Friday, February 11, 2011

The Blogosphere and Twitterverse



Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites make it easy and fun to follow the most innovative thinkers in any field.  The best information is in the blogs, but your friends on Twitter and Facebook will help you find it.

Over the past decade, blogs have evolved from online journals into a mainstream publishing tool. There are more than 125 million separate blogs and highly creative people are some of the most prolific bloggers. Whatever your interests, someone is blogging about it and some of the blogs are excellent.  Bloggers are typically the most educated and passionate people in their field.

Several sites, including Technorati.com index blogs and this is a good way to initially find some blogs to follow.  Many professional journalists and professional writers are also bloggers. So when you read a great book or an interesting magazine column, be sure to check out the author’s blog. Bloggers also tend to follow and comment on other blogs, so an interesting comment may link to a new source of knowledge and inspiration.

When you are following several blogs, it quickly becomes unwieldy to visit each site individually to discover if it has been updated.  Set up an RSS reader page and use the RSS button at each blog site to set up an automatic headline feed to your reader.  That makes it easy to spend only a few minutes each day to see which blogs have been updated and decide which articles you want to read.

Searching on Technorati.com and reviewing RSS feeds are good sources of information.  Your friends are a better source. Who are the most interesting people you know?  Chances are, they are interesting online as well.  People who are intellectually curious have a talent for finding interesting information and sharing links to it on their own Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn pages. If you follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook, or contact them on LinkedIn, they become your news sources and news filters.

Twitter is the best way to find new sources of information because most Twitter users allow anyone to follow them and the “retweet” feature makes it easy for people to share the most interesting tweets.  When one of the people you follow retweets something interesting, you can choose to follow the original tweeter to gain more of their insights.  If it turns out that someone you follow generates a lot of useless or uninteresting tweets, it is easy to unfollow them.

This process works in both directions.  When you find a particularly interesting article, share the link on your page.  Your friends will appreciate it, and if they share it too, it might bring you new followers which you can choose to follow yourself.

It is important to set aside time every day to follow your social networks and read the best blogs in your field.  Then turn everything off before beginning your real creative work . Focus your full attention on your own project.

What are your favorite blogs?  How do you keep track of the latest trends?