How I Use The Gist Dashboard View

I’m in NY all week with a jam packed schedule so I thought it would be a good week to talk a little about how I use Gist since I’ll use it every day to help me deal with a shortened daily information routine.  As you probably know, we are investors in Gist and I’m on the board so – while this is fanboy stuff – there are also a few other goals of this post including (a) helping you understand the promise of Gist, (b) enticing you to give it a try, and (c) eliciting feedback from those of you that have given it a try and want more / better / different (e.g. feedback of any kind is good).

I’m going to start with the Dashboard View.  This is the one from yesterday (I grabbed a screen shot before I left for the airport) – I was intending to write this on the plane but my superpower kicked in and I slept most of the way.


In the left hand column you can see the people that I have news on.  If you know my world, you’ll recognize a lot of those names.  They are the people that I have “at least some email contact with.”  If you squint, you can see that I’ve set “Importance” to at least 50 – I find this is the right threshold for me.  I then sort this column by “Name” as my brain likes alphabetical order instead of "most recent” order.  I set the time frame to “Last 48 hours” – that catches things if I don’t check at exactly the same time every day.  Finally, I turn off “tweets” in the dashboard as I find them too noisy.

I then work my way systematically down the list.  I start at the top, scan the center column to see if want to read anything on that person, click on any URL to expand, and then click the check mark to the right of the person’s name when done (to mark “as read” – at which point that person disappears from the dashboard view).  Gist automatically highlights the next name and I repeat.

I usually have between 25 and 50 names in the list – sometimes it gets as high as 100.  I find that this dashboard view gets almost all of the daily news I care about with regard to people I know.  It occasionally misses something – usually a person I care about that doesn’t fit about the “50 importance” threshold so I can quickly and easily change that.  But, for a first pass through what’s going on, this is a super efficient way to start the day.  Max time spent per day – 15 minutes (usually less).

It took me about two weeks of running Gist to get this Dashboard tuned just right.  Whenever someone would pop up that I didn’t care about, I’d click the universal sign for “no more of that” (the big red circle with the line through it – “Stop watching for new items”).  Once I got used to the tuning rhythm, it was trivial to deal with.

If you have Gist installed, give the Dashboard another try and give me feedback on what would make it easier to get up and running with it and using it every day.  If you don’t have Gist running, give it a try

Fanboy out – time for a run down Park Avenue – wave at me if you see me (no, not that Wave).

  • You know I've been using Gist for a while now; your usage model is similar to mine, no big surprise there. I recently discovered how very cool the Gist iPhone app is, and use it there almost as much as on my Mac.

    But what do I want? Themes. I am not a fan of the blue… I've told T.A. & Robert this, so it's on their radar.

    • John,

      What color scheme do you want? We have not heard this from too many, but if others want this, let us know. Do we need colors or do we need cartoon themes and sports team themes…as well?

      • Hey T.A.,

        Simple color schemes would be very welcome. I'm guessing you have 3 – 5 CSS colors that could be swapped out using javascript vars that a user controls, as well as at least one background image that I can see.

        Others might like sports or cartoon themes, but I'm just looking for different colors.

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  • You bring two important aspects in this post:

    1. Multi-pass information processing – this has been a norm in many areas of machine information processing like speech recognition, machine translation where it has to funnel down a huge set of hypotheses to find the relevant ones to process. May be now humans will also adopt similar approach thanks to information overload!

    2. Tuning time of 2 weeks – A machine generally is trained to learn quickly, so that is something that information churning software will have to target as spending that long time is the last thing a user would like to do. Remember, the speech recognition systems that claim "no or very little training" as the differentiator for market adoption.

    • We work pretty hard to keep the "most important" stuff near the top and do that with very little (zero) training. That said, each user has different views (e.g. Brad wanting alphabetical vs. most recent") and depending on their role or network, may want different views (e.g. focused on news vs. tweets, focused on companies vs. people). So the goal is that Gist delivers 80-95% the right results out of the box, but also allows you to tune it in a way that works best for your work style, interest and focus.

  • I have been using the dashboard for a few weeks and am still trying to get configured to be a effective as I want it. Some of the tips you mention above will help me tune it. I think that tips like these would be helpful for first time uses maximize their early experience.

  • Brad –

    Thanks for the post. When I talk to new and first time users, I also mention the tagging feature in Gist that helps users to create instant "groups" of contacts for quick reference. You can then use the dashboard to filter by these grouped users to better arrange contacts.

  • Thanks for answering my tweet Brad!

    I had "Last 7 days" + "Tweets" on and had trouble getting a handle on things. Following your suggestions gives me a manageable list of information to gobble up.

    I began using Gist during the Glue Conference this past summer and am digging it. Keep up the good work guys.

  • So, some tip about this issue are welcome and really sorry if my question is very simple. Thanks in advance
    Thanks again for your help. Your site contain a many useful information.

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  • Thanks for answering my tweet Brad!
    You can then use the dashboard to filter by these grouped users to better arrange contacts.

  • Thanks for answering my tweet Brad!
    You can then use the dashboard to filter by these grouped users to better arrange contacts.

  • Thanks for answering my tweet Brad!
    You can then use the dashboard to filter by these grouped users to better arrange contacts

  • Thanks for answering my tweet Brad!
    You can then use the dashboard to filter by these grouped users to better arrange contacts

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