All posts in News Curation

The Story of Time Twister

We are on a mission to solve your “No time” problem and here’s how Time Twister became one of the solutions!

Before Time Twister..

Our team members would spend an inordinate amount of time searching for up-to-date news on the latest Economic, Financial and Political developments, which is a key aspect of any research based firm. Every team member at Frontier used to go through several news sources individually for very similar information, which, in retrospect, was not the best use of our time as a team.

The early days..

We set up a system for some team members to browse through a few critical news sources which were then categorized and prioritized. The news was compiled into a newsletter which was then shared via email with the rest of the team. Interestingly, it was initially called “Amal’s Daily News Update”.

Some fine tuning required..

The email newsletter was a hit, and we started introducing it to our close friends and clients. We received great feedback, which helped develop the product to what you see today. Some of the critical changes that were done include:

Expanding our sources – We found out that many of our clients are starved for information and like to see different perspectives on news stories. Hence our Time Twister newsletter provides an exhaustive coverage of the Economic and Financial market related news which includes almost all the English language Sri Lankan news sources. Recently we started monitoring a few key Sinhala and Tamil newspapers and translating them to be included in the following day’s edition of Time Twister.

Early Delivery time – All our time twister news products are ready and waiting in your inbox by 8 a.m. which is one of its most appealing factors for its readers. We even have an “Early Daily Time Twister” which is sent out before 6 a.m. for those clients who prefer to get a head start on the news

Customization – We learnt that different readers have different information needs. Some like it in one long email, others prefer it broken up in different ways, others would like it only when travelling. We cater to all of these, allowing users to select which flavor of Time Twister they like best.

Time Twister Now..

While our news products may have changed and become more diverse since the days of “Amal’s Daily News Update”, our mission to filter out the noise and give you the most important news in a timely and convenient manner is unchanged.

We call it Time Twister because of its core purpose of saving time. But the name is also reflective of how we “twist” work hours, well away from the norm, to bring you Time Twister as early as possible each day.

‘Science’ (you can call it pseudo-science if you like), has it that human beings function best at different times and, for some, these times are not the usual working hours.

There are what you call Larks, who are morning people, and Owls, who work best at night and are next to useless in the morning.

Time Twister is a product where Larks and Owls make best use of their work-time differences to add value to clients.

Time Twister in numbers..

8 Time Twister team members ensure that you get the news you require, delivered to you 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

1 of them stays up late to capture comments on equity forum discussions, 2 others are up as early as 4.00 a.m. to get the basic version of Time Twister ready, and 2 others are ready at the considerably less peculiar time of 6.00 a.m. for a final source check and update. To ensure that we can overcome any hiccups, we even have 1 person acting as the ‘back-up’! We also have 2 additional team members taking up duty during the weekend to give the rest of the team a well-deserved break.

Looking to the future….

The good news is that we’ll keep improving, taking feedback from team members, clients and friends. Feel free to send us an email or give us a call if you have any suggestions.

Top Sources for Updates on Rio 2016

Rio 2016 will commence from the 5th of August, and given the need to be up-to-date with the latest news on this major event, we decided to give you a few of the top sources to stay ahead of the game!

Although there are plenty of News/sports websites which have dedicated websites/tabs for the Olympics 2016, we have selected a few sources which provide updates via email, social media and podcasts, to stay up-to-date without going out of your way.

Email based updates

If you just want the highlights, then what you’re looking for are email updates! These provide regular round-ups of all the news you need to know. Here are our favorites:

BuzzFeedRio Roundup Newsletter

“Rio Roundup is the best and easiest way to keep abreast of everything that’s going on down in Brazil. It’s all of BuzzFeed’s best Olympic coverage in one place — right in your inbox” – Source: BuzzFeed Website

So here’s what we liked:

  • Sent Daily
  • Easy registration, with only email address to be entered
  • Covers the biggest stories, most powerful photos and fun buzz
  • On-the-ground coverage from BuzzFeed staffers in Brazil
  • Links to watch video coverage and highlights
  • Good categorization with embedded pictures

And here’s what we didn’t like:

