I had a good friend of mine to dinner last Sunday. We met at university, while I studied Music he was studying social communication, it is to him I owe having read some Kant and Heidegger. I guess it was time for me to pay back.
He currently works for the Argentine Airport Authority (Policía de Seguridad Aeroportuaria) searching for it’s public perception, terrorist news, smuggling and everything that might be of interest. I felt compelled to ask how he achieved this.
So, he tells me: I usually go to major newspapers pages and start reading around.
I had to ask if he had ever heard of data feeds. Luckily for me he had; this made the following rant easier for me. I brought the ThinkPad to the table and started to show him around sites like technorati and the like. I helped him to set up various searches and feeds into google’s personalized homepage (http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en) so he can access all of them from anywhere (he told me they switch computers at his workplace). Now he has some nice tabs set up there with all the usual searches and headlines from major newspapers in them.
He told me it was a major time saver, around 1 or 2 hours / day, and it only took me one hour to show him the “tricks”.
I can’t say I’m surprised that a government agency doesen’t train it’s people in such fashion. But I have seen similar things on the private sector as well. I think I might start some tips & tricks blog in this regard some time.
I can’t help but wonder what new technologies I’m missing out that could save me some time every day.