get known as helpful and supportive…

Personalising Your Website – got a corporate looking 3rd person website? Well, that’s probably a bad idea, but overlooking that for now, a twitter widget embedded will allow you to add personal regularly updated info to your site. It’s contained within the widget, but it lets people know what you’re doing. (see my myspace page for an example of an embedded widget – go here for more widget options)

Keeping Your Site Updated – again, if your site is really slick looking and updating it is tricky or costly, having a twitter feed can be a great way to mean that people coming back always have something new to see.

Proliferating Info To A Lot Of SitesTwitter widgets can be put on myspace, reverbnation, your blog, your band page, your personal page.. one tweet goes to loads of pages.

Integrating With Other Social Networks – following on from the last one, It can even update your facebook status, and will probably be able to do the same for Myspace before long. You can also feed info back into it from last.fm and a few other sites…

Keeping Up With The Interests Of Your Audience – if like me, you find your audience fascinating, it’s a great way to keep up with what they’re up to. I love reading tweets from people I know, and people I don’t…

Cutting Down The Time Needed To Interact Via Everything Else – twitter is quick and easy, it’s low maintenance, high yield in terms of interaction. Use it to cut down the volume of pointless email, or forums you visit and people you google. Do as much of it via twitter as you can, and you’ll free up time and headspace for everything else.

Tracking The Buzz About You – twitter lets you ‘track’ keywords via SMS – you send an SMS to twitter that says ‘track solobasssteve’ or whatever, and it texts you every time you get mentioned. Great way to find out what’s happening outside of the people following you…

Get on it, start doing it, choose your level of interaction (from news only to deeply personal – it’s totally definable by YOU) – there’s no compulsion to blog your breakfast choice or marital strife, so don’t feel that you can’t use it because you want to keep that side private. Tweet the music, tweet the tour dates, tweet the rumours and news…

what are you waiting for? – don’t forget to follow me there too.

Tags: cool links · Geek · Gig stuff · Managing Information Streams · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Managing Information Streams Pt 2 – Twitter!

March 10th, 2008 · 15 Comments

Thanks so much for all the comments and feedback about the first Managing Information Streams post. Some GREAT stuff in the comments there.

I want to follow that up with what is fast becoming my favourite web-filter, and will hopefully become my primary interface with my network – Twitter.

The tech media has been full of articles about Twitter for the last couple of months, ranging from declaring it to be the saviour of the web to it being the scourge if humanity. Both are exaggerations, and as usual, ignore the range of ways to interact with a particular technology.

So first up, a ‘what is twitter?’ answer, StevieStyle – Twitter is a combination of microblog, status-update, public IM, SMS client, link-blog, mini-email, brain-storm-tool, twitterpedia and for me (I’ve not seen anyone else doing this yet, but I’m sure I’m not the first) a responsive public to-do list.

All of that in an IM-window style interface, portable to my cellphone, followable on the web and scannable at a glance.

So what’s great about it? Let’s undo everything I said it was at first –

Firstly, it’s not email – I’m getting increasingly sick of email, particularly email that isn’t addressed to me. It’s just not a quick enough or malleable enough way to get information, to difficult to filter for quality and the group stuff just makes it harder to deal with the stuff that is to me. So I’ve been unsubbing from groups and mailing lists like crazy, trying to reduce the volume of non-direct email. A lot of the things I might have used email or email lists for, I now do on Twitter. How does that help? Well, I know the answer is going to be either a) very short or b) very short with a link to a properly written explanation. If you have to post the longer answer on a public blog, you’re more likely to think about it, than if you just write bollocks to a mailing list.

Secondly It’s not IM – IM sucks my time. IM is a very demanding thing to have running. It can be very useful and a great way to get quick responses, and also to deal with more personal things, but for the most part the big problem with IM is that you sit WAITING FOR A REPLY, and the other person is doing the same. So you don’t get on with your stuff, you ‘do IM’ for whole chunks of time. I NEVER do that with Twitter. Even if I post 5 or 6 posts in a couple of minutes, in between I’m working, I’m blogging, I’m searching, I’m answering the good emails, I’m deleting the crap ones, I’m cooking, brushing my teeth, on the bus… whatever, it’s all going on, and Twitter can fit to that. I never get tweets that say ‘are you still there? hello? where’ve you gone, you bastard??’ like on IM.

It also means that there’s a public record of a process if you’re planning something. This is what happened when Jeff Schmidt and I planned our podcast. I think Jeff sent me one direct message on twitter about it, and the rest was public. Perhaps as a result, the podcast had the highest first day or two’s downloads of ANYTHING Jeff has podcasted. And he’s done some great podcasts (search in iTunes for his name, for more – really good stuff.)

