How Online Reading is Changing and How to Cope

Read the article by Richard McManus via Read, Write, Web.

I have always been an information junkie* and I have very catholic (or maybe pagan) tastes. When I was in high school and college (back before the interwebz) I read newspapers and, when I had the chance, I watched network news. I never got involved deeply, but I wanted to know what was going on.

Usenet and a few newsgroups opened up my world view and connected me with people and news that was broader in scope. alt.callahans and rec.arts.tv.soaps were social media when facebook was not even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.

AOL happened and brought with it the September that never ended and suddenly information came at us in a stream that isn’t just firehose strength, but that has the force of Niagra Falls.

There are so many social networking outlets that, no matter how much you try, no human can keep up. Until we as humans can not only download the content of the world wide web but assimilate it, we are doomed to only have a fraction of what is out there.

All this is why the article by McManus caught my eye and I wanted to hang on to what he said about making choices. Otherwise, I will continue to bury myself in Facebook, twitter, Live Journal, Google groups (which is a pale reminded of Usenet in its glory), an RSS feed that is nearly endless,  etc. If I remember this, I may miss some things, but I will be able to incorporate what I have.

1. Make choices about which social media services best suit you and ignore the rest.

If looking at pretty pictures every day isn’t a requirement, then stop using Pinterest. If you’re not a developer (or someone who follows what developers do), then App.net probably isn’t for you. If you find that Twitter is too distracting and the conversations aren’t satisfying, then (sacre bleu!) drop out of that network.

2. Focus on content that is important to you.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but every one of us has been distracted by content that – if we’re honest with ourselves – we didn’t really need to know. Will you gain anything by reading the latest iPhone 5 rumor? That 24-page slideshow about a blogger in that other blog? Resist the temptation to click on those links and apply quality control to what you read. Quality is a philosophy driving Evan Williams and his Medium team; and it can just as well be adopted for own personal reading habits.

Topic-based organization of content is easier with these new publishing tools, which is great for readers. You’ll be able to follow topics that interest you – and disregard others. It is of course good to be eclectic and open to new things, but topical browsing helps focus your reading.

*Generally, my news interests involve people and some would say I’m more interested in gossip and being nosy than in “real” news, but that is just the way I am.

crossposted to Joak

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