  • Format can improve, with fonts and links
  • Excerpts are too short and clicking links is definitely needed.
  • Can be a bit too much “fun buzz”, at least for the initial updates. (This would be negative only if the lighter side of news is not important)

 

FansidedRio 2016 Newsletter

“The concept is simple. Subscribe to your favorite topics (sports or entertainment) and then sit back while FanSided’s army of editors hand-pick the previous day’s best headlines and deliver them straight to your inbox every morning. Your topics. Your news. Your inbox. FanSided Daily” – Source: Fansided website

So here’s what we liked:

  • Sent Daily
  • Easy registration, with only email address to be entered
  • FanSided’s editors hand-pick the previous day’s best headlines
  • Can customize by changing preferences initially or along the way, i.e. can include specific teams or specific sports by a link sent within the email
  • Nice simple format

And here’s what we didn’t like:

  • Very few stories were sent (Only 5) in the initial updates, so we’re not sure if the coverage will be comprehensive and sufficient
  • Excerpts are too short and clicking links is definitely needed.

 

BBCOlympics newsletter

“We’ve revamped the BBC Sport newsletter to help you stay across all the best action from Rio. We’ll curate the best of the overnight action. The newsletter will have everything you need to know about the last 24 hours in Rio, plus some great moments to enjoy with a morning cup of coffee.” – Source: BBC website

So here’s what we liked:

  • Sent Daily
  • Covers the highlights, the funnies, the news and features

And here’s what we didn’t like:

  • Relatively long subscription process which requires you to register with BBC and then subscribe.

Social media based updates

If you prefer to be served up-to-the-minute updates on your favorite games, here are some social media sites to help you out, ranked according to our preferences. They will serve as an indirect source when logging into your favorite social media platform or can be used as an easier way to get all the news in one place.

By temporarily “following” and “liking” these pages, it will enable all updates to be viewed from your own social media profiles and a combination of 2-3 of these accounts should give you sufficient coverage of this world event.

Rio 2016Twitter & Facebook

The official page of Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. (There is an official Instagram account as well, if you prefer pictures to words).

These provide unbiased and frequent updates on the event on both Twitter and Facebook with a mix of genuine news headlines and stories to read leisurely.

 

Sports Illustrated OlympicsTwitter & Facebook & Podcasts

These are the dedicated pages and accounts for the famous sports magazine “Sports Illustrated”.

It provides good coverage and frequent updates on both Twitter and Facebook, although it can be a bit US-Centric.

The podcasts seem very comprehensive, as they promise to cover every sport. However, they can be just a little long (each update is almost an hour or more) – perfect for those long commutes home!

 

OlympicsTwitter & Facebook

This is the official page and account of the Olympic committee, hence it can contain news on future Olympics and even the governance side of the Olympics (which is not exactly the need at this time).

It provides frequent updates on both Twitter and Facebook and there are a few updates on the previous Olympic games which are quite interesting.

 

NBC OlympicsTwitter & Facebook

NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032.

They provide frequent updates on both Twitter and Facebook, but can be a bit US-Centric as well.

Top 3 places for your Global News fix

The news, defined in the Oxford dictionary as “Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events”, is an ever-changing landscape, featuring stories from a vast array of fields. In this light, those of you who are familiar with Frontier and its Global Curated News Daily (our curated global news product) would know that we do not cover many of these fields – such as politics, general business developments and technology, to name a few. We choose instead to report on global economics that we feel is specifically relevant to the Sri Lankan Economy.

However, we realize that these other areas of news may be of interest at an individual level. Therefore, we have scoured the web to find the best email briefings that cater to these areas, compiled by various global news providers. Here are our thoughts on our top 3 choices:

Quartz Daily Brief – Asia Edition

The Quartz Daily Brief is a diverse collection of global news from a variety of news sources. Delivered straight to your inbox every morning, it gives a short and concise snapshot of the most important events of the previous day. Quartz itself describes it as “the most important and interesting news from around the world, in your inbox”

So, here’s what we liked:

  • It’s got a lot of headlines – covering news from the US in the west, all the way to Japan in the east. These include topics from macroeconomics and politics to pop culture and science – like we said, diverse.
  • It’s concise – Although it has a lot of headlines, each headline is followed by a short and concise snapshot of the story it relates to, along with a link to the whole story for those who want more.
  • It’s divided into useful sections – Specifically, it’s got 5 sections: ‘What to watch for today’ (the most important news for the day), ‘While you were sleeping’ (the most important events that happened over night), ‘Quartz obsession interlude’ (In their own words “Our smartest perspective on the global economy right now”), ‘Matters of debate’ (a wide range of opinions on the most important events) and ‘Surprising discoveries’ (Other interesting bits from around the web).

