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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Processing Pages With Links

Great post by Ken Allan asking - What do you do with a Fan of Links? This is all about what to do when you encounter a page that links to many other possibly interesting pages. This relates to the strategies that I defined for how to process information in the posts Better Memory and Information Radar. However, this is a slightly different twist that I'm sure we all recognize:
  • I'm reading a page with lots of links
  • I know that some of the links are going to be good stuff
and either
  • I don't have time to go read all the pages linked, or
  • I don't want to lose the flow of the original post to go look at the other links.
But, if I don't visit the other pages, then they will not have made it into your virtual Google Memory (as described in Better Memory).

So, what do you do?

The suggestion by Tim on Ken's post is pretty much what I do, but I'm going to modify it slightly:
  • Ctrl+Click on interesting looking links. This opens it in a new tab but keeps focus on the current window (if you've set up your browser that way).
  • Continue to skim-dive-skim the article.
  • When I'm done with the page, I decide if I'm going to spend more time right now or at a later time going through this.
  • If I want to come back, I often will bookmark it with a particular tag that reminds me to look at it again.
  • If it's really important to come back, I set a reminder in my calendar - those are my task lists.
  • If I have more time, right then, I will continue to skim-dive-skim the pages that I've opened and process them.
The key here was to open those pages so that you've got them in your Google memory. They become full-text searchable.

One warning - as most of us are infovores / information addicts and we hold dearly to the myth of keeping up. So, don't be surprised if you quickly accumulate a fairly large list of "read later" tagged items. You will find that you need to really be careful about what you put on that list or you will never read it.

Other Posts in the Series


Leo said...

I have been following this train of thought from Sue's post to Ken's and now yours Tony. One of the dilemmas created by the wonderful invention of hypertext is that no page is truly self-contained. As usual we are presented with the availability of more information than we can actually handle. In practice I find that if I follow links mid-article, I may never get back to finish the original one, so (as a Firefox user) I tend to right-click the links that look interesting to open them in a new tab. That way I can finish the post uninterrupted and then follow up and see what's in my other tabs.

Tony Karrer said...

Leo - well said - No page, thought, idea is self-contained. There's always more. How do you define your boundary? I don't know if I ever quite thought of it that way! Thanks!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tony!

You must thank Sue Waters for that post. It was she who coined the line a fan of links and gave incentive for me to yabber on about what I should do with them.

Thanks for the link to post.

I was already putting Tim's good advice into action - and it IS good advice and yours is too. Hey - these keyboard shortcuts . . . !

You've made me think a bit deeper here though. When you warn "you need to really be careful about what you put on that (read later) list or you will never read it", I then get to thinking about my RSS Reader too! It's the same with sites that look valuable that have been popped into RSS.

499! My total unread posts has reached 499!

I shall have to do some culling :-)

Catchya later

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot Tony Karrer for the info. I'm glad after visiting your blog.