The tech / social media news cycle: are we cats chasing laser pointers?


Photo attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heypaul/1832151/

I often feel like the tech / social media news cycle is a bit like watching cats chase a laser pointer around the room.

On the one hand, I feel like I am in a flow of rich information. One the other hand, I feel like a large amount of data I feel compelled to pay attention to because of "the crowd" is focused on the smallest minutiae: incremental feature & network enhancements, new companies that likely won't be around in 3 years, and flamewar 2.0 dialogues about the state of social media personalities.

What to do? I've tried a couple of things:

Filtering:
In the last month, I have started to lean more on delicious feeds from a small network of folks. I'm also starting to participate with Twine more. The last thing I'm doing is paying attention to favorited tweets from the "SuperFilter" personalities, like @Scoble.

Assessing:
I'm also in the process of reassessing information sources I pay attention to, particularly blogs and tech news sites. For any given day's content stream:
• Will this matter in 3 months? In 36?
• What impact does this information have? Feature, product, company, industry, society? (scale~ from small to large)
• Can I use this information, in a practical sense, for my work?
• Am I (or my clients) missing out by not knowing this? (news item X)

p.s.: I discovered some great pics on flickr if you want to explore the intersection of technology and fluffy cuteness:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=cats%20chasing%20laser%20pointers&w=all

What do you think? How are you managing your information stream?

Posted via email from Social Architect

3 comments

  1. Jenna Woodul

    Bill, I appreciate this — especially the questions you use to gauge the focus-worthy content. It’s hard to keep up without significant filters, so I’ve grouped all my Facebook friends and Twitter feeds (with Nambu) to better sort the daily deluge. That way, I pay attention to those I consider personally or professionally helpful. Attention is too precious in any given day to follow all these laser pointers. Numerous people have mentioned to me recently that they’re culling their blog feeds, as “Mark all Read” just happens too often. So far, I’m still scanning those for the folks I know and care about; glad to have opened yours.

  2. Bryan Person

    Bill: I share your ongoing challenge of trying to decide which information/people/feeds/news I should pay attention to, and which I can filter out. As Clay Shirky has said, it’s not information overload that’s the problem; it’s filter failure.

    About 5 days ago I went through a good exercise by slashing the number of RSS feeds I follow. I was able to eliminate about 50% of the “fluff” by being honest with myself; feeds that I seldom (or never read) were axed, as were the nearly all of the shared items from “friends” (some of whose names I don’t even recognize). The result is a much more manageable number of posts to go through each day.

    The second part of the challenge is treating my RSS reader like an e-mail inbox and making sure I *do* check in on it daily–at least my “A list” of feeds.

    As for Twitter, I handle things a little differently. I’ve long since accepted that catching what’s in the stream, when I happen to check it, is is fine with me. I’m monitoring a few search terms, have a similar “top peeps” kind of group in TweetDeck, and then otherwise just read and respond to what’s in front of me.

    It’s not a perfect system–and I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak it–but it’s working for me right now.

  3. redplasticmonkey

    Jenna: Thanks for the comment (and the read!). I’ll give Nambu another look – I haven’t used it in a while.

    Bryan: Thanks for sharing your recent “slashing” experience and how you think about / divide your time between blogs and twitter.

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