Technology has reached a point where I am no longer looking for the news. The news finds me.
Over the years, I’ve been active on news groups, instant messaging, e-mails, text and once even CB radio (but we don’t talk about that any more). Now, my Blackberry, and for many of my friends, their iPhones, keeps us connected in ways that requires “connected” to have a new definition.
Connected once meant that you knew what was going on in the world. Later it came to mean that you can be reached by mobile phone. Now it means, at least to me, that I am among the first people to know what is happening in the World. Or at least the part of the World that is important to me.
The World that is important to “me”.
The news is now all about me, my work, my play, my country, my state, my town … all me, all the time. Or it could be you, too.
I primarily use two free tools, Twitter and Viigo to keep my news straight. They couldn’t be more different. Twitter leverages the power of conversation, while Viigo is an information delivery interface.
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging site. Translated into English, individuals develop relationships with others and communicate in 140 characters at a time. It is web browser based and also works well on virtually every web-enabled phone.
Laura Fitton, who has a great Twitter “starter’s guide” on her Pistachio Consulting web site, prefers to call Twitter a “microsharing” site. This is more accurate as you can share information that you are willing to share, and in return receive what others share. You choose to “follow” someone – meaning your see those people’s comments (or updates). Sharing ideas is a great thing. Sharing what you had for breakfast is not. Thus the “unfollow” function can be helpful.
I follow the New York Times, Boston Globe, BBC, a few journalism professors and numerous network and independent news outlets that “tweet” their stories. For example, I see “New York Times: Irony Is Dead. Again. Yeah, Right.” That’s the story, followed by the link to read it. I also follow several network news crews, and even a C-SPAN crew to provide a unique perspective on what is happening right now.
Now come the powerful part of Twitter. Add all the rest of my “friends” who are looking at other sources and re-tweet (or forward) the links/stories/news they find out about. With contacts all around the world, my perspective on technology and news has vastly improved. And better information makes for better decision making.
So, do I really get the news first?
Yes. For better or for worse, I found out about the Sarah Palin turkey interview and Economic Forum details minutes after they happened. With feeds being “tweeted” from local news sources, I can keep tabs on what will affect my family.
Were they ever wrong? Yes, a once or twice, but they were from sources I didn’t feel were very credible. (Then I just unfollow that person). At worst, Twitter is a “head’s up” on breaking news. At best, it’s an edge I’m not willing to give up.
Viigo is a news aggregator for my mobile phone. Viigo lets me view a vast number of news stories from hundreds of sources in minutes. I can specify which sources I want tracked – or even add any web site with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.
Google Reader can do much of the same thing on your desktop or most mobile phones. How often you ask it to update become crucial. For example, if your news updates every 3 hours, news could break at noon, but you won’t find out until 3.
Combining sources become an efficient way to stay informed. The mobile and knowledge economies are opening numerous opportunities. There is a degree of trust management and sanity needed here. Also, consider how you want yourself perceived in a community like Twitter.
There are some who sit on the side, and that’s okay. Especially until you see how it works. Then you can come and play with us!
Wayne Kurtzman is a senior marketing analyst who loves the shiny toys of technology and online communities. He has led knowledge management and web analytics practices for startups and larger companies including Intel. Wayne also is active at the international level of Destination ImagiNation, a not-for-profit organization that fosters teamwork, innovation and creative problem solving skills in students from kindergarten through college.