More fun with email filters, from GDPR sanity to smarter enterprise news alerts

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed June 1, 2018
It's Friday and enterprise minds are wandering. How about some fun with GDPR spam and PR embargo absurdity, and how to keep it from your inbox? Plus: illustrated tips on personalizing enterprise news alerts and social link notifications.

In The fall of Digg Deeper and the struggle for intelligent news push notifications, I bemoaned the state of smart enterprise news alerts and the disappointment of losing a semi-useful tool.

I wasn't totally right on that - there are a couple of other options, which I've since tested. In the meantime, we've also been deluged by "important update about your privacy" GDPR emails  - a topic Den has addressed in terms of our adventures with Mailchimp, and the comic relief side of GPDR.

I also picked up tips from rabid enterprise curator Jarret Pazahanick, which led me to some useful Google News alerts pointers. These topics all converge into the themes of my diginomica series on productivity, filtering and beating the noise.

Fun with GDPR spam and PR avoidance email filters

Since it's Friday, let's start with the fun stuff. We all have our email irritants; for diginomica scribes, it's the deluge of PR emails, most of which are not personalized to our interests or coverage. The worst are the breathless "under embargo" announcements, which, with rare exceptions, are the equivalent of asking you put on a muzzle to keep a secret about incrementalism. So I tweeted this snark:

Snarky? Yes. But effective. Since I applied that filter, I've enjoyed delightful moments of email sanity.

Diginomica contributor Kurt Marko took it one step further:

Unlike Kurt, I prefer to stash my embargo emails in a well-buried folder rather than a permanent purge. About once a month, I scroll through in case I missed a chance to be the first to report on IBM acquiring Salesforce or Microsoft acquiring Workday. So far, not a single one of those emails has been worthy of the label embargo email.

Julian Delvat asked:

Perfect timing Julien - I've been toying with "we care about your privacy" GDPR filters. I think at least one other person can use this:

Again, with new email filters, before deleting emails, you may want to archive for future review, to make sure you aren't generating false positives.

"Privacy" in the subject header isn't enough for a precise GDPR filter. So it should be "privacy" AND a combination of the other words above, which I pulled from the most desperate common GDPR emails I've received. The "continue receiving" phrase is more of a Twitter joke, but it could work to grab a few that escaped the subject header filter.

I've also used the word "unsubscribe" as a filter, but again, in combination with other words to prevent filtering personal emails that mention the word.

Invest time in filtering and research - one curator's lessons

Filtering and curating enterprise news brings similar challenges. Pazahanick and I both love RSS. In this era of suspicion about algorithms that spoonfeed us, RSS has a fresh relevance, though you have to work at it. Check this from Pazahanick:

Thanks Jon for the mention and the very good article and a big fan of RSS reader (which take time to set up and maintain) but are well worth it and ultimately save me a lot of time in the long run. Recommend for people to spend a few $ as well for the premium versions as often filled with a lot of useful features/functions.

Pazahanick continues:

On a side, once you have the data being pushed to you, you need a plan to consume it. Each day for the past 20 years I have spent the first two hours of the morning reading about my industry, sports, personal finance and investments. Consuming content like this is work, takes time and effort, but will save you even more time in the long run and investing in yourself is something that will always pay dividends as at the end of the day. The more you know about your field, career or industry, the more valuable you will become. I can’t stress the importance having a mindset of being a life longer learner in whatever interests you.

Yep. If Pazahanick can find the time amidst a hectic family and project life, then most of us can. Short term, we're too busy to research and curate. Long term, we're too busy driving off the cliff to realize we should have studied the navigation rather than trust Google to map it. A good curation practice challenges our assumptions and helps us gut check our chosen direction. RSS doesn't matter. You can do this via email, though you might want to create a dedicated email address for consuming and organizing news content.

Pazahanick swears by the paid version of Feedly; I dig the paid version of Newsblur. One cool thing about Feedly is the tuturial on Google News. As I wrote:

Just an update on Jarret Pazahanick, who is an avid Feedly user. Amongst the hundreds of feeds he tracks in Feedly, he has set up Google Alerts, which you can set up inside of Feedly. Pretty nifty: (You can get Google Alerts as RSS currently and port them into any reader, which is how I’ve done it in Newsblur). Note that the Feedly link goes deeper into the problem of getting the right topical push notifications and has some search tips for honing your Google Alerts results.

Google News alerts - handy if you know a few tricks

Hits/misses reader Clive Boulton is up in arms about Google News' horrid redesign, and rightly so. But on the desktop at least, you can still set up handy alerts. Alerts matter because we want things pushed to us. Relying on our pre-occupied friends to share smart things rather than baby pics isn't realistic. Google has a variety of alert options, but I don't like the web alerts - they are too sloppy, and tend to mix in older content.

But you can do News alerts. Do a search in Google and click on "News" results. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see an option to set up an alert. Here's the results I got for "diginomica" and "snark" since we are snarky from time to time:


Of course, you could do this for a more enterprisey mix, such as "diginomica SAP," or, "diginomica Workday Financials" or "diginomica NoSQL" or whatever it is you want to track. As the Feedly Google News alerts tutorial points out, you can get pretty specific. For example, you can search on Oracle HR in this manner:

Oracle AND ("human resources" or "human resource management").

Type into Google News, scroll down the list of results, and create your alert. You may want to adjust some settings. You'll have email delivery by default. I recommend using "News" as the default so you don't generate old web results:


Even though I rail against relying on social media to reliably surface what we need, it's useful to get a push on topics that reach critical mass. This was the role of the now-defunct Digg Deeper. I like this option because it helps you to confidently step away. No, your friends won't surface everything you need, but they're very good at making sure you see the most important breaking/enterprise news (and, alas, the pieces vendor PR folks are flogging).

Beyond Digg Deeper - evaluating Thresholderbot and Nuzzel

Though Digg Deeper is gone, there are two other free services to try. Nuzzel has a free version of social alerts. I had trouble finding it, but you can locate it in your settings after you register (it's free to register; Nuzzel also has a paid version that is targeted for corporate subscriptions. I haven't tested it). Mark Finnern pointed me towards an undergroundish service called Thresholderbot that does the same thing. Each service allows you to pick the amount of friends to share a link before you are notified, as well as maximum notifications per day.

After much trial and error, I settled on four friends as my alerts number for each service. That means four of those I follow have to push a link before I am pinged. I import those email alerts into Newsblur, via Newsblur's handy email newsletter import functionality.

I don't like either one of these services as much as Digg Deeper. For whatever reason I'm getting less signal and more noise. Thresholderbot and Nuzzel alerts also generate different results for me, which is interesting given I've set them up the same way. But they are way better than nothing.

Neither one of these free tools are enterprise grade, but they work pretty well for personal monitoring. If you have enterprise grade news monitoring/alerts tools you like, let me know, I may evaluate a few of them for a follow on piece down the line.



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