Thirdly it’s not facebook – if I go into facebook and check people’s status updates, there are a million other distractions – photos, scrabblez, groups, event invites, etc. I set up Facebook as a separate app using FluidApp just so I can open it, do it, and go. Twitter is the status update with the option to reply, and without the distractions. That’s a good thing. Facebook can be so addictive.

Fourthly it’s not this blog – blogging here takes a lot of time and effort. It’s also very much an interactive archive of my public writing. Twitter is immediate, and then gone. Sure you can find or favourite tweets, but it’s largely about NOW. I try to keep my blog archive manageable by not posting quick ‘check this out’ blogs – that’s what twitter does REALLY well. I can also, crucially, start rumours on there about what I’m up to, talk about things that might happen but might not, in a way that would come back and bite me on the arse if I did it on here…

Fifthly it’s not Google – if I use twitter for a question, I’m not searching the internet for prewritten answers, I’m asking the minds of my fellow twittists. I’m asking people who know me, or at least know about me, and I can follow up. And all of it in 140 characters. I’m not demanding much from peoples, but I can get top quality info. And it’s filtered by who I CHOOSE to interact with. No spammers, no trolls… The traffic isn’t public enough to attract disgruntled losers shouting at windmills.

Sixthly, it’s not a to-do list – to-do lists are currently the bane of my life. I never know where to write things down to remember them. Twitter means that my to-dos can become discussion, friends can remind me, hassle me, and I feel a compulsion to update, and therefor a drive to get something done so as not to embarrass myself by saying ‘did fuck-all today’… So I post a list, I post options and court responses, and on some things, I can collaborate. I can even ask my flatmate to pick up milk or washing-up liquid on the way home. Last night, my landlord used twitter to find out if anyone was home in order to access a document in the flat – THAT is the magique of the Twittosphere!

Seventhly, and this is a small but significant one it’s not regular SMS – how? a) it’s free to send, and b) I can type it, not key it in on my phone. HURRAH!!!! That should be enough to get everyone in the world signed up…

So what’s unique about it, that isn’t so negatively defined? OK, there’s the asynchronous nature of ‘following’ – if someone clicks to follow me, I can choose to follow them or not. I can also follow people who don’t follow me. I can follow people for the conversation, or the inspiration, I can post in the same way – conversation or open ended thoughts. And people can choose to read or ignore. No-one is wasting time they don’t want to waste just to see if the info is good or not. Glance, engage, revert. It’s easy.

Two, it provides interactive news. On the scene ‘buzz’ about events. Right now, SXSW is going on in Austin. Last week was TED – the precis of ideas on twitter is a GREAT way to find out what’s hot and what’s not, what are the salient parts of an hour-long talk, what’s going to be rocking the tech-world in a few months time. Choose a different set of people to follow and you’ll get the same from glastonbury or the protest movement, or parliament, or probably even the countryside alliance *shudder*… you choose, you filter, you edit, you follow/unfollow, and form a group of twittettes who entertain and inform, interact and educate.

Thus far the signal to noise ratio on my group of feeds is extremely positive, and the stuff that’s come out of it is amazing. Lately, that’s been all about Seesmic, the video-blog site. But that deserves a post of it’s own, because it’s f’ing amazing.

So maybe now you can see why I’m hoping to make my twitter account my main web interaction. Sign up for twitter at twitter.com, add me, and if you’re a bass-head, add Jeff, Trip and search around for some others. Consider this my TwitterFesto :o) .

I’ll post some more stuff about it soon, but suffice to say, if you want to get in touch with me quick, twitter beats anything besides just calling me up on the phone (we need to get back into phones – our modernist technolust has relegated phones to a last resort. that’s got to change…) Email is great for longer more involved information, IM is good if your life is falling apart and you want my help or support, Facebook is good if you’ve got silly photos from your stag night, and Google is good if you want a URL to send to someone. Otherwise, TwitMe!

(addendum – I’ve tagged this as ‘future of music’, because twitter is something that bands and artists HAVE to get a handle on. It’s where so much web communication is heading. So read this, and I’ll post more about music specific application in the very near future)

(addendum #2 – massive credit must be given to Hugh MacLeod for his thinking on twitter, much of this was informed by his twitterings and bloggings. Follow him at twitter.com/gapingvoid)

Tags: cool links · Geek · Managing Information Streams · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians · website recommendations

Managing information streams (Pt 1)

March 7th, 2008 · 7 Comments

This will (I think) be the first in a series of posts about this, mainly because it’s an ongoing struggle and area of conceptual development.

So, I’ll start by saying where my problem lies – a lot of the stuff online about being overwhelmed by email starts by talking about spam. Apart from when I’ve had my domain-name spoofed by spammers and suddenly had 3000 ‘user not known’ replies, spam has never been a big problem for me. If you’ve got your email on a dedicated server, then there are various very effective and ‘teachable’ spam filters out there. the Gmail one seems pretty damned good too. (if you’re still using Hotmail as your primary email interface, you’re probably sorting through spam now and not reading this…)

So, what is my problem with email? it’s largely two fold – one, it’s filtering the mass of information I get on a subject so that I get only the best information, and two, it’s how to process info as it comes in.

