Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Aggregating content from multiple sources - and how to manage information overload

I had the pleasure to attend a webinar titled "How to read updates from hundreds of websites and blogs, fast and easily?", organized by GFAR and facilitated by Peter Casier, the GFAR Social Media Coordinator. Despite the fact that I am no longer working as a Marketing & Networks manager for Agroknow, I still have a personal interest for social media and the way that they are used for information and knowledge sharing - this interest is then applied in my daily work and transformed into tweets, blog posts and other means of sharing. On top of that, I am still contributing to Agroknow's social media presence in various ways.

Peter has a really long experience in social media and he managed to deliver the webinar in a really casual way, engaging participants, making jokes and being really friendly (as opposed to typical, serious webinars where the presenter remains strict and focused throughout the webinar). Questions were posed through the chat box and Peter responded on the fly with the help from Tania Jordan who was moderating the webinar.

The webinar focused on how to manage and read news from multiple sources, using the Feedly service as the main tool; even though I was already aware of Feedly (and in fact heavily using it on a daily basis), I still learned some things that I didn't know and also got some nice new ideas like the Feed Informer. I was glad to see Agrifeeds used as an example of agrifood news feed aggregator; we use Agrifeeds with the Agroknow blog for sharing RSS feeds of interest to the blog's readers - at the same time, we have registered the blog's RSS feed through AgriFeeds, so it is available to anyone browsing through the numerous feeds included.

To make a long story short, Feedly allows users to collect RSS feeds of their interest and organize them in categories through an easy to use interface. At the same time, it provides a feed of its own, which can be used by RSS readers. This allows its users to create a custom list of RSS feeds, organize them and have them delivered in their RSS feed reader.

I was also affected by this information management overload as I wanted to peek news and updates from numerous online sources, such as blogs, websites and portals. My personal workflow is the following:

  1. Add my favorite feeds in my Feedly account.
  2. Organize them in categories (e.g. social media, information management, tech/gadgets, science etc.).
  3. Use Flux, a user-friendly RSS reader, on my Lumia 735 mobile phone to connect with Feedly
  4. As I do not currently use a mobile data plan, I download all new RSS feeds through Flux (actually refreshing the feeds) to my Lumia before I leave home in the morning and before I leave office in the afternoon.
  5. While commuting to the office/back home, I have all the news items I need in my mobile phone and can browse through them very quickly and effectively.
  6. If I find an article that I want to read on a full screen, including images (that are not displayed when offline) or share with friends and colleagues, I just use the share functionality embedded in Flux and I send the article through email; when I connect to a wifi network, emails are automatically sent to their recipients. Each email consists of the article's title (as the email's subect) and a link to the actual article.
  7. Bonus: When I want to share one of these articles through social media when I reach office, I just send an email to myself from another email account (always using my mobile phone) so that I get this link in my Agroknow email inbox when I arrive at the office :-) 
This workflow allows me to get up-to-date with what I would like to check out and get some fresh material to share through my personal and Agroknow set of social media without spending too much time online.

So, big thanks to Peter Casier and everyone involved in the design and implementation of the webinar; I am already looking forward to the next one, titled "How to define and measure your social media performance?"; an issue that has already concerned me in the past.

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