Twitter means reading fewer blogs

Google Reader TrendsLike many people I've spoken with, when I am pouring through my feed reader I tend to "Open in a new Tab" numerous links and full articles. The result after 30 minutes are typically 20+ tabs that I then am planning on culling through for more information and reading. And no doubt the first link or two will send me off into a tangent building some widget, script, application or blog post. And through this I've already burned through much of my available time, and I've barely dented my unread articles. In addition, in the last few months I've been traveling and lacking a typical "schedule" to even set aside these 30 minutes or more.

The easiest advice people typically offer is to "mark all as read" and move along. This works sometimes, but as part of both my enjoyment, and profession, it's necessary for me to track technologies, trends, and various API's and tools.

I know there are various new services to help me manage my feeds. AideRSS looks particularly good, and the Google Reader trends is getting quite advanced on tracking what articles I actually read, search for, and are updated. But that can still be a wash of information. Especially since "large" news is re-posted numerous times. Currently I often just subscribe to Planets as they are a first step in filtering quality posters - but I miss that fringe and non-industry information as well.

My solution has been to instead grab my first cuppa coffee and sit with my twitter reader. The logic is, I've already filtered my twitter list to be primarily only people I in some way value their opinion or thoughts. The people are themselves gathering and selecting information and at some point a bit of knowledge crosses a threshold of "need to share this with the world" and they put up a twitter with a short url. Since the tweets are also limited to 140 characters, I'm not forced to read long posts getting to the point (this post as a case in point).

In general, this has meant I've been able to follow along with a mixture of high-importance events (Chinese Earthquakes), as well as mundane ones (general reviews of movies such as Indy and Juno). I've also felt less compelled to catch up on my feed reader - it's more of the historic archive of longer materials that I should peruse through. In fact, I also often do searches inside my feed reader based on some bit of information from twitter, to find any relevant information from my 'trusted' sources. A kind of archived customized search engine.

While Twitter isn't meant to be a news aggregator - and I don't really want it to be either - it's been serving the need to easily find out the current state of affairs in the morning and throughout the day. It makes me feel more connected with the broader world and that I'm not missing out on key events.

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.