Not Everyone Can Drink from the Fire Hydrant remix of photo
It's been over a year since I've been doing the NpTech Tag Summary at Netsquared and here. During the last 2 years, people who work in nonprofit technology have been tagging items with the tag "nptech" if they thought it was of interest to others working in the field.
Over the past six months, I've had an opportunity to reflect with colleagues at CoP squared on tagging communities in a monthly phone call as part of its "follow the community leader" program. We've unpacked and reflected on online tagging communities and behaviors. I've put some thoughts to paper in an article with Marnie Webb and presentation almost six months.
As the emergence of "social streams" that result from combining object-based social sharing (what del.icio.us does with bookmarks and what flickr does with photos) with social networking sites like Facebook, I keep wondering about the people on don't have time or simply don't want to swim in the streams. The value of an manually assembled "digest" or "summary" is still important.
With the added channel of Facebook feeds, I am personally looking my methods and work flows for aggregation. I reflect on my process but I also ask advice of colleagues who are doing similar types of work flows. I asked Jeremiah Owyang, whose digests I really appreciate, for some tips. Very useful. Particularly:
I may be rare, but I’m consuming a lot of information in my reader, and other aggregators. I make mental notes to filter and scan the vertical that I’ve chosen. During the week, I collect these links and drop them into a draft file or post, I actually complete the paragraph I write about then in real time, going back to do them at once is painful. I do the formatting then too. I try to find links to the original source of the news.
Collecting a bunch of links isn’t helpful, in fact there’s tons of websites that already do that from Techmeme to Delicious. What’s valuable is adding your insight, analysis, and opinion. Learn to summarize and take a stand.
In addition, group content in certain tags, in my case, I put the category in the subtitle such as “Money: Title”, this further makes skimming easier, as clear concise headlines save time for readers. Consider creating a unique tag or category for this digest.
Now, of course, Jeremiah is coming from a business environment and as analyst talks about verticals. The NpTech tag has been described as a community - so the summaries get long - because I've tried to as much as possible explore the longtail of nptech and find people to point to. I don't stick strictly to items tagged with nptech -- I often visit all the links to items in an NpTech tagged item and fully explore someone's blog and when I find something I might be the one to tag it. Not everything gets summarized - not because I don't think it is important, but sometimes the sheer volume and my time constraints come to play. I won't even go into telling you how much time it takes ...
I've been trying some of these out. I'd love to know what Stephen Downes has to add to these tips and reflections on summaries. Other aggregators out there, what are you tips? What makes it efficient?
For those of you that actually read the NpTech Tag summary, what are some ways to improve it?