More Filtering. No not that kind of filtering.

The concept of using your network to filter content (I don’t mean content filtering I mean filtering content…never mind, just keep reading) is a burgeoning idea. The fact that I spend a huge amount of time online need not be beneficial only to me. Like the spies going into Egypt and reporting of the abundance, I can come back with reports of goodness of all that I see, read and hear. Here are  3 simple ways to filter content for your network:

  1. Use your the “Share Feature” in Google Reader.  By simply clicking the Share button at the bottom of key posts, I filter out on average about 1 out of every 400 posts I read. If more people did this, you’d quickly create an easier entry point for newcomers.
  2. Delicious link Roll. While many have added their links on their blogs, I just added a “mustread” tag. I’ll likely add this tag to about 1 in 10 items I tag. The difference here is that I totally control all my bookmarks but with my Reader, I only control my feeds, not every post. While I subscribe to many folks bookmarks, I think adding a mustread tag would be helpful to those with only a passing interest.
  3. Videos I watch. I just recently noticed VodPod on Susan Carter Morgan’s blog which allows you in the same way you add bookmarks in, you can have a bookmarklet to save videos. I do have a favorites list in youtube but this allows me to gather video from a variety of sources. I’ll likely label about 1 in 5 must see. Video is certainly more of a time investment in most cases so it’s likely more I see will be worthwhile.

One argument that continues to surface is that since we live in a publish then filter world, students quickly get the impression that simply posting content online is good enough. I think Sturgeon’s law is fairly accurate: “90% of everything is crap.” Finding the 10% that is really good takes a lot of time. But again, using the same power that allows us to easily publish crap, we can also easily label quality. Sure, it’s still arbitrary, but overall, it’s a pretty good system.

This is all about the power of tagging. As you can see if you’re reading this on my blog, that I’ve added all three of these to my sidebar. I’m trying my best to filter out what I think the best of the best is for me. I realize their are a number of other ways to filter content for your network.

What did I miss? Do you have some other ideas for filtering content?

Image: Seive by James UK

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  • I love vodpod. It makes it so easy to collect videos and get back to them when I need them. (I have found that vodpod is blocked at school, unlike youtube and others, but I am in discussion with them about it. They are working toward removing any unsavory links that cause the problem.) Thanks for sharing your filtering ideas; we all need them, and I look first to my network to give me the best stuff.

  • I pay David Jakes to call me each night at 9:50pm and give me a 10 minute summary of the news of the day.

    But seriously.

    1) Relieve yourself of guilt. It’s ok not to follow everybody all the time.
    2) All of your suggestions. I try most of them.
    3) Spending considerable time outside of education, then trying to bring that back to what it means for education.

  • Thanks Dean .. reading your post gave me an idea that I just implemented. First, my blog exists for non-webheads too. So, I can’t expect them to do anything with Google Reader or I think it is a blindspot to assume that you are only writing to a tech savvy edublogosphere. The casual passerby or some or your (my) colleagues are “there.” However, I still want to give them exposure to the resources that I have collected in Diigo/ The best way to do this is to have a periodic and automatic blog posts directly from my social bookmarks.

    Having said that, I did realized that too many bookmarks where coming through and that I need to filter better to let only those I feel are “shareable” to get passed to my blog. So, just now I logged into Diigo and found where I could select only certain tags to filter through for my automatic daily blog post. So I created a new tag “blogpost” and only those entries will now be included.

    A bit of twist on your suggestion, but it does limit the links passed to my blog so that my savvy twitterverse and edublogosphere visitors have less eye strain … and my colleages and casual Web-user visitors can still get to the goodies.


  • Filtering is an interesting thing. Take for example Sharing in Google Reader – the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the variation on what types of posts people like – as individual’s it is clear we each have our own personal preferences. I think the sharing feature is definitely great for new people because it exposes them to a wide range of post that are incredibly diverse. Whereas I already subscribe to too many; which makes me less into them or shared links via delicious etc because I will pick them up in my reading — someone will tell in about them if I need them.

    I personally prefer the filtering/personal recommendation that you achieve with twitter.

  • John,

    Your #3 is a real key to eliminate echo chamber. When you talk about outside education, I’m assuming you’re referring to things that still have implications.


    That’s who I think are the target audience for the most part. I also agree about posting links to the blog. If I subscribe to your bookmarks, it’s because the majority I think are important. I like your idea of the “blogpost” tag.


    I’m not sure I agree about the filtering via twitter. It’s much more serendipitous than intentional. That’s okay but again, I think the steps I’m discussing are more for those unfamiliar. For you, twitter is one more filter and you’ve been able to figure out how it works for you. Twitter requires advanced filtering skills in my mind.

  • Dean,
    Perhaps I can give you an answer from “the other side”, as an educator relatively new to read/write web. I have recently been subscribing to a number of educators’ blog posts, and one of the features I enjoy are those bloggers that provide a daily summary of their links – e.g. yourself and Vicki Davis. While I could have added those names to my own network, I am much less likely to browse through that list than I am to explore a small crop of links every day, especially if they come with a good descriptive comment.
    I may click on the odd Google Shared link, but that involves me going to your site rather than picking it up directly on my reader (lazy, aren’t I). And as for the nature of filtering, the difficulty is probably in the balance – too little and you overwhelm with content, too much and we miss exposure to variety. And if I may be picky… who “mustread”? Of all the possible audiences that may visit your blog, can you discriminate the variety of links?
    Thanks for a really useful post – I am considering similar issues a level below, i.e. offering content to my students that I previously filter in a similar way.

  • This post also underscores the importance of how we build our networks. Two things come to mind from <a href=””

    One, Trust. If we gather information from this “publish then filter” model, then, we filter as we chose the nodes in our networks. Determining who/what represents a trusted source becomes and act of filtering.

    Two, intentional diversity. Avoiding the “echo chamber” requires us to establish a network <a href=”” so that the “river” of information remains wide.

  • Rafas,

    Thanks for your perspective, likely the most important in this case. Actually you can subscribe to my shared feeds like anything else. If you click the Read More link at the bottom it takes you to my full shared page that you can subscribe to.

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  • Greetings, I was viewing on yahoo for software that automatically could submit links to diverse social bookmarking sites. When searching I came past a tool called “Bookmarkwiz”. This guys site is bookmarkwiz. com (this software is still in beta stages) I think it looks very attractive. Manually submitting my sites to propeller and digg and others is taking days of my time and hire some freelancers it is not very cheapo aswell. Some automated solution will solve my issue. I’ve seen alot of people here talk regarding socialbookmarking.. what do you guys think? assumably some of you have any experience with software like bookmarkwiz? I think social bookmarking is a fast way to increment traffic and backlinks…

  • Cool looking website, can I ask you what template you are running and how much it costs? I have been using free ones but can’t locate one that I actually like.