Some people (like myself) follow this stuff full time. We’re early adopters and we’ve generally tried something and gotten bored with it by the time the rest of the internet catches on. As a tech blogger, I find that I am often way ahead of my audience in terms of what’s going on. It is only natural, though, and it begs the question: how can people keep up with it all and still have a life?
Technology today is moving at lightning speed. Where the computer used to be the big beige box on your desk and that was what everybody cared about, today the emphasis is on sleeker designs, smaller form factors, even mobile. Where the internet website used to represent endless possibility online, today we’re all talking about Twitter, Facebook and all the various forms of social media. Every day sees the launch of another social media site with some other Web 2.0, made up name. The Internet is NOISY in terms of forward advancement and it can often be frustrating for people to try to get that elusive feeling of being informed.
You are reading this article and that means you’re my audience. Let me speak to you for a moment. Whether you’ve just discovered PCMech or have been a long-time reader, you’re probably here to learn something and stay informed. Now, being that this site has it’s roots in the do-it-yourself crowd, we have a lot of people here who are older than myself (I’m 30), have been around the block, but are not keeping up as much as they would like to.
When I talk about Twitter, perhaps your eyes glaze over. You’re more concerned with fixing some issue with your computer, perhaps. Perhaps you’d like to know more about this stuff but you just get confused every time you try.
One of the balancing acts I deal with all the time on PCMech is keeping this site current by talking about the latest and greatest thing, but without alienating those in my audience who are comfortable with their “old technology” and are still learning things about it.
A Basic Primer on Keeping Up
Let me tell you a little secret: I follow technology full time and, despite that, even I cannot fully keep up with all that is happening in this field. It is just impossible. But, for those of you who would like to be more grooved in, here are a few techniques I can pass on on how to keep up with technology:
- Use RSS. Many, many websites including this one make their articles portable by way of an RSS feed. You can use one of the many freely available news readers (I recommend Google Reader) to monitor RSS feeds. In one sitting, you can scan the headlines and see what is happening. It brings the news to you without you having to go out and find it. When you are on a website you like, look for a link to an RSS/XML feed or perhaps a big orange icon (the standard icon which represents RSS). Click the link and you can subscribe to it in your news reader. This will bring the news to you much like email. Nice and easy.
- Once you’re using RSS, find a few key sites which monitor parts of the industry that you’re interested in and subscribe to their RSS feed. For example, PCMech’s RSS feed will give you an overview of happenings in tech because we cast a wide net.
- Visit Techmeme. If you’re not aware of Techmeme, go there and bookmark it. The entire mission of that site is to aggregate what is hot in tech from across the web. It will also show you sites which are discussing that news. Techmeme is a hot site for keeping up with technology.
- Join Twitter and FriendFeed. Both Twitter and FriendFeed are social media outlets which are heavily used by most in the tech field, including myself. What both sites do is allow you to tap into the “right now” and the power of many. Very often, you will see hot news on these sites way before you see it on other media outlets. You can subscribe to me on Twitter and on FriendFeed, but I highly recommend you find and follow other notable figures in tech blogging including Robert Scoble, Louis Gray, Techcrunch, Duncan Riley, Steve Hodson, and others.
Dealing With Overload
No doubt, if you make a serious effort to keep up with this field and you’re not used to the constant influx of information, you’re quickly going to feel as if it is simply too much information.
It is a common feeling, trust me.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you are simply putting yourself onto the lines of communication for the field. It doesn’t mean you have to monitor all of it. I mean, you have multiple channels on your television and you don’t watch all of them at the same time! So, don’t try to do it online either.
Feel free to be selective about what you read and how often you read it. You control the inflow by your reading habits.