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Knowledge management tips. Software recommendations. Miscellaneous thoughts.

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Software for Tracking Information

Why track information?

I love tracking things because I hate forgetting something. And I'm really good at forgetting things.

There's two different types of tracking. I've labeled what I use them for in their descriptions, however, try them and see what you like to use them for.

  1. Capture - Tracking things for me to revisit later
  2. Remember - Tracking things to remember what I've already done

Anyways, here's a list of my favorite tools for tracking information.

Note: If available, links take you directly to my public profile so you can get an example of the tool in action. And you can follow me :)

The Software

Trakt.tv - TV / movie tracking
Usage type: 1,2

I've used trakt.tv to track my TV and movie watching for years.
What I love is that they just make a website and a really solid API.
So I've switched mobile apps over the years but they always have trakt as the backend so I've always been able to have faith in my tv/movie catalogue.
I'm not a fan of rewatching things so it's really valuable to me.
This is the tracking app that fostered such a love of tracking information for me. I've gone back to my trakt history so much to recommend content to people, it's made the (small) effort completely worth it to me.

Goodreads - Book tracking
Usage type: 1,2

Track list of books you want to read, are currently reading (including what page you're on) and have read. The feed shows you what friends are adding to their lists / reviewing which is a great way to get reading ideas. I also love using the yearly reading challenge to easily set a reading goal.

YouTube watch later playlist - Watch it later
Usage type: 1

There are two ways reasons I'll add videos to my watch later queue:

  1. I regularly check my subscription feed and add the ones that seem interesting. I don't want to watch every video by some people but I like to keep them around.
  2. Someone recommends me a video that I can't watch at that moment.

I'll usually sit down with my chromecast, load up a queue of a few videos, and then delete videos off the list after I've viewed them.

Instapaper - Read it later
Usage type: 1

Using to track internet articles to read. Automatically downloads the articles to your phone in reader mode so I've found myself reading instead of browsing random social media feeds when I have downtime. Basically giving me free learning time. After an article is finished, I'll archive it.

Pinboard - Bookmark tracking
Usage type: 2

Pinboard is where I store websites & articles that I expect to share with people or come back to. It let's you add tags to each article so you can easily filter through sites to find the information again. If I really like an article from Instapaper, I will put it in pinboard.

Principles

Here are the general rules I have for selecting tracking software:

  • Catalogue - Data is already supplied
    • Example: With Trakt, I just add a TV show to my watchlist and now anytime I watch a new episode I can easily tap that episode as complete and it tells me the next to watch. I don't have to manually type out information since they already know everything about each show.
  • Reliability - Syncing just works
    • No point in tracking information, if it's not going to always be correct
  • Multi-platform - I can update or use the information from anywhere that makes sense
  • Good UX - Updating information should be fast and feel good to use, otherwise you probably will give up
  • Good UI (nice to have, but UX is more important here)

Here are the rules I give myself for tracking:

  • Time doesn't matter
    • Example: With trakt, certain implementations will ask what time you watched the content. I found it to be far too cumbersome to try to correct this information. Either I watched it long ago and have no idea what a good time estimate is, or I watched it recently and it's unnecessary effort to distinguish the exact hour or day I watched it on.
    • Yes, sometimes I'll end up marking a whole series as watched because I watched it before I started tracking media. But I care more about consistent usage and an accurate history database than I do an accurate timeline.
  • One source of truth
    • You should never have to remember which service has which movie on it. There should only be one service that stores all of your movies. Otherwise, the system falls apart.

Suggestions

If you have any suggestions for software to try out, ways to improve my articles or content you'd like to see from me, write in my Listed guestbook.

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