And, here’s what we didn’t like:

  • It can be a little US-Centric at times – But only just a little (We’re reaching here)

If the Asia edition is not doing it for you, they also have an “America” edition and a “Europe & Africa” edition. You can sign up for any one of those here, all you need to do is to enter your email and select the edition you’d like.

Financial Times – Asia Morning Headlines

The esteemed FT.com, known in financial circles as the epitome of global financial news (unverified), has a plethora of email briefings that you can subscribe to – Although, all of them require a registration of some sort. Thankfully, a large majority of their briefings are available to those registered for a free account. Here, we will be reviewing the ‘Asia Morning Headlines’ briefing.

So, here’s what we liked:

  • It’s also a diverse collection of news – Just like the Quartz Daily Brief, the FT email briefing is populated with a diverse range of headlines, except they’re all from Ft.com.
  • It’s also got 5 sections – That seems to be the lucky number for email briefings. Here they’re called ‘Asia Homepage’ (containing a range of news from around Asia), ‘World News’ (containing a range of news from the rest of the world), ‘Markets’ (News related to equity and debt markets), ‘Asia-Pacific News’ (General news from the Asia-pacific region), ‘Asia-Pacific Company News’ (Company specific news from the region)

And here’s what we didn’t like:

  • It’s all from FT.com – Not much diversity there.
  • One-line descriptions under each headline – These force you to click the link for a better picture of what the article entails.

As mentioned above, FT.com has a wide range of email briefings that you can subscribe to (not just the Asia Morning Headlines). You can choose which edition you’d like here. (Remember, you’ll need a free FT.com account to access these. This would probably take you about 2-3 minutes to set up, but it’s not as easy as just giving out your email)

Business Insider – 10 things you need to know before the opening bell – US Edition

As with the Financial Times, BI has a range of email briefings that you can subscribe to, however, they all require you to sign up for an account on the BI website. We’re going to talk about the briefing titled ’10 things you need to know before the opening bell’. Business Insider (BI) describes this briefing as “The world’s top markets news to kick-start your morning”. In our experience, this is true.

So, here’s what we liked:

  • It’s concise – Each one of the stories gives a short paragraph, highlighting the main points of the story. There is also a link attached to each headline that gives you the whole story. Plus, there’s only 10 stories – only the most important stories for the day.
  • It’s fairly diverse – A lot of the news is centered on markets news – macroeconomic and company specific news. Although, the news is from many different markets around the world, so there’s diversity there.

And here’s what we didn’t like:

  • They’re all from BI – Following in the footsteps of the Financial Times, these are all from BI itself. However, many of BI’s articles are themselves summaries of stories from other sources, thus covering a wide range of journalism.
  • There are ads embedded into the email – These sometimes refer to the company that sponsors the newsletter and sometimes it’s just a general advert. However, they are (generally) unobtrusive (just a single line of text in the middle of the email or a single image in the email) and shouldn’t interrupt your reading.

You can subscribe to this one here (Remember to register for the free account first!). It’ll take about 2-3 minutes to set up and you can even choose your newsletters first!

One thing to note, however, is that this newsletter is catered to the US, therefore, it comes in at the start of the American day, that’s the end of the day in Asia. In other words, it may be a little late for some of you.

