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How to boost your search for information – Part 2

(This post takes about 4-5 mins for a relaxed reading)

In Part 1 I’ve recommended a few tips for effective informations search. Here you can find a couple more sugestion that can improve your quest for knowledge.

Books

Book (or ebooks) are still a huge source for information and knowledge. Often, you can easily find many books written on the subject you are interested in. Amazon.com, among other sites, can be a great place to start the search.

On Amazon.com, books are rated by readers which also leave their comments along with a 1 to 5 star rate. Here, you can start with looking at the books which have the highest number of ratings. This means that the books have been read and evaluated by a large number of people. The larger this number, the more reliable is the overall rate of the book. Then you can turn your attention to the books that has the highest number of 5-stars rating. No rocket science until now, right?

Now, here comes the tricky part. If the books are really good, they will have 4 or 5 starts ratings only. However, it often happens that a few readers give them 1 or 2 stars rating. The comments left by those readers can be a tremendous resource to really understand the true value of the book. Detailed and justified critics can bring to your attention details about the book that can really matters and influence your choice on buying it or not. Also, these readers often offer alternatives to the criticized book. This give you the opportunity to explore other sources and know other authors you may have ignored up to now.

Twitter

If you already follow authors or bloggers on their RSS streams, you may think that following them on Twitter is redundant. Well, it is not.

Authors and bloggers tend to use twitter not only to announce their new posts. They also give away links to articles or other blogs they follow. In short, it means that they give you access to the information that shape their thoughts. This is extremely valuable because:

  • It allows you to extend your sources beyond your standard ones
  • You can remove other people “filters” on the information and apply your own
  • You can deepen your understanding about authors and their writings

Conclusions

I have a neverending appetite for information and knowledge. I hope that this couple of posts can help you to refine your searches, add value to your findings and ultimately improve your knowledge. Good Luck.

Question: What can you add to the suggestions given in this post?

How to boost your search for information – Part 1

(This post takes about 4-5 minutes for a relaxed reading)

There are plenty (almost an infinite number) of resources that you can use to boost your knowledge on a specific topic. Focusing on the right media and content is key to avoid being overwhelmed with useless information

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As a young and passionate programmer I was always looking for fresh information to increase my knowledge about the Amiga (do you remember?) hardware structure. However, at that time (around 1985), this task was incredibly time and money consuming.

I read magazines, expensive manuals and I kept mail contact with other guys around Europe who shared my interest.

No wonder, answers to my questions took days or weeks, if not months.

I wish I would have lived that passion today. Now, getting information is no more a problem. It can be free and quick. However, as the amount of available information is immense, the search strategies and filters shall be tuned accordingly.

If you want to take the most out of your search for information and turn it into knowledge, I have some practical tips here:

Documents

Today, everything in the quest for information starts with writing a bunch of words in Google and pressing Enter. I know that. But you can get more focused results just adding a simple extension to your search string. Suppose you are looking for any author’s documents on a specific topic.

A search for pdf’s can be easily done by googling: <author name> <topic> filetype:pdf

You can change “pdf” with “doc” or “ppt” to extend the search.

Believe me, results can be surprising. Incidentally, you can find copyrighted ebooks in pdf format. This is illegal of course, but it just happens.

Videos

Videos can be enormously helpful to actually watch live presentations or demos about one topic. I usually look on Youtube  for leadership gurus and keynotes. Watching them in action is an invaluable supplement to any  doc.

I personally recommend the youtube channel “@google talks”  which contains lots of videos about presentations on leadership and other interesting topics. See also the subchannels “Authors@google” and “leadership@google”.

Blogs

Blogs are another excellent resource. Here authors usually talk about their most uptodate thoughts and experiences. Many times however blogs deliver their highest power in the comments section. Good bloggers engage their audience in great discussions which offer multiple points of view on the post topic. These can be even more interesting than the the blog post itself!

You can visit Michael Hyatt and Tim Ferriss blogs comment section to fully understand what I mean.

In Part 2 I’ll describe a few other tips to get more useful information from currently available media.

Question: What are your tips for searching and getting meaningful content from the web?