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information overloadThe problem that most people, including myself, run into while browsing the internet is complete information overload. Finding data is a problem that Google mainly solved years ago – now the challenge the typical user faces is how to find relevant information.

In the past, this was done by keywords. There is a problem using keywords to categorize content on the broader scope of the internet – the first is that many items cannot be put into neat categories. What one person might think fits in a certain category doesn’t match what another person things is relevant. Also spammers have learned to capitalize on simple keyword matching so this further dilutes the quality of content you can find via keywords.


New technologies have been popping up all over the web to help mediate this ‘information overload’ problem. Below I mention a handful of these tools which will help you to ‘do more with less’.

For Text

Summarity

information overload

Summarity is a web application with an available bookmarklet that will automatically take text, either pasted in or from the referring webpage, and summarize it in as few lines as possible.

There is a great article over at their blog about how great summaries disambiguate topics. That means that when a word is mentioned it uses context to determine what the actual sentence is about.

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Sniply

information overload and internet

Snip.ly is a URL-shortening service that also allows you to include snippets, or summaries, of the article you are linking too. We have covered snip.ly previously and it continues to be a great service for those looking to save other people’s time by summarizing an article. It would be great to see the auto-summarizing of Summarity and the URL shortening of Snip.ly working together.

For News

Geneio

information overload and internet

Geneio is a service that installs on your computer and analyzes your current web history to determine content that interests you. A few minutes after installing, it determines your preferences and generates a homepage which is tailored to your interests.

The thing I like about Geneio is that you do not need to spend any time ‘training’ it. Once you install it, it uses your past web history to determine the types of articles and topics that you are already interested in, and I’ve found it to be fairly accurate.

Google News

surviving information overload

Google News is a straight up aggregator of news items. It determines what is popular based on the volume of articles from different news sites; making sure that you don’t read any ‘fluff’ content and stick to the main articles at any moment in time.

TechMeme

surviving information overload

TechMeme or “Tech Memorandum” is a website which uses both algorithmic and human based content filtering to give you the top stories. Its blended approach gives readers a great overview of the goings on at any time in the tech world (and I am assuming you are interested in this as well since you read MakeUseOf!). TechMeme is the first site I visit in the morning while catching up on the latest news of the day.

For RSS

My6Sense

surviving information overload

My6Sense is a startup with a horrible name but one which has really saved me a lot of time. Their software only works on the iPhone and Android platform, but once you start using it you will understand why it is such a great product. Once you import your RSS feeds from Google Reader, and your Twitter and Facebook accounts, My6Sense begins analyzing how your read items and will start to give you personalized relevant results.

Rather than go based on what you think you are interested in, My6Sense actually looks at what you click on – they have found that sometimes the two don’t exactly match up. In this way they can determine what you are really interested in rather than what you think you are interested in.

Google Reader “Sort by Magic”

information overload

Google Reader’s “Sort by Magic” option can actually help you sort through the unending number of items you may have in your feed reader. This option sorts your RSS folder based on the popularity of the post and how you interact with and share news items. This can cut through the posts which are not so important and bring the more interesting ones to the top, saving you time.

These tips are just a start to cutting through information overload. Sometimes you just need to decide when you need to cut out adding new information into your brain and take a breather. The amount of information available at your fingertips at any point in time, even while mobile, is astounding. When you are feeling overloaded, its just plain good advice to power down and go for a walk!

Do you have any tricks or tips that you use to help reduce information overload? Please share in the comments below!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

  1. Michel Cmp
    November 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    NoteTab is a text editor with lots of great features. it has a paste pad --- any text you copy ( ctrl c) while surfing for info gets pasted automatically.

  2. Heywood970
    November 24, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    http://www.intrade.com it keeps up current on the probability of big events without having to read all the blogs / editorial / etc.

  3. Heywood970
    November 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    http://www.intrade.com it keeps up current on the probability of big events without having to read all the blogs / editorial / etc.

  4. Dave
    November 19, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Was feeling a bit overwhelmed by Google Reader so someone turned me on to feedly.com , much better reading experience.

  5. Dave
    November 19, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Was feeling a bit overwhelmed by Google Reader so someone turned me on to feedly.com , much better reading experience.

  6. Benjamin Petit
    November 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    One thing I would really love to see is a news reader that compare news coming from different feeds and only select the most complete news when they are duplicated. Especially interesting for tech news, like Apple news, you always have 4 or 5 times the same story! Also google reader recommendations are great but same thing, it include news you already read...

    • Dave Drager
      November 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Yes! I would love to see this too... in my RSS feed there are always multiple items mentioning the same event. There should be an algorithm that will go through and condense those stories into the same item, similar to what Google News or Techmeme does.

  7. Annie Banannie
    November 18, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I love your google reader tip "sort by magic." I'll try it.

    The biggest thing I do to help with info overload is to always start my reader in summary mode. That way I can scan through the blogs I'm subscribed to and if I'm in a hurry, I can just catch up on some of them.

    I also put the blogs in folders so I can catch up on one type of blog at a time (for example, elementary literacy) so I can keep my brain directed towards one subject at a time.

    This also helps me prioritize and eliminate subjects I thought I was interested in but really don't keep up with. If I haven't read a blog for a while, chances are it doesn't apply to me any more. I purge my subscriptions constantly.

    I'm finding lately that following twitter feeds for people I'm interested in really helps. I have one list on twitter called "watch." If someone repeatedly tweets things that interest me, their blog usually graduates from there to my RSS feed.

    This is a great article. Keep 'em coming. (BTW you have a high priority spot in my google reader.)

    • Dave Drager
      November 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      I do this too - some folders I read daily and other I read every once in a while. It is too much to keep up with 100s of RSS feeds!

  8. Annie Banannie
    November 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    I love your google reader tip "sort by magic." I'll try it.

    The biggest thing I do to help with info overload is to always start my reader in summary mode. That way I can scan through the blogs I'm subscribed to and if I'm in a hurry, I can just catch up on some of them.

    I also put the blogs in folders so I can catch up on one type of blog at a time (for example, elementary literacy) so I can keep my brain directed towards one subject at a time.

    This also helps me prioritize and eliminate subjects I thought I was interested in but really don't keep up with. If I haven't read a blog for a while, chances are it doesn't apply to me any more. I purge my subscriptions constantly.

    I'm finding lately that following twitter feeds for people I'm interested in really helps. I have one list on twitter called "watch." If someone repeatedly tweets things that interest me, their blog usually graduates from there to my RSS feed.

    This is a great article. Keep 'em coming. (BTW you have a high priority spot in my google reader.)

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