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Bending Content Buckets, or How I Currently Grab Content Worth Trying to Remember | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Bending Content Buckets, or How I Currently Grab Content Worth Trying to Remember

Finding Something to Read

I’ve been thinking about doing an updated post about how I find stuff on the online for a while. The internet was a lot simpler before I found myself getting throttled by my internet carrier who claims to be giving me fast internet. Back in the day I could open 70–90 sites easily via tabs. Now I’m lucky if 8–10 sites will open up at once. Typically three or four sites will open inside of tabs and the rest of the sites will fail to load. I found myself trying to figure out how I could evolve if I wanted to keep up.

Between internet throttling and having the desire to read more digital content outside I’ve started using rss. Since owning an iPad I’ve been wanting to take the device with me to read stuff anywhere. Up until now I’ve resisted trying to use RSS feedreaders as the experience sucks. But what sucks more is trying to see a couple sites load at the same time at ridiculously slow speeds. I mentioned my change of behavior with the tweet “I feel as though I’m changing how I find/get stuff out on the interwebs every six weeks right now”. After Caleb Kramer whom I haven’t met in person yet RT’d it. Soon after that he emailed me asking if I would be interested in doing a post about it, perhaps him asking a couple other people to share how they find content too. That’s what this post is going to outline. People have tons of feeds in their RSS readers and click once in a while links that they see on Twitter & Facebook. But the thing is that there’s a lot of ways I’m trying to stretch how I find content that I want to learn from.

Caleb’s questions:
1) Why do you filter the web? What are you looking for?
2) What does your daily content routine look like? What times of the day do you do this?
3) What apps and services make up your workflow? How does this look across devices?
4) How do you organize information and translate into value? (blog, personal knowledge, client research, etc.)
5) Finally, what is one of your favorite less-known sources, a ‘hidden gem’? Why?

While I’m not sure who is actually going to be part of this brain dump, as other’s I know respond I’ll add links to the bottom of this page. If those questions seem kind of interesting to you and you have a tool to publish online, feel free to respond.If you do publish something on your own just let me know and I’ll include those urls in the post as time goes by.

Strange but true—Apple controls all the screens that pass content to me.
· iPad
· iPhone
· MacBook Pro

Twitter Times
I don’t think there’s a more valuable site out there than this. It basically pulls in all the links of the people a person is following on Twitter. It’s the first site I check when I wake up and keep an eye on during the day.
· The more people that have tweeted the link, the higher it is on the page.

Tabs inside browsers
Sadly I don’t use my old method that often anymore. Trying to open more than ten sites takes way more time than it used to.

I’m not sure why TweetDeck has so much hate (aside from their poor iPad app) because I find it really helpful dividing content in to small columns. I’m never going to be able to read all the tweets of people I follow but it does give me a pretty good way to organize streams of content.
· Seperate Columns for News, Interesting People, Unfiltered Stream, Google Buzz and Foursquare

APPs on the IPAD
Pulse App
· Displays 20 rows of feeds from websites I’ve chosen

Feeddler Pro
· Pulls in my RSS feeds from Google Reader (1000+ sources)
· I have a number of folders (Sites on DesignNoted, Testing, Updates Often, etc)

· Saving directly to Delicious from a site
· Using packrati.us for tweets, when I tweet a link it’s saved to Delicious automatically

Staring via Twitter
· Saving stuff to read later, if there’s a link it will automatically save to Delicious automatically via packrati.us

RT’ing via Twitter
There’s a couple reasons for this. First is it’s stuff that I think others would be interested in reading, it’s somewhat unique (I try to stay away from stuff that I’ve already seen a couple times), and stuff that I think is valuable.
· Those links also save automatically to Delicious from packrati.us

Why am I doing this?
I try finding content for the same reasons that I publish on the blog. I’m trying to learn and figure things out by being active. Writing helps get ideas down and keeps my head spinning. Finding content is just as challenging. I’m skeptical of the people that push out content because typically it comes down to A. talking about their friends, B. shamelessly ass kissing and/or C. is motivated by a press release. I’m guilty of of sometimes A, and C (though I do mention when I’ve been emailed by a PR firm) but never B. I’d rather be active in how I gather and disseminate information. It allows me to figure out patterns a long time before other people can figure it out.


How a day turns into a week
Anyone that spends time online can find good stuff. But it takes real energy to find something, want to remember it, and come back to it at a later day. Retweeting costs one click, saving to Delicious takes a couple more seconds if a person adds tags, writing about something takes minutes if not hours. My method of filtering takes a couple steps and has a number of different purposes. One thing that has changed for me is that I keep track of how many times someone clicks on a link I push out on Twitter. Bit.ly has added a layer on analytics that I never had before. At times I might only pass on a couple hundred links to a site via Twitter, but seeing the stat compared to the entire number of people using Bit.ly is quite fascinating to know.

Basically I’m filtering sites and posts a couple times to really decipher what is really worth remembering. Those links will eventually find their way to Link Drop which is something I try to publish Friday mornings. Back in the day I used that category as a way to test how to display aggregated content. The process evolved to figuring out what I found was interesting to me. I started looking at themes and how certain ideas would consistently pop up while at other times something that I thought was important would loose steam a week afterwards.

On Sharing

Why am I talking about this?
I’ll blame world’s best–selling book authour Paul Arden. In his book It’s Not How Good You Are, It How Good You Want to Be. On page 30 he mentions something that has stuck since the first time I read it. Do Not Covet Your Ideas—basically the more you put out the more you get back. I don’t rely or like getting reader submission links though I actually find PR kind of interesting. I’ve never made a dollar from advertising on my blog though it does pay very well in other ways. My hard costs are essentially the hours I put in writing and thinking. I find myself having my own mini design conferences every week with the people that I get to meet who typically know me through the blog. I suppose everything is relative in terms of scale and trying to figure out why someone bothers to press the publish button. In the end for me it’s about the ability not having to rely on anyone or algorithm to discover new stuff.

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