Narrow the Field
There’s going to be a lot of ways to be distracted on social networks, so plan your windows of time and choose your arsenal. Listening is a good way to get started, but there’s plenty to ‘listen’ to out there. Here are some tips for organizing your online listening and reading.
Consolidate your Reading Material
RSS, which I wrote about here, is a general term that means ‘really simple syndication’ or in plain English, Read Some Stuff. What it does is allow you to ‘subscribe’ to blogs and news sites. Much like the newspaper delivered to your door, new articles will be delivered to your inbox or your ‘feed reader.’
If you’re really into reading lots of blogs, try NetVibes, where you can categorize blogs by topic. Categorizing in this way would help me stay on task whereas my current RSS set up on my iGoogle homepage just throws them all together; as a result, I find myself going from a news article to a recipe to a business blog to a non-profit blog–ahgh!
Label your ‘Folders’
When you’re exploring things online, it can be like a messy desk. Once you can start organizing websites with topics like folders. For example, you can bookmark your favorite web pages. One way to categorize them is by adding ‘tags’ when you save them to particular locations, e.g. with bookmarking tools available online.
Tags are words that represent categories. You’ll often see these represented on blogs or sites in a ‘tag cloud’ where the largest, boldest words are the most frequently used. In Delicious, a social bookmarking site, you can tag things for other users by simply adding a tag
If someone else you know is using Delicious to tag similar interests, you could just ‘follow’ them on your RSS feed. To do so, you click the RSS feed button at the bottom of their account. Here‘s a page of sites referencing library diversity.
You can also tag pages at news sites. Here‘s a page where travel was used as a tag. By adding tags, you’ll have a page where your selected sites with similar topics–and tags–will be grouped together.
Lastly, you can keep your own running list of favorite pages on your web broser with the tool Zotero. If you’re doing research on a particular topic, I find this handy button an easy way to mark things for later reading, and to group them by subject tag.
You’re still going to have to ‘clean out’ your tags and feeds periodically, just like you clean up your inbox and email accounts periodically.