Thu Jan 08 2009
Taming Twitter and RSS in 2009
As I gleam more information through blogs and microblogs there comes a time when the fun wears off and overload sets in.
In 2009, I've decided to tame overload and reinstate fun with some simple rules:
For Twitter (and other microblogging services):
- Follow only folks that have a reasonable number of posts per day. Chronic Twitters (some individuals, but often sources like large blog sites or newspapers) force me to weed through a lot of cruft to come to the juicy information I can use. No one has infinitely interesting things happening all day long.
- Twitter is not email - I find back-and-forth conversation via public twitter replies to be tedious unless one puts a bit of context in their reply. If the reply is interesting in itself, I'll spend the effort to flip to the initial Tweet and try to see what was initially said.
- For chronic Twitters that still do have some interesting morsels, I often stop following them on Twitter, but subscribe to their blog RSS and follow lower traffic there -- RSS is much easier to skim through than Twitter. Garden hose instead of fire hose.
- Don't blindly follow! (good advice in many situations). When someone follows me, I check out their profile, recent Tweets, and number of Tweets per day before jumping in. If a reasonable number of posts are interesting, and they're not Tweeting every moment of their lives, I will follow them too.
- Keep it interesting! Sure, not every tweet someone makes is interesting, but many should be. Try out folks, but don't be afraid to jump off without guilt. I'm personally attracted to Tweets pointing me to resources, interesting sites, or interesting happenings -- in other words, I rely on my social graph to provide interesting content, not noise. I keep this in mind when posting Tweets for others.
- Cut out large noisy RSS feeds even if occasionally interesting. Feeds that produce too much traffic (albeit this traffic can safely be higher than microblogging since it's easier to skim) even if a few morsels are interesting should be tossed because they prevent you from reading the really interesting ones.
We each have a limited amount of attention we can give - these simple rules will keep these services interesting and useful.
What other techniques do people use to handle the growing amount of information coming at them through microblogging (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), location-aware microblogging (e.g. BrightKite) and good old fashion blogging (via RSS)?