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Web workers are a busy group, and it can be too easy to get buried in our work while rarely surfacing to keep up with the latest news, trends and other information that we should be learning. While I love my RSS reader and check it frequently, RSS readers have limitations. They are best for keeping up with information that you have added to your reader because you know you want to read it. What about all of that other information from sites that you don’t already read?
One of the best ways to find this news and interesting information is by using sites that provide smart ways to aggregate content. In some of these examples, the content is curated by real people, but in others, it’s generated algorithmically in that the posts being linked to or discussed rise to the top. Here are a few of my favorite ways to discover new and relevant content to get you started.
Techmeme is probably the most well-known way to find the hottest tech industry news. It uses a combination of human editorial input and algorithms to find the posts that people are talking about and linking to. My favorite thing about Techmeme is that it has an excerpt of the main story along with links to many of the other bloggers who are discussing the same topic. It’s easy to get a quick understanding of the story, while getting a look at how different people are reacting to the news. These reactions can be particularly fascinating for some of the more controversial stories. I use Techmeme to keep up with the news that all of the rest of the bloggers are discussing so that when I go out with my geeky friends in the evening, I’ll be ready to talk about the latest news.
The Twitter Tim.es
My new favorite content discovery site is The Twitter Tim.es because my personalized page is curated by the people that I choose to follow on Twitter. It takes the links posted by the people you follow and links from friends of friends, and puts them into a newspaper-style layout with the most frequently tweeted links at the top with larger headlines. Since I only follow people on Twitter that I really want to keep up with, the content that appears on my Twitter Tim.es page is highly relevant for me. It usually contains a mix of general technology information and Portland news, which is my perfect mix. You will need to sign into Twitter to create your pages, but as it uses oAuth to authenticate with Twitter you don’t have to give up your Twitter password.
I’ve just started using Lazyfeed, but it shows some real promise. You pick any topic that you want to learn about, and it provides real-time updates on the most recent content in your topic. It has a couple of features that make it particularly useful. First, it is really easy to add or delete topics, which makes it a great way to keep up with a hot topic temporarily (like a product launch) and then delete the topic after the buzz dies down. It also suggests related topics, which can be helpful when you are starting research on something new or to pull in some additional information.
What are your tips for discovering new and relevant content?