Organizing your news overload (2009)

 

One of the things I am frequently asked is how I take in a digest all the information that is out there.

There are many ways to organize all the news and data that contributes to information overload, but here are a few.

I originally tried subscribing to RSS feeds and reading the information in my browser, but I just didn’t feel like that was a very effective solution for me.

So after some searching, I found the AJAX-based homepages of iGoogle, Pageflakes, and Netvibes.

These sites let you customize a homepage with whatever news and information you want. You can add ‘widgets’ that include the weather, time zones, sports, etc.

For those of us in the military, it is a great tool for multiple reasons:

1) HUDS. It can act as a a Heads Up Display in a TOC or other operation center. You have a page that can be viewed on a projector and/or flatscreen that gives you a good snapshot of several feeds all at once. When we go to the field, I always have my newswall as my homepage on the laptop and have it displayed so others can see it. As you can see on my page, I have subpages for different areas such as Print, TV, local, social media, etc.

2) Customizable. I have my own header with my blog site information, but you can just as easily put a unit logo or other information on top. For my newswall, I have a jpeg file hosted on my blogsite and just pasted in the URL of that image in the Netvibes admin section. You can also have pages and or widgets that are specific to your organization or area of operation.

3) Content updates automatically. Since it is using RSS feeds, as the news hits the web, all your widgets get updated automatically.

4) Free. There is no charge for any of this. The only thing you spend is a little time to set it up, and once it’s up you dont have to touch it again.

I have tried all three of them and I personally like Netvibes the best. It looks better, the widgets seem to work better, and you can easily switch between a private and public page.

I recommend changing the colors of each (i.e. my ‘public’ page is the black/yellow header you see, my ‘private’ page is a blue color) so you never get confused which one you’re on. I use the private page for to-do lists, notes, checking email, etc.

I have set up several different variations of these for work, and they have all been positively received.

Mike Nicholson

Mike Nicholson is a U.S. Army Veteran who spent his military career working in Strategic Communications, Public Affairs, and Information Operations. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication plans in a variety of stateside and overseas assignments, he uses 46ALPHA to share his lessons learned with military and spouse Veteran Entrepreneurs, and others looking to improve their digital communications.

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