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Almost Cyborg - Plugging Into Tech

Film Matrix: a choice in your life

My low-tech grandpa tells me the story of when he first got his new TV. This electric magic-box could bring information to audiences more vividly than ever before. He could experience the scenery of his favorite story. Imagine it! Catching the first glimpses of places across the entire globe. I'd guess when biological-electrical implants come along they will seem similar to how my grandpa felt with his first magical TV.

At first the new technology will seem almost impossible, but then the newness will fade. I mean, how different will it be from today? Today, information can be streamed to us anywhere, anytime. I have a few friends who have a cell phone attached to their face so often that they might already classify as part machine! All right I guess it would be cool downloading ninja moves straight into our minds (Oh Neo, how envious I am...).

Today information is everywhere. The information flash flood requires us to be connected non-stop. Smart phones hang around like a lonely switchboard operators from the 1960s. No Siri, I don't want to call anyone right now. This information flow fuels our society. The tricky part is learning how to sift through this endless stream of data and narrow it down to discover what's important. Advances in technology can help you harness the power of this flood of information. I don't have a biological implant to offer but we're getting close!

In this article, I'll offer you tools that allow you to consume so much information that someone may (probably not) classify you as (almost) cyborg.

 

 

Summary of This Article's Tips

  • Use Mental Notes to increase your ability to learn.
  • Use RSS feeds to massively increase the information you can sift through.
  • Turn RSS feeds and Interesting Blog Posts into audio to listen to them anywhere.
  • Newsletters, podcasts, YouTube, and RSS feeds are great sources of information.
  • Google Alerts allows you to track developments in critical interest areas.
  • Once you've learned it, review it using MemCards.

 

Overall, we want to find high quality information while ignoring the superfluous infinity of the web.

RSS Feeds - Find the Best, and Feed it through Your Reader

I personally use Feedly for an RSS reader. This is how I use it. First, I determine the topic that I want to learn, say entrepreneurship. Then I do a Google search to find what everyone claims are the best blogs ("Best Start-up Blogs", "Best Entrepreneurship blogs 2013" ...etc.). Specifically, I'm looking for suggestions by a few distinguished sites (such as Forbes, or entrepreneur.com). I'll go through and collect a list of these promising websites and put them all into my Feedly feed (try saying that 10 times fast). That's my starting place.

Each day, I do a quick read over the titles to find the articles I like. As I read, I mark the articles I want to read and save them to read at my leisure. As I skim/read articles, I also track which blogs are giving me information that I value. I'll have a spreadsheet open to the side, where I can put a tick mark next to blogs that offer me good information. Each month, I'll do a clean-up of my most active RSS feeds. Specifically, I delete blogs that haven't given me worthwhile articles and I may add blogs that might be worthwhile. This allows my RSS feed to always be improving. Try adding a little of Speed Reading to the mix, and I'd say you're on the way to peak learning.

RSS into Audio

Here's a little extra for the other audio-enthusiasts like me. If you want to take the RSS feed one step further, you can actually take your favorite articles from Feedly then use a text-to-audio editor to record your own audio articles. This allows you to play the articles from Feedly similar to how you would play a podcast or audio book. Furthermore, this can work if you're memorizing while you listen as I describe below. Ivona was the most impressive reader I found (I'm not affiliated). It includes a feature where you can convert RSS feeds into audio.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is an incredible tool. You can schedule Google Alerts to go look for articles with certain search parameters. Then Google will send that information to your email. Starting out, I wasn't sure what to look for. You don't want to overload your inbox with spam from mediocre sites. Instead, try focusing your alerts on certain blogs, certain authors, or narrow topics. Once you've used your RSS feeds to narrow your subject down to a few thought leaders you want to follow, try adding their names and blogs into Google Alerts.

You can also use your list of interesting articles in your RSS feed to find the narrow topics that seem to be coming up over and over again. These topics will change as your interests change, so take a periodic look at your Google Alerts. TalkWalker and Outlook are alternative RSS feeds that you may want to take a look at.

Newsletters

Pick a handful of high quality newsletters to subscribe to and cancel the subscriptions to the ones you don't enjoy. As you use your RSS reader and find the blogs you enjoy, visit their sites. Oftentimes they offer subscriptions to newsletters. Why not sign up for them? People who follow a blog's newsletters sometimes also get premium content.

Podcasts

If you're looking for good podcasts (or radio shows), try checking out Sticher's podcast top 100. They have a general top 100 or 15 different categories, each with its own top 100.

  • http://www.stitcher.com/stitcher-list/
  • Itunes also provides podcast recommendations, although I'm not the biggest fan of how they organize their site.
  • Here's a tip I picked up from LifeHacker.com. If you want to search for podcasts in search engines type in: inurl:podcast "Business". In place of "business" add in your search term. This will search website podcasts for certain keywords.

 

Try listening and memorizing as you go. I've found mental notes are one of my indispensable life tools. I especially enjoy listening to information and taking mental notes using memory mnemonics. This works for audio books, written books, coursework or pretty much anything you'd want to take notes over. Here's an article that will help you get started (Mental Notes).

YouTube

Search for media that you're interested in on YouTube and try subscribing to a few YouTube channels. The link below offers the best of YouTube's videos. Find a category you like and subscribe to a channel, here. You can also organize subscriptions into collections. Here's a tutorial. This allows you to group similar subscriptions together. Finally, try setting-up your YouTube Feed to go straight into your RSS (click here for instructions). This neat tip saves you time checking numerous feeds.

Spaced Repetition

All the above information taught you how to assimilate massive amounts of information quickly. What do you do after you've read all those articles, listened to those podcasts, and learned as much information as you can? After that, it's simple: Spaced Repetition. You take the information you've learned and review it at 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, and double the periods after that. This simple practice of reviewing allows you to exponentially grow the information you retain until the end of your life. This powerful concept will revolutionize your learning if you take hold of it. In order to implement this into your life, try MemCards as a free resource to keep you on track.

Summary of This Article's Tips

  • Use Mental Notes to increase your ability to learn.
  • Use RSS feeds to massively increase the information you can sift through.
  • Turn RSS feeds and Interesting Blog Posts into audio to listen to them anywhere.
  • Newsletters, podcasts, YouTube, and RSS feeds are great sources of information.
  • Google Alerts allows you to track developments in critical interest areas.
  • Once you've learned it, review it using MemCards.

That concludes my post for today. Send more tips to plug into technology to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The next article in this series will discuss how to capture inspiration using advanced note taking.

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Article Series: "How to Learn Everything"

 
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