A lot of what I do is to find ways of taking huge amounts of information and distilling it down so that top management can understand it and act on it. I also need to employ this same process in my own life to take the vast firehose of new info appearing on the web every second and digest it down to something I can understand and use.Did you know that every second 20 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube?The very tools that make all of this information available to us can also make it understandable. You just have to know how to apply the right filters. And the right display modes. The screenshots here are my personal favorites. They help me make sense of what is happening in the world at any given minute. AND they do it in such a way that I have choices: I can skim the surface or I can dig in deeper. Eugene recently started a topic in the forums titled “How do You Educate Yourself?” that got me thinking about this subject. I thought I would share with you some of the tools I use to make it all work for me.The shot above is from the website Newsmap. It uses the info from Google News and displays it in a form called a treemap. The size of each block indicates the number of articles written about that topic and the color indicates the topic (sports, technology, etc.). It can be filtered by region, topic or time.
Tweetdeck is something that is almost always open on one of my monitors. It presents information in several columns. The leftmost is my Twitter account. It shows every tweet from all the people I follow and is updated once a minute. The second column shows all the hot topics on Twitter and those which are trending up or down. It gives me an instantaneous sense of what people are currently discussing. It too updates about once a minute. The other columns show Replies to me, my Direct messages, and a customized search for any mentions of certain keywords.
Another website I use is PopURLS. It aggregates the top stories from many popular sites (Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Wired, etc.) and presents them in an easy to see, visually appealing manner. It is fully customizable to suit your own tastes.
Fedscoop is just like PopURLs but is focused solely on news having to do with the US government. Since virtually all of my clients are US government agencies this site instantly lets me know what is going on with them.These are just a few of the tools I use to digest the data on the web and turn it into something I can actually learn from and use. If you have tools of your own please let me know in the comments. I can always use another good one!