Thing 4 is about gathering information. This covers resources such as Feedly, Pocket, and Zetoc, all of which are ways to manage the various sources from which you get information, help you keep track of relevant articles, posts and other content in your field, and keep you from being overwhelmed by the constant stream of information that bombards you online. I feel as if ‘do as I say, not as I do’ might be the best way to look at my approach to this area.
I teach researchers about RSS feeds in my library’s current awareness course, as well as Zetoc and Feedly, alerts bulletins and journal alerts (Journal TOCs is a favourite for that), and strongly encourage all of them to use some of these tools as a way to keep up to date with discoveries in the field. However, my own approach is somewhat less refined, and I find myself relying on links shared by colleagues, posted on my Twitter feed, or mentioned at conferences or workshops. This obviously means my engagement with material relevant to my work is a little bit erratic, and relies heavily on my professional network to act as a sort of mediator between me and the information – and if they don’t see and share something, I’m unlikely to see it myself!
I have to say that if I were to use any of the tools discussed today, Pocket and Feedly have the most appeal. However, I’d want to make heavy use of Pocket’s tagging feature, and investigate whether there were ways to file things in subcategories and folders, as I know I would start to feel overwhelmed if I had a lot of material simply saved and sitting in Pocket, and would be tempted simply to delete stuff once a lot of saved material started to accumulate. Feedly may be better, because it seems to have a lot of scope for filing things into collections (I think my penchant for categorising and subcategorising and filing things is a clear indication that I was never going to be anything other than a librarian – I just want everything organised and classified as much as possible!) and I think that would suit the way my mind works.
Whatever I chose to use, anything would be preferable to the endless bombardment of emails from various bulletins and mailing lists, which pile up every day at work, and many of which I end up deleting unread. Any tool – such as the ones covered today – that keeps alerts, updates, and useful resources gathered in one place that isn’t my email inbox would be a welcome change for me.