Sunday, November 04, 2007

Needed: Aggregator for the Universe

The number of ways to communicate with groups and communities is exploding. And, of course, the number of groups and sites to monitor is exploding.

Let's just say you want to keep track of

College Friends
Exchange Defender
Favorite Blog 1
Favorite Blog 2
Favorite Blog 3
Favorite Email List 1
Favorite Email List 2
Favorite Email List 3
Favorite Podcast 1
Favorite Podcast 2
Favorite Podcast 3
A Hobby Group
Microsoft Advisory Committee you sit on
MS Small Biz group
Official SBS Blog
SBS Group Leads
SBS2K Group
Small Biz IT group
Small Biz Thoughts Blog
SMB Managed Service Group
SMB Nation
Susan Bradley's Blog
Your Marketing Consultant
Your own project
Your SBS User Group

Overall, that's more than 30 groups / blogs / projects / "things" to check up on. Some are blogs, so they're 99.9% read only. And some are news groups, which need some attention but not complete attention. A few are your own thing.

Now half of these are going to want the occasional webinar, seminar, Live Meeting, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, webex, whatever.

So that's 45 things to keep track of.

And now comes Groove space.

And RSS feeds.

And Facebooks and linkedin and social networking sites want to suck the remaining minutes of useful time from your life.

Uh . . . did I mention You Tube?

So now we're way over 50 things to keep track of.

Plus you need to keep track of the real news regarding your business and your vendors.


And somewhere along the line we've mixed up the things we need to do (keep track of information and people in our business lives) with all the things we could do.

The business world is a series of inter-locking filters. Being productive and getting ahead involves finding effective filters. No human being can read all the great blogs out there. Or keep up on the news. Or be up on all the latest promotions.

In the world of RSS feeds, we rely on RSS aggregators to pull together just the stuff we want.

In the much bigger picture, we need a "Need Aggregator" to bring us all the juicy bits from a world that grows more complicated all the time.

Pull up a chair, youngins, and remember the early days of the internet.

There was a time when the Domain Name System we use today did not exist. To use a name on the internet (like, you had to download the latest hosts file from InterNic.

Yes. Every machine with a name was in that file.

And FTP hadn't been invented, so you downloaded it by capturing a telnet session. Or just a screen capture if you were within the MERIT network and not using telnet. You can see why that system didn't last.

Then FTP was invented.

And when lots and lots of ftp sites sprang up, we needed a way to track all the stuff on the internet. So Gopher servers sprang up, all of which linked back to the ultimate mother ship at the University of Minnesota.

And then the awesome Scott Yanoff began producing "Yanoff's List," the occasional listing of every resource on the internet. Yes. Every resource on the Internet. Truth be told, it probably had 90% of everything in existence at the time each list was published.

Eventually, when Netscape and the World Wide Web exploded in 1993, it became obvious that the internet was going to grow out of anyone's control very quickly. It was also going to become impossible to "index" manually. So WAIS (on the non-commercial side) and DEC (on the commercial side) started trying to index the world.

And a thousand search engines were born. Most of the early ones (like Yahoo) were really only indexes. True search engines came later.

And a million portals were born. In 1994, one measure of a good web site was how many links it had to other web sites.

After many years, communities developed. True communities. Communities with people who knew each other and cared about one another. Communities with leaders and rules. Communities that added the human element to all this technology. Communities where people could find an "introduction" to whatever the topic is.

Communities where we can all help each other keep track of the latest news, what works and what doesn't, who's doing what, which vendors are good, and so forth.

The tremendous appeal of social networking sites is that you can use them to be your Need Aggregator. But now we see an explosion of social networking sites.


We have too many tools and too many points of contact.

If you have a web site, a blog with RSS feed, a yahoo group, an MSN group, a email distribution list, a monthly podcast, and a monthly webinar . . . someone will ask you if there's a Groove site or a webinar.

Will you ever catch a break? No. Next week there will be a new technology. And next month. And next year.

Think about this from two perspectives:

- You as the producer of information


- You as the consumer of information

In my next post I'll give some thoughts about surviving in this crazy mixed up world.

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