 

So there you have it. Our top 3 picks for a diverse look into world events. However, if those aren’t really what you’re looking for, here are the runner-ups:

  • TheSkimm – Humorous and concise, it covers stories from around the world. Like Quartz’s Daily Brief, this summarizes news from a variety of global news providers, providing the link to the whole story. All this is provided in a morning email that you easily skim (get it?) through. However, the news does tend to be very US-centric.
    TheSkimm sets itself apart by first giving you a one-line description of the story, followed by a more detailed description. It ends the skim by telling you what was decided and what that decision means. Therefore, even if it’s the first time you’re hearing about this story, you already know all there is to know about it. It’s the whole story in just a few words. Sign up here, just submit your email and you’re all set.
  • UBS Daily Roundup – A daily email from UBS securities research. This one is much like theskimm, providing a funny and short view on global economics (only economics). Though it does have an equally humorous audio reading of its headlines, which can be accessed from a link in every email (requires the audio file to be downloaded). Sign up here, this one’s a bit more tedious to set up than theskimm – click the button that says “Register for daily emails”, fill out your details on the webpage provided, accept their terms of use and privacy statement and click “Submit”.

The Story of the Time Twister

From “Amal’s Daily News Update” to a time saver for everyone

Given how critical it is to be fully informed, before the Time Twister, every team member at Frontier went through several news sources individually, for very similar information, which in retrospect was not the best use of our time as a team.

Looking for something better, we set up a system for some team members to browse through a few critical sources of news and then disseminate it among the rest. Interestingly it was called “Amal’s Daily News Update”

This worked out well and we started introducing this to our close acquaintances and clients. Great feedback was received and incorporated in the Daily most of you see today. This has included expanding the sources we go through significantly, monitoring the Sinhala press, having a much earlier timing, using different formats and adding specific sector based newsletters.

We learnt that different readers have different information needs. Some like it in one long email, others broken up in different ways. Some only want certain types of news, others would like a PDF attached, and some would like the daily only when travelling. We cater to all this.

We are on a mission to save time.

We will filter out the noise, so you hear what’s important to you, and deliver it in a way that works best for you.

 

Amal’s Daily News Update

Frontier has a a curated email news product, which helps a reader ‘fly through’ all key local news. It started off as an internal daily news update within Frontier, known as ‘Amal’s Daily News Update’ , as early version of which is displayed here. This covered only a few main sources and was very much less comprehensive than what we have now.
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Customized News Summary                                                                                              9-May-14
 
Essential – A category
 
Politics
 
Provincial council elections are important: TNS Lanka countrywide poll in LMD
The May issue of LMD reports on a nationwide survey carried out by TNS Lanka on the public’s perceptions of local elections, with the recently-concluded provincial council elections under the microscope.
“In the latest LMD-TNS Lanka survey, nearly seven out of 10 respondents confirm a belief that local provincial council elections are very important, with only 20% failing to accept this premise while another 11% are simply ‘unsure’ as to whether it is a worthwhile endeavour,” the pioneering business magazine reports.
http://www.ft.lk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/BUP_DFT_DFT-1_02-LRG.jpg


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Economics
 
WB supports urban services improvement with $ 147 m support
The World Bank said yesterday it approved a credit of $147 million to help rehabilitate basic urban services and improve liveability in two major cities beyond Colombo – Kandy and Galle city regions.
The project seeks to produce a more spatially balanced distribution of economic opportunities, while at the same time reducing congestion in the capital and improving overall liveability.
These improvements will enhance liveability for local residents and reduce congestion for commuters employed in the city. The project will also reduce flooding in Galle and create more public spaces to improve the quality of life for residents.

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India’s Adfactors PR expands to Sri Lanka
Adfactors PR, an India based public relations firm that has a strong focus in financial and corporate communications has set up an office in Sri Lanka.
“As a multi-speciality firm with expertise in sectors such as banking and financial services, infrastructure, transportation, energy and natural resources, we will be able to provide expert counsel to Sri Lankan, Indian and multinational businesses operating in this beautiful island nation.”

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Stocks
 
Bourse rise to near 11-month closing high
Stocks rose on Thursday to a near 11-month closing high as foreign inflows and a lower interest rate regime helped boost sentiment, but the lack of credit growth has raised concerns over earnings of listed companies, stockbrokers said.
“We see retail investors coming into the market due to the current lower interest rates and activating their inactive accounts,” a stockbroker said on condition of anonymity.
“But lower credit growth has raised questions over growth and earnings. Still the consumer spending is low and that is why we don’t see companies borrowing and expanding.”
Some traders are speculating about another reduction in the Central Bank’s key interest rates if credit growth remains sluggish.

