Step 2: Aggregate

Let’s say that you’ve actually got your team using social bookmarks (my last post) and it’s going gangbusters, with hundreds of articles tagged and dozens of people sharing information. You’re getting into attention deficit, with too much to read and not enough time. Now what?

What you need is a feed reader, which is a way for you to decide what you want to keep track of and pulls all of your information sources into one location. Feed readers can be web or desktop applications. Popular web versions are Bloglines and Google Reader, while the Thunderbird e-mail client has an integrated feed reader or you can use NewsGator with MS Outlook.

I use Bloglines but many of my online compatriots seem to be moving to Google Reader. There are dozens of other options.

bloglines.jpg

Feed readers let you pull any new information from a site that has what’s called an RSS feed. Using automatic subscription widgets that can be put into a browser makes this easy and you don’t really need to know about RSS. Like social bookmarks, feed readers can be public or private, and your feed reader can keep track of all those social bookmarks, because they have RSS feeds. For instance, you can subscribe to my del.icio.us bookmarks or you can view the my public feed reader.

There are many resources online that can walk you through the set up of feed reader. If you’re stumped, leave a comment here or send me an e-mail and I’ll connect you with the appropriate resource.

The bottom line is that in Step 1 you started to share information that was previously locked-up on your workstation. With Step 2 you are using a tool that lets you control what you want to monitor and how you want to see it. You’re pulling information, instead of having it pushed at you, as you would with an e-mail newsletter. Pull is replacing push because we’re getting inundated with information. For instance, Jay Cross recently shut down his newsletter, replacing it with existing blogs and other social networking applications, such as the Internet Time Community (worth joining if you’re interested in learning technologies).

Aggregating your information sources (news, blogs, bookmarks) is not going to solve all of your knowledge sharing needs, but it sure is better than using e-mail. Most kids only use e-mail to communicate with their parents; it’s so last millennium 😉

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