When You Drink From The Firehose...Guzzle.it!
The definition of drinking from the firehose according to the Urban Dictionary is "being overwhelmed with information, to do something intensely, to be inundated." When drinking from the firehose, the glass is not half full - the glass is not half empty - the glass is just too damn big! We're all drowning in data overload, and need all the help we can get! Guzzle.it is one tool that can cut through the noise.
Remember when we use to complain about the excessive number of emails, blogs and articles we had to contend to on a daily basis. Well, now its multiplied exponentially with the torrential flood of tweets and status updates from Twitter and Facebook. And while some days, it seems to be getting better, most times, it looks like this...
If there's one thing to be learned from social media tools, it's that these services were not made to interact with one another. So consequently the noise levels are excessive and the echo chamber of the social networks only magnifies the problem.
Guzzle.it is one way to filter through some of this clutter. Its a service that allows you to create a personalized start page where you don’t even have to register for an an account, if you choose not to.
To get started, all you have to do is post topics that you want to track on a daily basis. Similar to Google Alerts, your topics should be keywords that are pertinent to what you search for regularly. Then drag things around, add separators and you can even switch a 'topic view' to an 'image view' if that is preferable.
Here is a Guzzle.it start page I set up to track topics that are of consequence to me...
Note I chose "Firehose" as a topic to research all the articles, blogs and whitepapers that have been written about, or contained the word "firehose" in either the title or body of the content. In the case of my 'Social Networking' topic, I selected the 'image' option versus the 'article' option. Also note the timeliness of the search results. The listing for the 'Obituary for Ted Kennedy' in the Social Media column appeared because this search was conducted on August 26, the morning after his death.
While the example above only lists 3 topics, I could have searched for 100s and received hundreds of returned feeds, within seconds. In a traditional search on Google, I would have had to search each topic separately. Traditional methods of tapping into the firehose of information involves collecting sources of information, cutting and pasting them or grouping them manually so that you can see them all on one page. With Guzzle.it, this work is done for you, in a fraction of the time.
While the Google Reader provides you with RSS feeds, when the information flows into your email in-box, you still have to sort through it by topic. The alternative is to set up a feed per topic, but then you're back to cutting and pasting information so it can be viewed in one comprehensive document. That process is more like drinking from the pump than the hose!
"Drinking from the firehose” is a delicate balance of absorbing and processing. Some of us who are proficient at time management do it better than others. But aside from drinking as fast as you can, use the tools like Guzzle.it that are available to you. It just might make the drowning process a little more palatable. And when you think you have drunk deeply enough, don’t lose sight of the fact that the reason for all that laborious research was to take action.