Information Consumption: Manage the Flood of Information

One job duty of information workers is information consumption.  Efficient information consumption makes a difference in job performance.

My day begins with exercise, which is an excellent time for learning by listening to books or Podcasts, which I download to my iPhone 4. My source for audio books is audible.com. iTunes is my source for Podcasts. My favorite Podcast are business, computer and technology topics. For example, I’m a Podcast subscriber to Educause, Harvard Business Review IdeaCast and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Walking between appointments or my commute is another great time to listen to audio books and Podcasts content.

For the car, I have an iPhone car kit from iCarKits and a fitted iPhone holder from ProClips. The iPhone mount makes the iPhone accessible for touch input. The Bluetooth interface in the car allows hands free calling.

When I read versus listen to books I use the Kindle eReader on my iPad and iPhone. The books I buy in written digital form are typically reference books. This allows me to carry a library of reference books and material with me. With the Kindle eReader, I can highlight, add notes and bookmark, which also travels with me. The search feature allows me to search my entire library for information on a particular topic. In the past several years I’ve given away most of my paper books.

My reading list is shared on Facebook using the weRead application and on LinkedIn using the ReadingList by Amazon application. By sharing my reading list I have access to other reading list and discovery good books.

For news, my iPad delivers this content from a variety of sources. Paper is almost non-existent in my work or personal life including newspapers and magazines. I find the iPad to be the best device for information consumption, especially if designed for the device. Sitting in an easy chair with my iPad versus sitting at a desk looking at computer screen is better experience for reading. I’ve modified my workflow to set aside reading for a time when I can sit comfortably with my iPad. Some of my favorite sources include USA Today, Mashable, Wired, and Zinio for digital magazines. Digital magazines are great for travel because they do not add any weight to your travel pack and they are typically less expense than if purchase from the news stand.

Another important tool for news is Google Reader. Google Reader aggregates RSS news feeds from a variety of sources, providing me filtered news. Skimming through headlines on my iPhone is a great use of time when you are walking between appointments or waiting for an appointment. With the Google Reader I can quickly mark items for reading later. On my iPad I use NewsRack to review headlines and read full news articles at optimal times and places. As a rule I stay away from general news sites such as msnbc.com because most news is a distraction and you get sucked into unimportant, although possibly entertaining, time wasting junk.

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google search results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. For example, I use Google Alerts to track “Tushaus”. This pushes time sensitive information to me in near real-time.

Our organization uses Yammer to facilitate communications with our co-workers. It provides a forum for user to post work activities and work news. My posts intend to inform and share important and relevant work communications.

Twitter is useful if managed effectively. By following interesting people, it uses crowd sourcing curates news.
My browser of choice is Google Chrome, although it is sometimes necessary to use Microsoft Internet Explorer due to incompatible applications. The most important feature is the bookmark synchronization. With a Google account my bookmarks synchronize automatically on multiple computers. My browser is set to remember web sites open in tabs when I closed the applications and reopen them again when I start the browser. I’ve found I regularly use 10 web sites that I keep open in a tab at all times. By using a Google account, Google tracks my search and browsing activity. Google uses this information to improve or personal search results based on past activity. Google keeps a history of search my activity which I find useful.

Information management will only become more important.