Getting Started, listening, search engine optimization

How Do you Gather and Process Information Online?

7 Comments 25 July 2009

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How do you gather and process all the online information that you need to know? Amy Sample Ward opened up her blog reader to the public with her guest post “Want a Peek at My RSS: Here It Is!” on Beth Kanter’s Blog. That post pointed me to some wonderful blogs, but left me wondering about how everyone gathers information online apart from reading blogs.

Today, I’m sharing my information gathering and processing system with you. What I’m hoping is that at the end of this, you’ll write your own post about this topic to spread insights.

I acquire most (3/4) of my information from blogs I subscribe to, and articles that are tweeted. Social media communities (Linkedin discussion groups, Facebook friends or business Pages, and the nonprofit news site Idealist News), online media (New York Times and its blogs), and industry reports give me everything else. I do crowdsource occasionally to supplement.

I spend a not-insignificant amount of time reading news on blogs and twitter. I spend at least an hour a day reading blogs. Currently, I subscribe to 44 blogs. I read them using Google Reader. After looking at Amy Sample Ward’s Netvibes reader, I’ll be switching to Netvibes.   I divide the blogs into “must reads” (Jeremy Owyang, Beth Kanter, Mashable, Inside Facebook, Network for Good, NTEN), others that add value, and the ones that are outside of my immediate world but offer interesting perspectives (Online Journalism Blog, Museum 2.0, eJewishPhilanthropy, NYT’s Gadgetwise blog).

Twitter drives a lot of my reading. Twitter is, in fact, my supplementary RSS feed. I spend at least an hour a day on Twitter, and jump on and off throughout the day as I have time. I use TweetDeck to organize and read tweets easily.  I have divided my TweetDeck Twitter client into columns that make sense of who I’m following (nonprofit organizations, nonprofit professionals, new media, Israelis, friends/family, and a changing current search column).

I join Linkedin Discussion Groups based not only on who I want to meet, but what I want to learn. I belong to Social Media Mafia, Nonprofit Professionals Forum, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Web 2.0 for Nonprofit Organizations, Nonprofit Technology Network, and a few others. I ” fan” certain Facebook pages primarily for information gathering. I am a fan of Hubspot, Web Analytics an Hour A Day, Customers That Click, PitchEngine, Tech Soup, and Facebook Marketing Solutions, among others.

Finally, I utilize crowdsourcing on Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, and Linkedin if I want information about a specific topic. I don’t always get everything that I need by crowdsourcing, but it gives me a good start and direction.

I can’t possibly remember everything that I want to remember, and consider the social bookmarking site Delicious to be my personal recording secretary. I bookmark and tag whatever I think I’ll want to remember. I also utilize Friendfeed in much the same way – it’s a record of my social media activities (status updates, links, tweets, etc) – and it is searchable. Ideally, I’ve tagged important articles. But if I forget, and I tweeted about it, then I can search my Friendfeed by keyword.

I’m sure there are great ways to gather and process information, which I haven’t yet considered. I’d love to learn from you. I hope that this post will inspire a series of posts about this topic. I am very curious how other people gather and process information in today’s online, ever-social world. It’s a jungle out there, and we have to manage it somehow. But maybe we don’t have to do it alone.

How do you gather and process the online information you need?

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  • Debra:

    I love how you’ve shared your process. It’s reminding me about the importance of a routine – like exercise.

    I’ve been less structured lately – mostly because I’m getting a lot of information these days from Twitter.

    [Reply]

  • Debra:

    I love how you’ve shared your process. It’s reminding me about the importance of a routine – like exercise.

    I’ve been less structured lately – mostly because I’m getting a lot of information these days from Twitter.

    [Reply]

  • Beth, thanks for stopping by. I get so much information from Twitter nowadays that I do consider it to be as much an information source as blogs. In fact, it’s better in some ways because of the diversity of sources that I’m exposed to. I’d love to read how you use Twitter for information sourcing – it is both so addictive and interesting that I could just read from Tweet link to Tweet link all day. The question I struggle with is – how to manage that information source? Hmm…maybe you’ve inspired another blog post now… 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Beth, thanks for stopping by. I get so much information from Twitter nowadays that I do consider it to be as much an information source as blogs. In fact, it’s better in some ways because of the diversity of sources that I’m exposed to. I’d love to read how you use Twitter for information sourcing – it is both so addictive and interesting that I could just read from Tweet link to Tweet link all day. The question I struggle with is – how to manage that information source? Hmm…maybe you’ve inspired another blog post now… 🙂

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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