We used to be destination driven. Which is say, we used to visit sites directly, bookmarking sites that we visited frequently or going straight to the url. RSS changed all that by pushing news out. The services like delicious made the task of bookmarking thousands of interesting links online more manageable, by taking it to the cloud.
Still, we are constantly looking for better ways to reach more information that’s pertinent to our lives – both to enhance our professional life, and to keep us entertained. I still go to a few sites directly both on the web or through my mobile – a few of the mainstream sites where quality and quantity are consistent. Everything else I read online comes to me through one of a number of ways.
For breaking news, one of my favourite sources is BNO News, which also comes with a highly recommended iPhone app that I haven’t had the chance to try out yet. It’s short, it’s to the point, it’s consistently 10-15 minutes ahead of sources like the CNN and BBC. As far as keeping up with fact-based, time-sensitive, large-scale events, this is nothing different than the hourly bulletin we used to get on TV. Only it’s on demand, and takes 10 seconds to scan.
I still spend a significant amount of time scanning through my RSS reader, though I wish there could be something better. The quantity of content I get in a reader is sometimes too overwhelming in quantity and underwhelming in quality, with the number of unread feeds easily surpassing 1,000 if my account is not scanned for a day or two. To keep this under control, I’ve set up a number of folders to organize feeds by topic, which can then be prioritized when reading. I’ve also unsubscribed from a number of high-post sites. Time is limited, either it goes off the radar completely, or I go to the site directly.
What has helped in stemming this tide of content torrent are the various features which allows social sharing, and a couple of short-cuts I take in outsourcing this tiresome hunt for interesting content to other people. GoogleReader – the RSS feed reader of my choice, allows me to see what my contacts and colleagues are reading. I trust them, and I know they have good taste. Therefore, content that they filtered through get my attention.
Some people look to Twitter for solution. Admittedly, Twitter is great at breaking news, passing around viral information and picking up trending topics. It is a great tool for keeping your finger on the pulse that is cyberspace. When it comes to specialty content discovery, however, Twitter is too scattered, noisy, and time-consuming to do that job effectively. Even when I apply some “straining” applications to filter, group, and scan tweets that come my way, the switching time that my brain requires to process random chattering, self-promotion, re-tweeting content from people I don’t know, feeds from their own blogs, from truly interesting links, is just too much to make this exercise worthwhile. Especially when there are easier ways.
Bloggers that I follow closely post links on their blogs that have a high click-through rate. Whether professional or amateur, bloggers arguably spend more time reading than they do writing. So whom better to curate content in their area of interest or specialty than themselves? It is no wonder many have now taken on the role of content curator and distributor, in addition content producers. What used to be quietly embedded links within blog posts have now emerged confidently in the form of daily link-fests.