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Steve Wylie
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Managing the Tools that Manage Information

I love the flexibility Enterprise 2.0 tools provide and have made it somewhat of a personal quest to find new ways to use these tools to make my job easier. But as I and my employer adopt new applications to help manage information, I find the number of tools and all the little pockets of information they generate to be a little unmanageable. Here's why:We have a very robust wiki/project management tool that's been in use within our group for a few years now. The tool is widely used by our team and has become pretty entrenched in the group's culture. Couple that with a new, company-wide roll out of a team collaboration/community/project platform that's starting to take root as well. Add to the mix a few other applications I use such as Facebook, Linked-In and GrandCentral. I have a work email account and a couple personal email accounts, IM and Twitter and I use Google to manage the various RSS feeds I track. The result of all of this is a lot of time spent managing information in a lot of different places. Turn on email alerts for some of these applications so that I don't miss anything and now my email inbox has become clogged as well. Sound familiar?I have learned a few tips along the way that can help, but I'm always open to more suggestions. Here's some of what I've found:Stop using email alerts. It's not easy breaking the email addiction but we must get used to working inside other applications. Email is not contextual, a group collaboration tool is. Using these tools helps to reduce the volume of email in your inbox and makes you and the people you work with more effective. Getting others to drop the email habit is not so easy however.Use RSS. This is simple but effective and gets most of the information I care about into one place for easier management. The problem with RSS is that it's a bit of a fire hose of information and that information is not weighted with importance. If I read the news headlines in RSS it all starts to look the same after a while. The other problem with RSS is that it's still not available for some of the important applications I use. I've become a huge fan of GrandCentral to manage my phones/voicemail but... no RSS.Try Digsby. I've used a few IM clients that get the job done just fine. But Digsby goes beyond IM and tracks multiple email inboxes, Twitter and Facebook feeds as well. From a communications perspective, Digsby does a pretty good job of aggregating things in one place.Lastly, I recently switched from iGoogle to Netvibes. Netvibes is an incredibly flexible web portal, similar to iGoogle or and allows you to incorporate RSS feeds, entire web pages or your own html all in one place. There are a bunch of widgets available to use as well. Netvibes is the best way I've seen to couple the information together that I care about in a way that's easy to manage.So how are you managing all of these tools and new information? Do you have any comments on my suggestions of have of your own tips to share?

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