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Esssential for Anlaysts
 
CPC in JV with Malaysian firm for Rs. 1 b lubricant plant
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is to form a joint venture with Malaysia’s Hyrax Oil to set up a lubricant blending plant with an investment of $ 9 million.
The venture will cater to the growing local market as well as to the export market. A proposal to this effect submitted by Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa was approved by Cabinet this week.

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Dipped Products Group remains resilient in face of difficult year
The Hayleys Group subsidiary, Dipped Products, has recorded a consolidated turnover of Rs. 23 b in the financial year ending 31 March 2014.
In a statement the Company said despite numerous challenges encountered during the year – including the forced closure of the latex glove manufacturing factory at Rathupaswala, since 30 July 2013 – DPL sustained its revenue base with a marginal 2.4% decline in turnover.
Group Profit Before Tax (PBT) for the reporting period declined by 29% to Rs. 1.5 b, in comparison with Rs. 2.2 b in the previous financial year. Contribution to PBT from the Hand Protection sector was Rs. 910 m, compared to Rs. 1.3 b in 2012/13, thus recording a decline of 32%.
The reduction is directly attributable to the losses in production at Rathupaswala manufacturing facility. Contribution from Plantations to PBT witnessed a reduction of 20%, declining from Rs. 928 m in the previous financial year to Rs. 747 m during the reporting period, due largely to the combined effects of adverse weather and wage increase.
Group Profit After Tax (PAT) declined by 35% to Rs. 1.2 b down from Rs.1.8 b in the previous financial year.

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SLT floats property management subsidiary to realise full value
SLT floated this new subsidiary to focus on property management in order to streamline and maximise the utilisation of the group’s extensive property portfolio scattered island wide, including in all the main cities in Sri Lanka.
The main focus of SLT PML is to develop SLT’s own properties through joint ventures and partnerships. The company will also look at opportunities available to lease/hire its facilities/venues to different parties for different purposes such as trainings, seminars, workshops, recreational purposes as well as for other business activities. The company website www.sltproperty.lk enables all interested parties easy access to view its wide range of services.
Given the growing demand for property in Sri Lanka, it was strongly felt that such unutilised or under-utilised lands could ideally be channelled towards more lucrative avenues that would not only enhance the value of the property, but also have a positive impact on the SLT Group’s bottom line.

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Talawakelle Plantations, Sri Lanka March net down 60-pct
Profits at Sri Lanka’s Talawakelle Plantations Plc, fell 60 percent to 34 million rupees in the March 2014 quarter from a year earlier as margins on tea estates declined and hydro power revenues fell, interim accounts showed.
Revenues rose 2 percent to 1.0 billion rupees in the March quarter from a year earlier and cost of sales rose at a faster 11 percent to 899 million rupees sending gross profits plunging 40 percent to 105 million rupees.

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Useful – B category
 
Politics
 
‘Terrorism took away all the rights of young people; we are restoring all of them’: President tweets
“Terrorism took away all the rights of young people. We are restoring all of them,” stated President Mahinda Rajapaksa participating in a Twitter Q & A session yesterday.
Commenting on steps taken by the Government to get youth involved in the decision making process, he tweeted: “Youth Parliament is one. When I make the country’s budget, I consult youth and women. My Government has a large number of young MPs. Also, there are many in other elected political bodies.”

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Economics
 
Secondary bond market activity moderates as liquidity dries up
The surplus liquidity in money markets on an overnight basis remained low at Rs. 4.87 billion yesterday from its one month low of Rs. 2.24 billion recorded on Wednesday while the total amount was deposited at CBSL’s Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) of 6.50% as the Open Market Operations (OMO) department of Central Bank continued to refrain from conducting any OMO auctions for a third consecutive day. This led to overnight call money and repo rates increasing further to average at 6.95% and 6.61% respectively.

