How the social evolution has altered my FIR news-gathering process2011-04-08
As the way people use social channels evolves, so do the way I identify content worth sharing.
Neville and I each prepare two stories to report for each episode, which has pretty much been the format since we started in early January 2005. For most of that time, the process of finding news or features worth sharing with the FIR community was pretty basic. I subscribed to a crapload of RSS feeds and pored over them several times each week, flagging stories for consideration.
I have several folders in my news reader of choice, FeedDemon. There’s one dedicated to PR blogs, one to business, one to technology. I have a sort of catch-all folder called “culture and society” that includes blogs and other sources that address the impact of social media and online technology on people and communities. And I have a couple folders that contain a dozen or so feeds from Google News searches of terms like “public relations” and “social networks.”
I would mark the items to consider for FIR, which I could then peruse over on NewGator‘s web-based news reader. (In 2005, FeedDemon was acquired by NewsGator, leading FeedDemon uto synch with NewsGator’s web-based RSS reader.)
As consumer use of RSS readers trailed off, NewsGator decided to shutter its reader site and FeedDemon struck a deal with Google to integrate with Google Reader. I had had a Reader account for a long time but never really used it much. I learned that the way to winnow down the items in my feeds to just those I’d consider for FIR was to share them—that is, mark them for sharing with others. As I delved into the sharing feature, I learned what longtime Google Reader users had known for a long time—you can get a bookmarklet for your browser that lets you share anything you find on the web, not just items in the feeds to which you subscribe.
Around that same time, more and more of the people I followed on Twitter were sending more and more links to good content. This is the often-touted idea of the news finding you. I was also subscribing to some curation efforts, like NetBriefs bulletins and Ragan’s PR Daily. I’d find an item I found interesting, click that bookmarklet, and just like that, the item was added to my list of story possibilities.
Over the course of a week, I was adding up to 30 items to the list. I found myself checking my feeds less and less often.
I haven’t abandoned my feeds. After all, the material shared by people I follow can be great, but it doesn’t guarantee I’ll see everything I find interesting. (This is an important point. The news may find you, but not all the news will—just that which you happen to catch as it scrolls by.) So I still check the feeds at least once a week. I still get good material from the feeds, but the premium I placed on them has definitely diminished.
What this all comes down to is community and curation. My community lets me know about great content while curators filter more good stuff that meets my needs.
How about you? Has your process for identifying news and information changed with the evolution of social sharing and the rise of content curators?