Keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and points of interest in your field of expertise can be a challenge. I have used several strategies to assist myself in achieving this in my areas of interest; technology, elearning and education. However I often find myself with information overload. Having recently starting to use Flipboard on the iPad I have evolved a new strategy.
My previous strategy was focused around Google Reader, I subscribed to several news-feeds from sources such as The Guardian, Times Higher Education and BBC, plus RSS feeds from blogs and journals. I’d access these either via a web-browser or Feedler iPhone/iPad app. When reading through these I’d use the best of them in a couple ways; Bookmarking on Delicious and/or Sharing them on my Public Shared Google Feed.
The problem with this strategy was information overload, I found myself receiving on average some where between 500-1000 news items a day.
When I started using Flipboard this prompted a change in strategy. Flipboard is “a personalised social media magazine” through which you can subscribe to pre-programmed sources such as Flip Tech, which is feed from several sources of technology news from around the web, Wired Magazine and New Scientists.
The key feature of Flibboard is you can bring in the feeds from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This presents any links posted by people you follow on these accounts like a magazine, it does this by taking the text and any key images from posted links and presents them in a visually stimulating way that replicates the style of paperbased glossy magazines. The image below shows an example.
Since starting to use Flipboard I have subscribed to @guardiantech, @guardian_sport and @timeshighered on twitter as they post the majority of their articles via these accounts and this enables them to be presented in the fashion described above. This actually makes it easier to asses and discard information quicker than my previous method of using Google Reader which presents the information as a list.
Subscribing to these sources via two accounts (Flipboard and Google Reader) resulted in receiving duplicated information, hence this has lead to a change in strategy, as shown in the image below.
This has advantages and disadvantages, I now find it easier to keep up-to-date with Guardian news and THE news and resulted in alot less to sieve through via Google Reader and meaning my Google account is really only used for following blogs and journals. This is somewhat of a benefit as the information recieved that tends to be more relevant and pertinent to my areas of interest. However this does mean I can’t share as much via Google Reader Shared Items.
This has lead to more traffic via my twitter account, although I have adopted strategies to deal with this. I read most tweets via echofon Firefox plugin throughout the day. Although items like the Guardian post shown here in red come through on the feed I often ignore them during the day, in the knowledge I’ll see the content of the link later in the day via Flipboard. Links posted by colleagues I follow like that highlighted in blue, I will make a judgment at the time whether to read at the time of posting or via Flipboard.
I do have some critique of Flipboard, I initially fed my Facebook account into it, but I personally find the interface does not have much benefit over Facebook’s own interface either online or iPhone/iPad app. My other criticism is the current inbuilt content and offered subscriptions are very American focused e.g. New York Times. I wish there was more inbuilt UK content e.g. BBC.
Another frustration is having read an interesting article and wanting to bookmark it involves exiting Flipboard and opening the article in Safari to ‘Save to Delicious’. On re-opening Flipboard you have wait for the app to re-syndicate and then ‘flip’ back through the items you have already read. It would be nice to see at ‘mark as read’ or place marker feature. Or, but less likely, a in built ‘Save to…’ feature, this could be linked to several bookmarking services.
However these are minor criticisms and Flipboard i feel is fairly ground breaking as a method of presenting social media content.