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The Television's Natural User Interface

Keeping Up With The News

Most of my friends in the space regularly ask how stay on top of the news.  What am I reading?  Where do I find the time?  The real answer is that I don't read as much as they think and I find the media that meets my time demands.  

As a rule, I have found that social and mobile media are driven by a number of trends and trend makers.  Following these trends requires far less work that one would expect.  If you want to know about the next big thing, don't spend too much time focusing on advertising industry or the clueless pundits - focus on the converging trends and follow that momentum.

For example, consumer and enterprise technology has a huge impact on user and marketer behavior.  This doesn't mean that I need to read every post on Engadget.  Many people also believe that it's important to have a wide perspective on in-market activity from others in their space, and read Mashable religiously.  This also isn't necessary.  In fact, it is rarely necessary to read every article on any blog.  Find the bigger story and track the trends creating that future vision.

My Approach

SCHEDULE: The right mix of media is the mix that works for your schedule.  I commute just over an hour in the car, each way.  If we add in the random errands on the way to and from work (typically dry cleaning, groceries and diapers), I have about two and a half hours a day for audio content consumption.

PODCASTS: My audio content varies based on my mood and focus on a given week.  My favorite "social media and communications" podcast include Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation and Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson's For Immediate Release.  I also listen to This Week In Tech and This Week In Google for tech industry perspective.  Finally, The Vergecast is pretty solid for consumer tech/tech industry perspective and pure geekery.  Rarely do I listen to all of these podcasts.  But they are all entertaining and informative.  And they make folding laundry far more interesting.

AUDIOBOOKS: Audiobooks are the knowledge worker's secret weapon.  Audible makes my world go round.  For less than the cost of a single business book, I get two audiobooks a month.  Audible's selection is outstanding, and if you look around you will find a coupon code for a couple of free books when you sign up for your first account.  I usually get one tech or business book and one general knowledge/for the fun of it book.  As most books are between 10 and 25 hours, I usually get through two books in about 3 weeks.  As a bonus, the higher level accounts (such as the platinum account which I subscribe to) offer a free audio version of the daily NY Times or Wall Street Journal (top articles only).  This is a nice bonus, but I found limited value in getting my news in this format.

BLOGS: There are very few must-read blogs.  While I was once an RSS addict, I have nuked my Google Reader.  I now rely on social refferals and aggregators for most of my blog content.  I read TechMeme religiously - usually checking in once or twice a day.  I read almost every article on TechMeme.  When I have the time, I also read MediaGazer.  TechMeme and MedaiGazer present the day's top stories and link to a variety of blogs and news outlets covering each story.  I tend to look to my favorite sources for their perspectives - but through TechMeme, not through an RSS subscription.  For example, I regularly enjoy All Things D (particularly Kara Swisher) for tech industry perspective and ReadWriteWeb is usually pretty good perspective for data news.  But the beauty of these sites is that you have the freedom to chose the source by the story, not the story by the source.  

The only blogger that I still read religiously is David Armano - but as he writes for multiple sites I usually pick up his stuff through his social feeds.  David is unique in the clarity he brings to his posts and perspective, I highly recommend checking him out.

MAINSTREAM NEWS:  Marketing innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum.  Reading through, or at least glancing through maintstream news outlets is very important.  I prefer web access, but print works well for many as well.

MAGAZINES:  For the past few years I have read Time, Wired, Fast Company and Inc.  Now that I have relocated abroad, I still get Wired by mail (international subscription isn't cheap) and I'm trying to keep up with my magazine reading on my Kindle Fire.  I can't say that the magazine experience is equally enjoyable.

SOCIAL:  There are some great tools out there for social discovery.  For example, Percolate will deliver a daily email of the top tweeted articles from among your followers.  LinkedIn Today offers a similar service with articles sorted by topic or industry.  While these tools are great, I have found that my social feeds - Google+, Facebook and Twitter - are great sources for referring articles.  Remember that the web is a cocktail party, not a textbook.  You don't need to be part of every conversation or read every article.  Mingle, float from place to place and only stay and engage in areas that interest you.

Finding The Time

It really isn't that hard to find the time to keep up with the industry.  I listen to podcasts and audiobooks while on the go, while running errands and occasionally while doing chores.  I read magazines over the weekend.  I browse through a handful of websites daily, scanning through much of the content and handpicking a few articles for thorough reading.  I usually spend about 20-30 minutes to reading industry content over the course of a day.  And on busy days, I miss a day.  The world doesn't end when you miss a big story.  If the news was that big, it will still be discussed tomorrow.