Scanning the blogsphere to collect information

If it’s true that most of the knowledge that we get comes from sources that are external to our organization, then it makes sense that the more information that we can access the better.  In line with this theory, I’ve recently made some fairly significant changes to how I process information that I get from reading blogs and it’s having a good effect.  Here’s some tips to get you started.

Increasing the number of blogs I read

Over the past month I’ve significantly increased the number of blogs that I subscribe to – maybe by a factor of 4 or 5 times.  For those who know me, this will seem odd for two reasons.  Firstly, I’ve always been an extreme minimalist in terms of the number of blogs that I subscribe to and secondly because I’ve just started Uni, and that alone requires an insane amount of reading.

As somebody who is looking towards innovation as a future source of income then it’s important to do some R&D.  Because of its open nature, the blogsphere will play an increasingly important role as a source of important information (Gilman, J, 1995).

I’m currently using the blogsphere as a scanning source for collecting information on topics such as: GenY, Innovation, Knowledge Management, Collaboration, SaaS, Education, Devices, Humour, and Relaxation.  This is a much wider focus than I’ve ever had before, and so it makes sense that I needed a new strategy for processing all of that information.

 

Async/Offline processing

In coming up with a new strategy for harvesting information from blogs there were 2 important factors that came into play.  The first factor was changing my reading patterns.  Previously, I would always read every word in each article.  A short 2,000 article might take me 40 minutes to read – especially after re-reading chunks to ensure that every minute detail was taken in.  This is bad, especially for someone who potentially has to churn through hundreds of these each day.  The numbers just didn’t stack up; something had to change.

When we started at Uni, they gave us some material which contained some useful tips for increasing our reading capacity but it wasn’t until fellow Readifarian Francois Beaussier sent me a link to another article on the subject that the penny dropped.  So, the first thing that I did was to change from being a person who read all of the content in an article to someone who became more of a ‘scanner’

The second important thing for me was the realization that quite a lot of my processing had been done in a fairly narrow wedge of time.  Most blog reading tends to be done during the middle of the week (Mitchell, S, 2004), a fact which reflects when most content is written.  My own Google Reader stats confirmed that this was also true for me.

image

Process the information faster through the scanning technique allowed me to increase the amount of information that I was processing quite significantly, but the important breakthrough that I reached was to also distribute my reading better across peak and non-peak times.

 

A Weekend Read

Those who subscribe to my blog will have noticed a new category of posts that I’ve started producing recently titled A Weekend Read.  These posts are produced over the weekend and they represent the most significant articles that I read throughout the week.

In my case, the word word ‘Read’ (in ‘A Weekend Read’) is used as an adjective, while for the reader of my blog it will generally be used as a transitive verb.

The Weekend Read series of links represents the articles that I’ve scanned in my blog reader and marked for further reading.  I also share these entries as I mark them and you can subscribe directly to that feed if you would like access to them throughout the week rather than waiting until the weekend.

Once I’ve marked an entry for later reading, it can then be parallelized and read when I have time – preferably in a comfy chair and during a non-peak time. 

All of this means that, not only am I getting through more content but that importantly, the important content is consumed in an effective manner – an important fact if I’m to be able to make sense of all the information that comes my way.

The final step in the chain is that I take 15 minutes at the end of the week to scan the list of entries that I had marked, and then I dump links to the best one’s in a blog post and submit it.  So the ‘A Weekend Read‘ post that you’ll see from me really is the best of everything I learned through the week.

 

Related Reading:

How to process information like a GenY

References:

1) Gilman, J, 1995, Top-down or Bottom-up Research Management – Thou shalt versus Eurika!

2) Mitchell, S, 2004, Analyzing Your .Text Blog

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~ by D on February 28, 2008.

48 Responses to “Scanning the blogsphere to collect information”

  1. Darren –As someone who finds himself reading posts through Google Reader around a lot of the same topics you do, I\’d love to add you as a friend in Reader, if you\’re interested.  Feel free to send me a GTalk chat request at <my last name> at gmail  if you want to link up and share articles.Thanks!John Ferringer

  2. Thanks John… subscribed!

  3. when it comes to how I process the information i read in blogs, i\’ve taken the opposite appraoch– i\’m actually reading FEWER blogs now than i was before. i found that i read a lot of stuff more than once, and got rid of all the blogs that were focused around peoples\’ opinions. it leaves more time for the facts.

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