In the article about Feed Readers I reviewed how I use Google Reader to select the news sources that I keep track of. Google Reader lets me quickly browse all new articles in one place and select the ones I want to review (by placing a star next to these entries). In 15 to 30 minutes I see all the news relevant to my areas of interest and have a list of starred articles that I”ll process further. The next step is to read and process the listed articles:
- Most will be just read and discarded (by removing the star), just like one does with articles read in newspapers and magazines.
- Some of the articles require more action, like forwarding it to somebody else by email or posting it to social sites like FriendFeed and Twitter. At the end of each article Google Reader places buttons to do these steps with a single click, but the implementation is so poor that it is not worth using them. Instead, click through to the original article and use a URL-shortener like Bit.ly to send the article on.
- Articles that you want to archive can best be bookmarked and organized with one of the bookmarking tools. Doing so enables you to build a library of reference material that you use when writing your own material. As you will see in the review of bookmarking tools in the rest of this article, they are especially useful if you want to share such a reference library with a group (such as co-workers on a project).
The most widely used tool for bookmarking is Delicious, a Yahoo service. Once you are registered, you can install a few buttons to your browser”s toolbar to make the process of bookmarking a page very simple: click a button, pick the category and you are done. Take a look at this 3-minute video to get a feel for the process if you are not familiar with it yet.
Delicious is great at sharing and letting you learn from others. But for the purpose of creating a library of reference material, it has a fatal flaw: it does not let you search in the content of the bookmarked articles. It frequently happens that you try to find back something by some snippet of information you remember having read. With Delicious, you can only find it back if it is in the title of the saved article.
The best available bookmarking tool that I have found is Diigo. In the screenshots that follow I will show how I use Google Reader plus Diigo to build (and share) my knowledge archive (click on a screenshot to see it in more detail):
Here I have an article “starred” (listed for further action) in Google Reader. I click on the title to see the original article.
Hit the “bookmark” button on the toolbar and select “Social Tools” and “Marketing” as tags. I will also check the “Snapshot” box.
The article now shows up in the library that Diigo maintains. The little graphic next to “Snapshot” indicates that I captured a snapshot of the article.
If you check the snapshot, Diigo shows an archived version and an image of the article.
And here you see how one can easily retrieve articles by selecting the categories in which they were stored.
This is the basic functionality that I use day–to–day.
Diigo also enables you to highlight parts of pages you bookmark and to add comments. These highlights stay with the pages. This is particularly useful if you maintain a shared library with a group of collaborators.
For a more detailed overview, take 10 minutes to look at these three videos on the Diigo website.