Avoiding the information madness

A while ago, a colleague asked how I tracked all the information that's coming in: Twitter, RSS, Facebook, blogs, podcasts,... It's easy to drown in all the information if you want. I won't pretend I have the ultimate strategy, but here's what I do.

Facebook

I'm not on Facebook for a variety of reasons (mainly this), but I don't miss it. So that's one information-source less to deal with.

Twitter

This has been my usage of Twitter:

  • Ignore the hype
  • Check out the hype, follow a handful of people
  • Love it and check it everyday picking up where I left of the day before
  • Start following more people; create lists
  • Whoa, too much! Just check it now and then to pick up anything interesting that was posted that last hour or so. Plus, use it when I write a blog post (self-promotion yay!) So I gave up any hope of keeping up with Twitter. Twitter is like entering a newspaper-shop. There's all sorts of magazines, newspapers, books, comics, etc. And you can't go there everyday and read it all. Just go there when you feel like it and read some stuff, check out any favorites, then move on.

RSS

Since Google Reader was discontinued, I briefly used The Old Reader, but after a while, I switched to Feedly. I can't really remember why I made the switch. Possibly because the Old Reader was experiencing load problems at the time (because thousands of developers were moving from Google Reader to the Old Reader). I hear it no longer has these problems, but in the mean time, I'm happy at Feedly.

I use NextGen Reader on my devices to connect to my Feedly. Great app.

Podcasts 

After following blogs for a while you collect a large amount of blogs to follow and read. Lately, I notice I don't take as much time to read them as I used to. Also, reading blogs is subject to ups and downs based on how busy work is, how busy home is, how I feel, etc.

Podcasts are my new information source. While you can't follow as many podcasts as you do blogs, the good ones provide a wide range of information. My commute is about 45 minutes which is perfect to follow several podcasts throughout the week.

Here's my selection, in no particular order:

  • DotNetRocks: a must-follow, not just about .NET anymore
  • Windows Weekly: mainly, but not only, Microsoft-focused; decent critical journalism
  • Javascript Jabber
  • The Moth: great true stories
  • This American Life: interesting journalism
  • HanselminutesThere are definitely episodes that I skip, but not all too often. Here, again, you have to be able to skip content without feeling bad or getting the feeling you'll be missing life-or-death-crucial stuff.

Must read but have no time 

A final tip is to have a way of setting things aside for later. I use Pocket, but there's also Instapaper, and possibly others. I find it's easier to add stuff than it is to actually read any of it later, but now and then I do take the time to catch up.

Conclusion

It is hard/impossible to keep up with everything in our fastly-evolving world. And that is exactly why you shouldn't try. Just have a steady stream of information via the channels you are most comfortable with. You might miss out on the most minute details, but anything remotely important will be repeated by so many sources, you can't miss out.