Thursday, November 03, 2011

Queen of the Free

Queen of the free e-book, that is. It's true. If there is a free e-book out there, I'm bound to download it.

I'm one of those people who never seems to have enough information. I research until the last possible minute. And that's a problem. Jill Chivers calls it "drinking from the information fire hydrant". She's identified two kinds of information seeker personalities: the data gatherer and the data analyzer. The gatherers rarely have enough information; the analyzers may not have it all, but often suffer from information overload.

Am I a data gatherer or a data analyzer?

Both, it seems. Which leads me to the next problem: counter-research. Have you noticed that data are like fish on dry land? Flopping about, impossible to catch. Were they always like that? Slippery devils. For every bit of data that says "X", there's another bit that says "Y". Coffee is good for you. Ah, no. It's bad for you. Except on the fifth Thursday of the month, when it's good for you in the morning, but not at night. Sean D'Souza suggests setting an egg timer when you start your research-- no more research when that sand runs out. The data no longer applies, anyway.

Sitting in my Chrome downloads there are four e-book/whitepapers, a report, an mp3, a zip file, and a jpg. Yes, I've listened to the mp3 (a Daniel Pink interview on employee engagement); the zip file has been installed; and the jpg has been shared. The report is an index of technology wages-- that's a keeper. And those four e-books are all on some aspect of social media strategy.

It's positively amazing how much information is out there. Much of it is very useful. Some is well-intended. Some may be perfunctory-- e-books and whitepapers must of course be produced for a successful social media strategy.

Don't get me wrong. I've certainly benefited from many-- if not most-- of those e-books and whitepapers. I'll be writing a few myself, and I hope they'll fall into the useful group and people will download them. Nevertheless, I think it's time to weed my free e-book collection.

By the way, here's a HubSpot article on why e-books are better than whitepapers. And yes, I've already downloaded the free guide to e-book creation. I'll read it while I drink my coffee this afternoon.
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