Managing My Information World

One of my perennial interests is personal knowledge or information management. How do you keep track of all the stuff that comes at you? I’m an omnivore when it comes to collecting information. I’m working at improving my skills for disseminating information. So for the sake of my own future self who might want to know how I managed my information back in mid-2006 and any others who care, I offer the following list.

I’m dividing the post into three parts input, storage, and output.

Inputs, or how I do my daily read.

I use Firefox on my home and work computers. Bookmarks are synced with the Foxmarks bookmark. I have a couple of key groups that I check daily: news sites such as NYT, WashPo; political blogs - Tapped, Billmon, Dailykos, Political Animal, Sideshow.

To read RSS feeds I use NetNewsWire and FeedDemon, both synchronized through Newsgator. I keep my feeds in different groups based on topics - libraries, knowledge management, film, economics, politics, philosophy, poetics, productivity, business, science, techanalysts, SF. There’s also a @1 feed which contains my favorite feeds that I read daily. It usually takes me a week to cycle through all the groups of feeds. Some weeks I’ll focus on certain groups instead of others, such as reading the SF group during Wiscon.

For mail I use Apple Mail, hooked up to my personal and school accounts. I also have a yahoo account which sucks up a lot of account registration and commercial sites. Gmail I use for high volume mail lists, in two different accounts. I’ll check into gmail every few days, but sometimes let them linger for a month or more, depending on mood.

For searching I mostly use Google. In Firefox I’ve added search engines for Amazon, Technorati, Wikipedia, A9, Yahoo, Teoma, Clusty, Furl. If Google fails I’ll go through the list to see what other search engines suggest. The Groowe.com toolbar is also a good add-on to Firefox, especially for repeated searches across different engines.

For photos at Flickr I’ve just started using 1001. A nifty Mac application that let’s you subscribe to communities, tags, individuals, etc. It also let’s you mark items as favorites, or use them on your desktop.

Storage

Short term storage is usually ListMixer. I really like this site because bookmarks expire after 30 days if you don’t use them. I copied an Applescript onto my computer that sends the current open tabs from NetNewsWire to Listmixer. I’ll use this every few days when the number of tabs in the current window starts to become cluttered, usually around 20-30 tabs. I’m considering creating another script to take the list and dump it into a blog post tool, such as ecto.

Longer term bookmarks get sent to del.icio.us or furl. I use furl to store items, such as news stories, that I expect to search through in the future. Del.icio.us usually gets more high level items, such as the home page for different sites, instead of individual stories. So an article from the American Prospect will get sent to furl, while the address for the weblog goes to del.icio.us.

Output

Weblog posts are managed through ecto. I’ve been making extensive use of the draft facility the past few weeks to capture ideas and partial thoughts. It’s become even more ubiquitous than TextMate, my preferred text editor.

One of the things I like most about the Macintosh are the many different outlining applications that are available. I’ve tried to use all of them at some point. My preferred ones are OmniOutliner, Yojimbo, DevonThink, and Hog Bay Notebook now known as Mori.