I was in California this past week at the New Communications Forum. I moderated a panel discussion about managing information overload.
Ron Rassmussen of Know Now and Bob Wyman of PubSub were the panelists, and did a great job delivering lots of excellent insights. I’d like to highlight three points made in the panel discussion. I think you may find some of the information to be in a similar vein with my recent posts here about using tools to spot and track business trends.
Point #1 — There are two types of information that business people tend to look for today. They are very different and require different tools:
- Research: this is information that helps you understand a particular subject — everything you might want to know about it. When you search for research, you may end up with information that is several years old. Tools to find research include search engines such as Google, MSN Search and Yahoo Search.
- Monitoring: this is information about what is happening now, such as mentions of a company’s name on blogs, and also press coverage. With today’s tools and special search engines, monitoring can be done almost in real time. The blogging community has led the way in the development of these new kinds of search sites. Sites to monitor mentions and new references to a company, its products, its executives and so on include sites such as PubSub and Technorati.
Point #2 — Once you have found all this information, what do you do with it? Let’s say, for instance, that you have spent an hour digging up information on the Web. You want to store and manage all that information. You do not want to have to search all over again.
Unfortunately, the tools to store and manage Web information that you already have located and want to keep track of, are in the very earliest stages. Some of the tools available today include free bookmarking services such as Del.icio.us and Furl. Other tools that you can purchase include Onfolio and Optimal Access.
Point #3 — Bob Wyman likened the state of our progress in Web search to the state of email 30 years ago. He suggested looking into the “structured blogging” movement, as a way to make content searches on the Web more relevant and make dealing with information less frustrating for everyone. He explained it this way: when a search engine pulls up information on words you search for, the search engine has no way of knowing how relevant that information is. Say for instance you want to find Aida opera performances on a certain date. You search for “Aida March 14 performance.” You could end up with search results that are a review of Aida or something else completely irrelevant.
Structured blogging is a way to give additional information to the search engines to tell them the context of what is on a page. Ultimately, those who benefit from structured blogging will be anyone searching the Web. We will be able to retrieve the search results that are most relevant to what we need. But in order to get to the point that searches return relevant results, structured blogging commands first have to be used by those publishing Web pages.