VA Days: Rethinking web search and virtual assistance

While preparing a 6-minute demo of the way I use and Ubiquity to organize my web research, I had an aha! moment about how I find things on the Web.

You see, the process I outlined for web research is about finding and bookmarking lots of pages, but what I really find useful isn’t compiling a list of individual pages: it’s finding one or two sites — or one or two people — who keep large, up-to-date collections of information. For example, in that search for Government 2.0-related sites, the key resources are a Government 2.0 Best Practices wiki and this Gov 2.0 Resource Center. Both pages are packed with examples.

The first priority in web research, then, is to identify those key resources: lists that compile links to other resources, and bloggers who filter lots of news and post what’s going on. I can review the list and add the bloggers to my Google Reader. Only if these resources have not yet emerged will I find lots of individual pages useful. In essence, what I’m doing is building a network of mavens. I don’t need to know everything myself, but I need to know who would know or where to find information I want.

Along the way, I also discovered Ubiquity goodness. =) It’s made social bookmarking so much easier.

Anyway, here’s a demo of how I find things on the Net:

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  • 1 – well first off, your blog is one of my super-doo resources, so I 100% agree with the idea of locating people that aggregate cool stuff….once in a while I just sit back and ask myself, “how does she do it?” as your blogs look like a full time job.

    2 – for whatever reason the youtube/video thing that plays on how your technique works to harvest your goodies, just plain runs too fast on my computer. I’m not sure why this is exactly this way, i.e., by your design or if it the fault of some server playing it too fast. I would like to get the idea better, so is there a way to slow it down?

    Whatever!, keep up the fabulous work, your blog is well worth the reading and ideas, I’m a return customer!

  • We seem to be thinking similarly, as you describe both person-centric filtering and content-centric search, as I’ve outlined in a blog post on How I stay informed: Reading social media with Facebook, Friendfeed, FeedDemon, Twitter.

    It seems as though adoption of feed technology may be generational, though. The group under age 43 is adopting so much faster than the group over age 43, that there’s a mental shift needed. I guess the oldsters (like me) who try Facebook at least gain some understanding of what it means to follow feeds.