Lawyers:
Simplify and Organize Your Online Experience, Part 1

simplify

simplify (Photo credit: MelvinSchlubman)

If you’re reading this blog post, it means that you probably spend a good deal of time online. After all, it’s 2012 and we live in a connected world. And for lawyers, the online world is chock full of useful information that you can use to support your law practice. In fact, it’s a virtual fire hose of information and so the problem then becomes–how do you simplify and streamline your online experience?

Well, the best place to start is to filter and organize the vast amounts of information available. Over the years, I’ve discovered an assortment of useful tools and techniques ideal for this purpose and figured it’d be worthwhile to share some of them with you. Whether you’d like to filter and aggregate relevant content, stay on top of breaking news, save and organize relevant websites, or improve your online travels, there are lots of web-based tools that will help you to get the job done.

This week, for starters, we’ll discuss how to filter, aggregate and locate relevant and interesting content. Then next week, I’ll cover the rest.

Bring relevant content right to your doorstep

First things first–you need an efficient way to bring relevant information to you. That way you don’t have to waste time every day by visiting different websites to locate content of interest.

There are 2 ways to do this. You can either hand pick the content or use tools which aggregate content for you based on your interests. Or, you can do both, which is the method I prefer, since doing both gives you access to the most relevant and interesting content.

To do this, the first step is to subscribe to the RSS feeds of news sites and blogs that you regularly read. To subscribe to RSS feeds, you’ll need to use an RSS feed reader. Google Reader is a popular choice, although I prefer and highly recommend Feedly, for reasons that I explain more fully here.

Once you’ve chosen and RSS feed reader and subscribed to a number of feeds, your RSS feed reader will automatically bring the articles or blog posts directly to you and will update your news feed whenever new content from your chosen sources is published. You can learn all about RSS feeds and how to subscribe to them here.

Another option is to utilize an app, either web-based or tablet-based, that aggregates content that interests you. Many times these apps rely on content to which you subscribe using your RSS feed reader, while also supplementing that content based on your interests and interaction with the app. Additionally, in some cases, the apps even rely on the interests of your social media circles to serve up relevant content. The end result being that these apps offer up a really interesting array of articles and blog posts.

If you frequently use your mobile device for content consumption, Zite is a great tablet app for this purpose. However, if you prefer your laptop instead, my go to web app for content aggregation is Prismatic, a web-based app that I only recently discovered, but which has already become part of my daily routine. Prismatic also recently released a mobile app as well, so you can access the Prismatic content both on your computer and on your mobile device.

Stay on top of the latest news

If you’re like me, then you like to stay on top of the latest trending news stories, even if they’re outside your areas of interest. To do this, I rely on a variety of sources.

When I’m on my laptop, I visit Yahoo New’s “most viewed” page. It pulls content from a variety of news organizations and lists and constantly updates the news stories that are read most often, giving you both current news and sense of the “pulse” of the nation.

It’s easy to stay abreast of the latest news on your mobile device as well. When I’m using my iPhone or iPad, I prefer the Fluent News app, which I describe more fully here. Like Yahoo’s site, Zite provides articles from a variety of sources, thus giving you a well-rounded dose of the latest news.

Finally, I check into Reddit multiple times a day. Reddit is a very popular social news website where readers submit news items and more. Stories appear based on the number of user “upvotes”. There are also sub-reddits which focus on specific topics. So, for example, if you’re a patent lawyer, the cyberlaws sub-reddit might be of interest. In addition to visiting Reddit each day, you can also subscribe to the RSS feeds of the main page or interesting sub-reddits, as explained above. You can learn more about Reddit here.

So that’s it for this week. Take a look at these tools and figure out which ones will work best for you. And then, check back next week, when I’ll discuss ways to organize and categorize your favorite sites. I’ll also suggest tips and apps which will make your online experience safer and simpler. So tune in next week for more!

–Niki Black

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