I’m on a few different email discussion lists, which are seeming increasingly anachronistic as a way of doing group interaction. With the web forums I read, I tend to browse via keywords in the search box on the really busy ones, and glance at the recent posts every few days on the less busy ones. That doesn’t take long, and means I can track where the things I’m interested in are being mentioned. I also have google alerts, and technorati alerts for certain words cropping up in other places. But the email ones still take time to filter.

I get a fair bit of info that relates to gigs and teaching that tends to get lost as I put it to one side while I consider what to do with it, or juggle my diary so I can fit it all in… then someone emails me and says ‘are we still on for tomorrow’s lesson?’ and I panic as I try to make it all fit… so I need a new system there, for sure. the Search box in Macmail helps a lot, as I can just do a search for ‘lessons’ or ‘tuition’ to find all the bass lesson related stuff… Maybe I should try the ‘smart mailbox’ thing.

My other big problem with email is that replying quickly creates an expectation that this is your norm, so people use email for things that are urgent. I REALLY need to get away from that… Tim Ferris has written some really useful stuff on this topic here

Anyway, I’ve not got very far with managing my information, have I (though I did just go and unsub from a couple of lists I receive but never read, so that’s good…) – as my friend Karen would say ‘Land the plane, Steve!!’

It’s about filtering. I’ve written about this WRT music recently, but it applies equally to information – the problem isn’t a lack of it, it’s a lack of quality control. If I want to keep track of what’s happening in the bass-world, I could spend all day every day reading stuff on forums, blogs, email lists, digests…. And even for an info-geek like me, less than 3 or 4% of it is useful or even particularly interesting. So I need to be able to target my info. Here are a couple of suggestions for how WE can do it.

#1 – collaborate – if you want filters, be a filter. Google shared items is such an amazing way to get someone else to filter for you. I’ve read SO many great stories that I’d have missed thanks to following Jeff Schmidt and Jyoti Mishra‘s shared items. Some of the blogs I them subscribe to, often I just leave it to them to filter them for me.

Same goes for futuremusictalk.com – a GENIUS filter for stuff about the future of the industry. Not all the info, just most of the best info. And it gets better every time sarda tweaks it. He’s a genius, and lovely, and very busy, not surprisingly.

So using ready-made filters (here are my shared items for those of you who want them) – let others do the legwork.

If you have a very specific search criteria, use Google Blogsearch – put the searc term in, then grab the feed. Google rules. Technorati provide a similar service, but it’s hopelessly flakey…

So, get google reader, and start sharing – let me know when you do, and I’ll watch what you’re linking to… and then…

#2 – be ruthless. If you subscribe to a feed that you find yourself continually paging down past, delete it. Don’t clutter your reader. get rid of it, and let the google blog or news search watch it for you for keywords. (note to self, must see if google blogsearch can handle boolean commands). Don’t put up with duplicate feeds – if you subscribe to a feed that is fed straight into futuremusictalk.com, delete the feed (with some blogs, including mine, only certain posts are cross-posted. With others more specific blogs, everything is aggregated there). I did this recently with news feeds – the beeb cross post a lot of articles to world and UK news, so I deleted one of them. Same with the guardian. strip it back, get the info you need, don’t sweat about missing some stuff – if it’s that good, someone else will share it anyway (thanks Jyoti for the political filter stuff – you rule!)

#3 – set limits. This is the bit I’m worst at, and the bit that from next week is going to get experimental. Have set times for this stuff, then click ‘all read’ – use the starring thing in google reader (do you get the idea that I think Google Reader ROCKS??) to come back to things at a later date, or share it then go read your own feed… But stick to them. I’m definitely writing this for myself now, I’m terrible at this. One thing I’ve started to do is not have feeds loading in the background. Using FluidApp.com I’ve turned Google Reader into it’s own application. I read, then close it, so its not giving me alerts all the time. I read it like a newspaper in the morning or evening. I also set my email to only check once every 30 mins, so I do it in batches. Soon, I’m hoping to switch to twice a day email too… we’ll see if that works.

And here’s the clincher, and the link to the next post (later) – I’m using twitter to do a lot of my filtering. Twitter deserves its own post, but so far my online presence has gone through the roof as a result of using it (even with a fairly modest number of followers) but I actually spend LESS time on that than I used to on forums, IM and email… next post will explain how and why.

I hope that lot helps – PLEASE post suggestions – I’m still working this one out. Blog about it, and post a link in the comments, ask questions if I’m using geek terms you don’t get. This shit is important because it threatens to swamp our time to be human, creative and alive. Help me out here…

Tags: cool links · Geek · Managing Information Streams · New Music Strategies · Random Catchup · tips for musicians · website recommendations