Embracing Information Overload

As a freelancer, I spend most of my time trying to manage information overload. However, despite this obsession with efficiently gathering information, there are also times when I actively seek out that overload. While a fire hose of notifications and feeds can be too distracting when I am working on client work, if I am looking for inspiration, I want to see as much information as possible in the hope that something will catch my eye and provide the inspiration that I need to kick start a new blog post or some other effort.

Here are a few of my favorite tools for embracing information overload.

With File Sharing, FriendFeed Rides the Collaboration Wave

fileattachmentsFriendFeed rolled out a new file-sharing feature on its site this afternoon in hopes of encouraging more organizations to use FriendFeed as a collaboration tool.

On its blog, FriendFeed explained:

This has been an especially popular request from organizations and companies that collaborate using FriendFeed groups. We’ve certainly been using this feature internally and have found it extremely useful. We hope it’ll help make you and your collaborators even more productive, and a little more attached to FriendFeed.

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Options for Managing Many Online Identities

social-network-iconsAs social networks have proliferated, it’s sometimes hard to remember where one’s online identities may be found. And if you have a common name, as I do, people sometimes can’t tell which Charles Hamilton I am. (No, I’m not a rap artist!)

Thus, there are a number of sites that are intended to help put all of your online presences in one place. I’ve tried a few of these aggregators. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, so check them out, and see which options might work for you. Read More about Options for Managing Many Online Identities

RIM CEO: Phones Are Intensely Personal

BB PearlPhones are personal devices, more so than almost any other gadget that one can use. I have stated before that gadgets used in the hand are very personal in nature as a result, and is why there is no such thing as a “killer phone.” There will never be a “one phone fits all” because we are all so different and the phone is so personal. Research In Motion (s rimm) learned that quickly when it started making BlackBerrys aimed at consumers.

RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis gave a talk at the D: All Things Digital conference and he admitted that the company was pulled into the consumer market due to demand. He also now realizes that phones are intensely personal devices, which makes the consumer space more difficult than the business market.

“The closer a technology gets to a person, the more it has to represent our values, our styles,” he said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all (business).”

It’s great to see that RIM discovered this early on. The company hasn’t been in the consumer space all that long and as we often say it’s a different beast than the enterprise market. We geeky consumers want the perfect phone, even though it doesn’t (and never will) exist.

(via CNET)

10 Golden Rules of Social Media

I know, I know — it’s a bit presumptuous of me to think I can write the “10 Golden Rules of Social Media.” Then again, I’ve been online since 1987, consulting clients on the Internet since 1992, on the web since 1994, immersed in working on and speaking about the web since the mid-90s, so I do feel like I’ve paid some dues and learned some lessons along the way.

So here are my 10 Golden Rules of Social Media to embrace, debate, pass around and refine. Have at it.

Organize Your Online Profiles With GizaPage

GizaPage - LogoIf you’re like me, you’ve got personal web profiles scattered all across the web. Each time I register with a new service, another one is created, and each is a glimpse into my online activities.

One of the challenges is that the connections I’ve made through one service have a hard time finding me on the others. GizaPage, a new service launching in beta today, hopes to make that process easier.

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Using Social Media Sites As “RSS Readers”

Increasingly, social media web sites are becoming much more than places to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues online. They’re becoming major hubs of information consumption, analysis and distribution as well, so it’s important to understand how this trend is playing out on some of the more popular destinations on the social web.

In fact, social media web sites such as Twitter, FriendFeed and  Facebook have the potential to take over many of the functions of RSS readers such as Google Reader, Newsgator and Bloglines.

twitter-logoAmidst all the hubbub of Ashton Kutcher and CNN and Oprah Winfrey and Save Chuck, Twitter has become a nifty and dynamic way to receive inbound alerts about news stories and information, giving the ability to turn your Twitter stream into an “RSS reader” of sorts.

There are a few different ways to use Twitter as an RSS reader. The first is to simply follow those users who broadcast links to stories and web sites that you find interesting and relevant (Robert Scoble, for example, when it comes to all things tech, Internet and geek). This is a means of crafting your own “smart people network” that sends the best stories and links to you. As David Drager at systemBash writes, “I find it awesome to be able to see what is going on, without having to manage ‘feeds.'”

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What the Smart Grid Could Learn From Facebook Connect

As social media has exploded, web startups building social applications are offering users ways to manage that proliferation. Some, such as FriendFeed, provide a central place for users to aggregate different services, while others, like Facebook Connect, offer tools for federation — a single way to access them all. But the dilemma over whether it’s better to aggregate or federate isn’t confined to social media — companies building out the smart grid and related infrastructure technologies are beginning to grapple with this question, too.
When it comes to carbon and energy data, the purchases we make and the resources we use constitute our de facto “profiles” in real-world networks such as utility grids, roadways, financial systems and business supply chains. Energy and carbon management tools integrate information about our total energy use from these profiles in an effort to cut our carbon footprints. As smart technologies provide ever more data for these profiles, a Facebook Connect-like approach that uses federation, rather than aggregation, may be best-positioned to make energy and carbon management tools more effective, without sacrificing user privacy.
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Social Networks For 2009 That Web Workers Need To Pay Attention To

For web workers, some social networks matter more than others. What I mean by that is while MySpace is still one of the most popular web sites on the planet (Alexa has it ranked No. 9 currently), it’s simply not that important — in relative terms — for connecting with colleagues, potential customers and contacts; obtaining breaking news, links and social media chatter; or getting a sense of what’s happening in social media circles in real time.
As 2009 is shaping up, the most popular and relevant social networks and social media platforms for web workers are Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and LinkedIn. Granted, there’s a vast galaxy of other valuable and interesting social web sites to select from, but it’s important to get a sense of how to get the most out of this particular foursome.
twitter-logoTwitter was a phenomenon in 2007, a rising social media star in 2008, and has largely attained mainstream status in 2009 (cable news stations are falling all over themselves these days in attempt to send you to their Twitter profile, for example). It’s simply one of the most important places to be online. It’s also an amazingly simple and flexible product, which befuddles some and delights many.
While Twitter’s flexibility makes it very useful for all kinds of things — from live event reporting to simply staying in  touch with friends and colleagues — I’m coming to believe its most important use for web workers is as a “social media marketing tool.” That, of course, can have many meanings, but think of it like this: it’s a tool to engage the now-mainstream Twitter community in a friendly way, putting a human face on your product or service (or the brand called you!). The counterintuitive fact is that the more you use Twitter as a place to help people and talk about your life and the world at large, the more you’re likely to draw people to trust you — and the brand that you represent — more.
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How To Monitor Online Conversations

Interesting conversations are happening all over the web, on blogs, Twitter, FriendFeed and many other sites. People are talking about you, your company, your industry and revealing many tips and tricks that you should know. I am a self-confessed data junkie, so I have a few tips to help you make sense of the massive amounts of data available and to focus on monitoring just what really matters.