December 18, 2009

My iPhone Data Consumption Workflow

Early in 2008, I tried to illustrate how I go about consuming data online, prioritizing some networks over others, and finding time to get everything accomplished, even as social sites and the sheer quantity of connections proliferated. While that routine has not changed dramatically in the last year-plus, what has changed is that I am consuming much more of this same data while mobile, on my iPhone 3G. Using the iPhone has its benefits, but also, its detractions, the smaller screen, and reduced bandwidth, relative to a hardwired desktop connection, which mean I need to be more selective in what I take in and how I can find the right information.

Last week, after arriving in California, after a week in Paris, France, at LeWeb, followed by 12 hours in the air, I found myself stuck in the airplane, as we taxied, and then waited for other passengers to retrieve their items from their respective overhead bins. This gave me the chance to execute what I see as my new iPhone workflow, aimed to get caught up quickly.

The process is as follows:

1) E-mail

It may not be as sexy as many of our more modern apps, but as I mentioned with my desktop process, everything begins with e-mail. To ignore e-mail outright, which could have the most personal messages, requests, action items, and updates, would be a step backwards. Not only do I still get a lot of information out of e-mail, it is also the repository for many online actions, which could alert me to relevant data elsewhere, such as saved search results, following notifications, etc.

2) my6sense

my6sense surfaces most relevant RSS feeds and tweets

As I follow hundreds of RSS feeds in Google Reader, the service's mobile application, while good, isn't robust enough for me to power through and find the most relevant data to me quickly. my6sense, a client of mine who I advise at Paladin, is built specifically with mobile in mind, and, having watched my own activity for the last few months, has a fantastic idea in terms of what stories are going to be most interesting to me. Now the the company also has mytweetsense, it will also surface relevant tweets that contain links.

Essentially, it's like sifting through the top 1% to 5% of my Google Reader feeds. I know I'll get the other 95% to 99% when I get back to the laptop. If I find items that catch my eye and are worth sharing, I can use my6sense's built-in capability to reshare this content to my downstream social networks.

3) Tweetie

Tweetie Lets Me Peruse Lists, Searches on Multiple Accounts

Tweetie is my default Twitter application both on the desktop (Mac only) and on my iPhone. It lets me review the multiple Twitter accounts I monitor, and quickly track down relevant Tweets, which may or may not contain links. Using Tweetie, I can browse my @replies, thumb through saved searches, or even check in on any of the Twitter lists that I am subscribed to. While I may still prefer RSS over tweets, ignoring Twitter would be as dumb as ignoring e-mail. When I find interesting content, I can either reply or retweet from within the app, from any of my accounts.

4) FriendFeed for iPhone

FriendFeed has many 3rd party client iPhone applications, but no one official iPhone app. In its place is the Web URL:, which offers the same capability of one of my favorite social networks, from lists to prior discussions, search groups, and the ability to take action on any content, including comments and likes.

Using this workflow enables me to power through not just the top content sources, including e-mail, RSS and tweets, but the most relevant ones to me. Relevancy is more important on a screen like the iPhone, and when you only have limited time. While it may be comfortable to sit in front of a laptop for 8 to 16 hours a day (as I tend to do), your thumbs can really only take a good 30 minutes of iPhoning before it seems tedious.

This workflow does not mean to indicate that there are no other good sources of data. On rare occasions, I will hit the Facebook application and pull down messages or see feeds, but only after the first four major items have been hit. Other good news source apps for the iPhone include those from MeeHive, Regator and Techmeme's new mobile page - but none are more tailored for me than the above.

Do you have a workflow, or have you just been scrolling blind?

Disclosure: my6sense is a new Paladin Advisors Group client. I am Managing Director of New Media for Paladin.