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Personal KM: Shifting sands

This article appears in the issue November/December 2012, [Vol 21, Issue 10]


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Much of the inbound information and the management of information between services are done these days on the Web or through Internet-based services. The changes and growth have been mostly beneficial to those of us who consume and store that information, but not all of the changes have been positive.

In the past months, Twitter has altered its guidelines (more like rules to abide by) for developers, and it has shut off access to a variety of services. Twitter has also ended some of its own services that were pure gems for those of us who care about information access. Resources like If This Then That (IFTTT, ifttt.com), can no longer provide IFTTT Twitter services. (See IFTTT article at kmworld.com/Articles/News/News-Analysis/Personal-KM-Pull-%26-push-with-IFTTT-82690.aspx.) Additionally, Twitter is stopping the RSS feeds that made it easy to subscribe to our own or others' favorited tweets or tweets from various accounts. Twitter still is providing JSON (data feeds that need to be scripted to use the information contained within the data strings returned from queries), but they are not as easy to use and don't have ready-made services.

Another loss

Another service that has been mentioned in this column, Findings, has had one of its most valuable resources shut down. Amazon is no longer permitting Findings to go to our Kindle Highlights pages and parse the individual quotes we have highlighted. We no longer have easy access to feeds of them to use to pull easily into our own archives. Findings also was providing our highlights out to others in the service who had not read the book. The publishers don't have agreements that allow Amazon to let Findings continue that practice. As Findings mentioned, its service had become popular enough for Amazon to take notice of it.

So where do those shifts in services leave us? We rely on those services because they have improved our information consumption, as well as our ability to use, reuse, quote and point others to resources. We are left looking for different ways. We are back to working to find inbound information rather than having it easily delivered to us. We are back to using a more manual process to hold on to the quotes, or typing (and mistyping) quotes into our systems, as we did with paper books. It eliminates the ease of quoting from one e-book provider and pointing to the books with easy links to purchase them, along with quotes that could entice others to investigate and perhaps purchase.

Searching for new services

Amazon still is providing full highlights to us, but not already pre-parsed into the distinct quoted highlights. We could write a script (or find someone to do that for us) to accomplish the work that Findings did of parsing each quote and related data into information bites that are easy to hold on to. Apple's iBooks has yet to offer anything like this for anything other than annotations (highlights are not annotations).

Twitter's changes have us looking to other services that offer quips and links to resources that we can readily favorite or bookmark for easy consumption later. Twitter has also taken a hard line with those companies making third-party applications to read the Twitter stream. Most of those third-party services offer great ways to hold on to tweets and ease reading linked items later. Fortunately, the Pinboard (pinboard.in) bookmarking service still follows the links in favorites and pulls them into our bookmarks to read later, as well as use for full-text search to optimize search in the information shared through Twitter.

As the digital information world changes, it sometimes eases our information use and reuse; but other times, the changes are not steps forward. They are bumps in our path to finding information that leads to understanding, which we can share with others, along with pointers to our sources. Part of our role is to understand the ecosystem and explain it to others. Sometimes the others haven't fully understood the value they provide to individuals and the much larger whole of humanity.  


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