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Social
 
Sri Lanka Vs. Ireland 2nd ODI – results
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Mothers day activities & deals
 
 

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Findmyfare and American Express partners to reward Cardmembers with super savings
 
Enjoy a holiday in your favourite resort without hesitation or check into the best business hotel in the world, American Express and findmyfare have partnered to offer a fantastic promotion to American Express Cardmembers from 01st to 30th May 2014.
This latest promotion offers a 20% savings on all your international hotel reservations made on findmyfare .com using your American Express Card. The offer is valid for all international accommodation options available on the website.

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Why You Should be Ignoring the News

As an organization that focuses a lot on news, we are big on ignoring it.

Sounds confusing? Well read on.

In today’s age of information overload, we believe knowing what to ignore is the first step in knowing what to know. Sifting through the piles of junk in the form of what passes for ‘news’ today (this includes, surprise, surprise! your Facebook and Twitter feeds) can be an almost overpowering task; something that can completely suck the productivity out of your day. In the words of Inc’s Larry Kim 

 “The news is like the cookie monster. It just doesn’t know when to stop. It has little to no self-control. News, or the farcical stories that pass today for “news”, makes an effort to kidnap every spare moment with its ubiquitous presence while holding productivity ransom.”

The article goes on to lay out a logic of why, exactly, news hurts your productivity;

–          News is aggressive and rude. It’s relentless in seeking attention as it pulls at your shirtsleeves, begging to be noticed on televisions, smartphones, and radios. It whines at you from Twitter, Facebook, your inbox. Anywhere you go, the “news” is sure to follow.

–          It’s possessive like a selfish lover. News refuses to relinquish attention, always asking you to click another article, read the full story, watch the exclusive video reel, just give them one more chance.

–          It really doesn’t change that much. Most news is the same rehashed drivel, tale as old as time.

–          Most news is trivial and doesn’t matter. At. All. Most news so inconsequential that it’s embarrassing. Puppies are pulled out of ice sheets, dancing pigs are rescued from the bacon machine. As far as momentous events that will affect your life, 99.9% of the news is irrelevant filler.

–          It’s insanely unreliable. New research shows that a glass of red wine before bed is good for your health. Bad for your health. Good for your heath again. Bad for your health again. Does not affect your heath at all.

–          It’s bad for your brain. Feed your brain real knowledge, not crummy Chicken McNugget news (Sure, it tastes great as an indulgence, but devouring it every day will only hurt you). Don’t forget GIGO–garbage in, garbage out.

–          Most of it is downright depressing. Yes, terrible things happen in the world, but you already knew that. Filling your head with the negativity offered by many “news” sources will do nothing to benefit you. Having a positive outlook on life is extremely important–your attitude affects your career, life satisfaction, and even your physical health. Don’t let the news rain on your parade (the parade of life).

–          News sites are all about the money. News isn’t created today to enrich your life through learning or keep you up-to-date on current events. Most news sites are covered in ads, begging for clicks. Don’t fall victim.

–          It’s not actionable. The news can keep us awake at night as we wrestle with tragedies, such as the MH370 airplane disappearance. Unfortunately, there’s usually nothing we can do to change such situations. It’s more constructive to focus attention on the things we actually have control over.

–          A lot of it is inaccurate or untrue. In an effort to deliver the latest breaking news, news sites are constantly working to push out as many articles as possible, 24/7. This extremely fast turnaround means most news articles are riddled with inaccuracies. Some contain bold-faced lies, as the need to create something “fresh” overrides the need to make something accurate.

–          No one is judging you for not being up-to-date on current events. Most people are way too caught up in their own lives to care if you know who won the presidential election in Zimbabwe.

–          The news that DOES matter will make itself known. The news that truly matters will get to you eventually -a friend will tell you about it, you’ll see it in the Sunday paper, etc. Don’t stress about missing major events.

–          News is distracting you from what really matters. News makes you give up spare time that you deserve to use for yourself. The sacrifices mount as you surrender a few chapters of the latest New York Times bestseller during your commute, your lunch break, your phone call with an old friend, and, of course, your productivity. The costs of following the “news” add up.

