Web workflows: Keep it simple

[Editor’s note: We asked some of our Web-savviest contributors how they manage the daily deluge of online information. Yesterday, it was Senior Contributor Joe Kissell. Today: Senior Editor Christopher Breen.]

When it comes to the flow of online information, I play it strictly old-school. I do so not only because I’m old enough to have earned the right to be stuck in my ways, but also because it makes that flow manageable for me.

Reading

By “old-school,” I mean I still do most of my online information-gathering with a Web browser (currently Safari 4 ( )). Within that browser, I sort bookmarks into folders for the subjects that interest me: an Apple folder for sites that cover that company and its products; another for music and media (my beats for Macworld); and a couple of others that reflect my outside interests (politics and humor, among them).

I also regularly browse the Google News home page. I’ve personalized that page to show six stories at a time in the Sci/Tech section. (Click the Edit this Page link in upper right corner, click on Sci/Tech, then select the number of stories you want to see.) In the course of my work, I see enough tech stories written with geeks in mind; Google News gives me a better perspective on what tech stories are capturing the attention of a more mainstream audience.

My morning folder
I keep a collection of Mac-related sites in a bookmarks folder with the Auto-Click option enabled, making it easy to open them all at once.
I put some of those Apple-related bookmarks in a folder that has the Auto-click option enabled. That way, when I first sit down at my Mac in the morning, I can open all the bookmarks in that folder as separate tabs with one click.

(To do this yourself, click Safari’s Bookmarks button in the Bookmarks bar. In the resulting page, select Bookmarks Bar, create a new folder (by clicking the plus-sign (+) at the bottom of the pane), name it, and add to it the items you want. Put a checkmark in the Auto-Click box. That done, the folder will now appear in your Bookmarks Bar; to open all the bookmarks in it, just click on the folder.)

I don’t do all of my browsing on my Mac; I also use my iPhone. Because its version of Safari doesn’t support tabs, I narrow the list of sites I want to browse on it to a couple, then save those as icons on the phone’s Home screen. (Open the site in Safari, click the plus-sign (+) at the bottom of the screen, then select Add to Home Screen.) On the phone, I’ve added Google Reader as a Home screen icon. With a tap of that icon, I can read my RSS feeds..

Discovering

I also use Twitter; it’s a great source for stories I might not otherwise see, filtered through people I trust. I tend to follow other people who are interested in Apple and technology, including most of my co-workers. I’ve followed enough of their Twitter links to know who’s got their eye on interesting developments and will often follow the links those trustworthy souls post.

At the same time, I’ve learned whose links are for entertainment or promotional purposes only. At some point, I may create a new account that follows these less reliable info-pals, so I don’t have to spend as much time weeding through the chaff (diverting though that chaff may be).

Storing, sharing, syncing

Finally, I use Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo ( ) as my Web junk drawer. When I find a page I want to keep for long-term reference or reading later, I click on the Archive in Yojimbo bookmarklet that I’ve placed in my Bookmarks Bar; the page is then stored in Yojimbo for later browsing.

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