[Editor’s note: We recently asked some of our Web-savviest contributors how they manage the daily deluge of online information. Wednesday, it was Senior Contributor Joe Kissell. Thursday, it was Senior Editor Christopher Breen. Today: Blogger Gina Trapani.]
For my job, I have to find, store, and share new stuff from the Web every day. To do that, I used to live and die by my feed reader. But these days, that’s not enough; there’s too much happening too quickly to keep up with it all even by RSS. And because I work from multiple computers as well as from my iPod touch and my smartphone, I also need to be able to sync all that information across devices.
I still keep track of sites I love with the free Google Reader. Because it’s Web-based, my read and unread items are the same no matter what computer or device I’m using.
I keep three folders in Google Reader: one called Daily news for headlines from publications like the BBC, NY Times, and CNN; a second I labeled Cannot Miss for my absolute favorite blogs and feeds; and a third called Casual for blogs and sites that sometimes offer interesting information.
Right now, those three folders contain 65 feeds (down from a peak of 250 or so). One way I keep them under control: When my total unread count goes past 1000, I hit the Mark All As Read link on my Daily News and Casual folders to clear out the clutter and start fresh.
It used to be that the first thing I did each day was review those RSS feeds. But now I visit Twitter first. It’s not just to see what my friends ate for breakfast. My watchful, link-loving friends on Twitter give me the news I need to know right off the bat.
I follow a diverse group, including folks whose interests parallel mine, others who are just plain interesting, and a few publications who push their headlines out to Twitter. These are my most trusted informants, my gateway to what’s going on right this minute.
Sometimes I make special TweetDeck groups of people to track a specific topic. For example, I love the television show “So You Think You Can Dance”, All the judges are on Twitter posting backstage photos and show announcements. When “SYTYCD” is airing, I keep a TweetDeck group just for people involved with the show.
Storing, sharing, syncing
I still need to have some Web pages that I don’t want to share with the world—such as online banking sites, work-related intranet pages, and bookmarklets—quickly accessible at all times. Storing them in Firefox’s bookmarks toolbar works well—until I’m using a different computer.
To make sure I have the same bookmarks in every browser I run, I use the free Xmarks browser extension, which is available for Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Anytime I add or delete a bookmark in one browser, Xmarks syncs those changes back to the cloud. The next time I open a browser on one of may othermachines, my bookmarks list gets updated. On mobile devices, I can access my bookmarks by visiting my account at xmarks.com in my mobile browser.
When I want to save some bit of online information for reference, I use Evernote. The free note-taking tool can capture any kind of input, such as voice notes or cameraphone shots of those back-of-napkin brainstorming scribbles. But it also comes with a Web-clipping browser add-on that makes saving Web content easy.
To share a link with my friends, I’ll post it to Twitter, my Tumblr account, or my blog, depending on the kind of content and who I want to share it with. Twitter and Tumblr offer instant publishing with short and no-frills posting interfaces; if I’ve got more to say about the item, I’ll write a full blog post about it.
Gina Trapani created and writes Smarterware.