 

Focus today is under attack by distraction. The trick to truly taking advantage of the internet age’s massive information boom, while still maintaining your productivity (and sanity) is to ignore the trash, consistently. And there is a lot of trash out there. At Frontier I, helping our clients do this basically forms the rationale for our business; we help them deal with information, going the extra step of actually searching for and telling them exactly what they need to know.

Your attention is a valuable asset. Don’t waste it on a compulsive urge to get to know every little detail about what happened to that cat who ate a bicycle. Curious to know more? Or interested to know how you as an individual can better manage your information? Leave a comment or just contact us via phone or email (contact details on our website) for some free advice!

Information Overload; Sorting through the clutter

Originally published in The Sunday Times 

Information is power; but how does one harness it?

These days, there is just too much information out there. Information overload is a common problem people with highly valued time have to deal with today. Highly specific news media coverage is time consuming to find and is often missed by popular news websites and sources which tend to primarily report on mainstream stories.

Global news is wide and varied, if you’re in the financial sector for instance and have a particular interest in the global financial world, and every morning will bombard you with information ranging from Japanese banks to US stimulus packages to what’s happening in the EU, not forgetting Africa and other emerging markets. Staying focused amidst all this noise and quickly getting the information you need to start your daily routine can sometimes be a real drag. What’s more, information overload can also be pleasantly distracting, and you could while away the time in an illusion of usefulness looking at various news around the world that you don’t really need to know.

Home page is dead

The advent of social media has contributed to some interesting new developments in the world of information and news. The Home page for instance, has all but been pronounced dead. In 2013, the New York Times lost 80 million home page visitors—half the traffic to the nytimes.com page—in two years. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the NYT has lost readership. Just that people are clicking through to articles directly via links posted up on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Blogging platforms like Medium are illustrative of the new redundancy of the home page. The increasingly popular site sees writers, who would otherwise have had a blog and built up a brand around it, uploading content directly on to it and then generating traffic via social media. News, in other words, was something you used to seek out, now it’s something that seeks you out instead.

According to a Buzzfeed article ‘Facebook, in particular, has opened the spigot, with its outbound links to publishers growing from 62 million to 161 million in 2013. Two years ago, Facebook and Google were equal powers in sending clicks to the BuzzFeed network’s sites. Today Facebook sends 3.5X more traffic’. Social networks are becoming the new home page. In response to new patterns of news consumption, news production is also changing. Sites like Buzzfeed, The Onion and The Huffington Post have perfected a new age ‘formula’ for news composed of quizzes, memes and articles starting with ‘5 things you need to know about’, etc. They are quickly beginning to dominate the world of online news.

Plugging into the Hive Mind

The death of the home page means that simply going to your favourite news website is no longer enough. There are just too many sources out there with a massive diversity of news. And no single site can truly keep you updated on what you need to know.To really get the news that matters to you in this day and age, it is necessary for you to do something called ‘plugging into the hive mind’. The hive mind can be your Facebook news feed, or Twitter feed or just the Internet. Being plugged into a very savvy network of other people in social media, in your field of expertise for instance, would be a fantastic way to start getting relevant information. Knowing what experts in your field read and share will place you in the best position to know what matters as soon as it’s available to know. Twitter lists, I find, are a great way to get started on this.

News or Noise?

Telling the two apart requires you to be fully aware of what exactly you want. And also crucially, you need to know exactly how and where to get what you want. Today information floodgates are truly open. So, be it on social media or standard news websites, how does one filter out the news from the noise?

But thankfully, from apps that help you track topics of interest to human curators that provide you custom newsletters, the Internet is full of solutions for its own deficiency. The problem is, sometimes the vast amount of solutions out there can themselves be daunting to behold. Some solutions may work for you, while others don’t. Finding what thus can itself be a process – an interesting one if you’re even a slight tech/info junkie, but an arduous one if you just want to know what you need to know.

What you can do

There are various apps that try to help. Flipboard is one popular one available on both IOS and Android platforms. It’s got a nice interface and hip looking design that is pretty user friendly and allows you to create and manage ‘magazines’ that individually curates information on various topics. But the topics themselves are limited to what is on offer. Prismatic is another app that offers something similar, curating this time from social media. Numerous other apps like Zite, etc. offer similar services. But unless you are a general consumer of news, and not in need of highly specific information on more obscure topics, these may not be ideal for you. Plus, good apps that offer balanced regional or Sri Lankan news are right now pretty scarce.

