Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How To Follow News And Stories Online Without The Overload

With everything I read being online I have had to become very efficient in the way I manage and interact with news and articles. When you replace your local TV news, the national news, magazines, newspapers, trade publications and everything else with the digital world you can quickly become buried in a mountain of unread stories. The number of applications and website claiming to organize all this can add to your anxiety. News is generated from hundreds of sources around the web and going to each one is impossible.

What can you do? The most important things are organization and non-duplication. You do not need to see the same story in three different locations just because the source publishes to all of them. If you follow my blog you should pick the one source that works for you; not all five.

Lets run through the primary tools I use to consume the news:

1) Twitter - This should be used for your breaking news and important resources that are time sensitive. It is best to keep the number of accounts your follow to under 100. Anymore than that you will be missing news because you can not keep up. Don't forget; just because you are not following them on here does not mean you can not follow them somewhere else. If you are following over 100, try to find some of your less urgent sources and track them another way.

2) RSS Feed Reader) - RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and the feed is usually designated by an icon like this RSS. I have found it to be the number one way to read and organize my information intake. You are able to follow major news websites, blogs, and pretty much any website that posts stories and updates. You can even follow news aggregators like Google News so that you do not have to go to the site directly. Just look for the RSS icon at the bottom of the page you are on to find the feed (this is the one for Top Stories). Keep in mind not to subscribe to any sources you already follow on Twitter. Within any reader you can organize your feeds and I suggest you do so to group subjects and interests. Don't be afraid of clicking the "mark all as read" button; if you have over 500 items to read click the button to get a fresh start. The sooner you realize that you can not read everything the happier and less stressed you will be.

3) Facebook - My news here is my friends and family only. If I like pages I hide them from my news feed to avoid information overload as things I like I already read on Twitter or in Google Reader. If you like getting your news here that is fine of course, but don't also follow it on Twitter or subscribe by RSS. If I find a compelling post or article I want to comment on from another source I can go to that page on Facebook to find the story.

4) Email - It can't be beat for daily digest emails and is an excellent way to control what information you get. You can even have some websites email you the stories instead of subscribing via RSS. Depending on the sources email frequency you can use email for urgent or low priority news like opinion articles. One thing I like to do is to get an email every eight hours from Summify. Summify scans my Twitter, RSS, and Facebook accounts to find the most important stories and is a easy way for me to ensure I do not miss important stories.

5) Buzz - I check it once or twice a day for the comments. The Buzz crowd is a insightful and thorough group of commenters. Most of the stories I would have already seen because 99% of the post are imports from Twitter and blog RSS feeds.

Happy reading! Do you consume news and information in a different way? Let everyone know what works for you in the comments section below. I am always trying new applications, extensions, and websites that claim to be able to organize the information better, but I have not been able to find one that improves on what I do above. Have you?