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#215: Cutting Through the Media Clutter

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, January 08, 2010
Updated: Friday, January 08, 2010
This wasn't a specific question but a recurring theme with management consultants: how to quickly scan for current news and emerging trends in media that leaves you both satisfied and educated without the exhaustion and confusion.

There are several ways to aggregate contemporary information online: RSS feeds, newsgroups, Google Alerts, clipping services, newsfeeds, specialty content aggregation sites (usually around a single industry, profession or region), are common examples. Each one is designed for the single purpose user in mind, but there are few applications that format a broad aggregation of current news and trends in a way that lets you scan quickly and make informed selections. We have available ingenious applications for aggregating data but aggregation is only half of the equation in using information. We are missing the part that presents content in a rich format to aid in choosing what to consume.

Consider the supermarket, a great idea to aggregate all types of household food and related items in one location. Now think of how difficult it would be if you had to shop using just written descriptions of the items. We shop for food in a different way than we read aggregated content, by scanning the aisles for items, reading labels, but also using taste, smell, and touch. Now imagine how great it would be to actually see media in its native format rather than reduced to a stream of letters.

Google has improved on simple aggregation in its FastFlip application. FastFlip assembles groups of media content, including some customizable sources, by showing you the actual images of the sources. You can quickly scan, just like in a supermarket, to see what piques your interest. It is now added to my "Check Daily" bookmark, letting me check the newspapers, magazines, business journals and selected other sources in about 20 minutes. As a warning, just like you shouldn't shop when you are hungry, you shouldn’t use FastFlip unless you impose some discipline - it can become addictive.

Tip: Consider the supermarket scenario the next time you present information to a client. How appealing do you think page after page of text is to a client when you could be leaving them with a rich visual feast like in FastFlip? Some clients only read selected parts of your reports because they can be so tiresome. Your findings and recommendations will have more influence if they draw the reader in (note: this tip will make more sense after you experience FastFlip).

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  information management  knowledge assets  learning  presentations  writing 

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