Other apps just try to help you to manage your reading better. Apps like Pocket and Instapaper for instance, help you quickly save and tag articles of interest as you browse the Internet, for later reading. I’m a massive fan of Pocket because it also allows you to listen to articles in podcast form as you drive or commute to work. Evernote is also a very useful general purpose productivity app that people also use to sort and arrange their news.

Finally, you can opt for curation. If you’re a part of a firm that needs specific information, you can consider doing this internally, or outsource it to a specialised information curation company that will send you a customised newsletter (the latter is often the less expensive option). Curators need to be savvy and understand your needs very closely while also having expertise and know-how on how to get the best and most relevant information from the web.

Drinking from a Fire Hydrant

Getting information from the net has been compared to ‘taking a drink from a fire hydrant’ by Mitchell Kapor, first chair of the Mozilla Foundation. And I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.

Unless you ‘live’ on the Internet so to speak, and it is virtually an extension of your brain, its nooks and alleyways can sometimes be a pain to navigate. But luckily the very inventiveness that brought you this overwhelming flood of information also seeks to actively provide ways for you to peruse and filter it. You just need to look around until you find a solution that fits.

Frontier i Reviews Curation Systems

Being in information curation we’re pretty enthusiastic about trying out different systems out there to see how they match up against each other and also vs our own preferred modus operandi of using human curators to do the bulk of our work.

In the age of the internet, information overload is a common problem faced by individuals with sophisticated informational needs. Highly specific news and media coverage is time consuming and is often missed by popular news websites and sources, which tend to primarily report on mainstream stories.

Frontier offers bespoke information curation services, provided by human curators. We believe that automated systems and algorithms can only do so much in terms of truly customized information.

Here’s a review of different systems we found and thought about, and here’s a study of some other players who offer more customized services.

What Does Frontier I Have in Common with Savile Row?

Frontier i likes to think of itself as an entity that not simply caters to clients’ informational needs, but an entity that actively strives to make client lives more efficient and productive. Think about it, smart, creative people function best when they can give their intelligence and creativity full reign. But numerous mundane, everyday tasks get in the way of this. You need to go do your laundry, go pick up your kids from school or go have lunch. Except in the case of the latter, everything else is something that you could possibly get someone else to do for you.

At Frontier we realize that a key need that busy people in the information age need is just that, information. Obtaining this information though can be a tough thing to do. It can be like fishing in a large lake for just a specific kind of fish from among a thousand different varieties. Today there is just too much information out there, and parsing exactly what you will need from the irrelevant content out there can be time consuming and seriously interfere with your creative and thought processes.

To imagine that someone else can do this for you is also tough. Someone else can pick up your laundry, sure no problem. Someone else can pick up your kids from school. But can someone really understand exactly what you need to know about what is happening in the world at any given time? To do this that someone will need to either be constantly taking directions from you or literally be inside your head.

Well sure, it can work if one has a personal assistant, someone who understands exactly what you need because you constantly instruct them on it. But this is expensive, and unrealistic. Automated services like RSS feeds, can try to do the job, but they often lack nuance and cannot dig deep into more obscure specialized areas of interest, from sources that are non-mainstream for instance. Information curation firms also exist, they will, for a fee, do you periodic reports on areas of interest. They are often very good. But as we’ve found after lots of looking they also can be very limited.

Most curation firms have fixed coverage universes, they have areas of specialization and rarely move beyond them. They can cover your news needs when it comes to investments you’ve made in Guatemala for instance, but will be hard pressed to throw in coverage of your interest in vintage stamp collecting at the same time.

This niche is what Frontier I’s bespoke information curation services is seeking to fill. We offer curation services to corporates that are only interested in fixed coverage universes as well, but at the higher end when it comes to clients with sophisticated informational needs we have a model that, due to its flexibility and structure, can go all out to create a highly customized personalized news curation services.