Keeping Up With the Internet

Depending on how you count, there are over a hundred social networking sites out there and God only knows how many blogs. It's impossible to keep up with everything, even if you cut out all the crap you don't care about.

My own personal slice consists of 57 blogs, 23 Twitterers, and 244 Facebook friends (at current count). I interact in these venues as well, writing tweets, commenting on Facebook and blogs, as well as updating two blogs of my own.

I don't have the time to do all this, of course. I've got five kids and a novel to write. I want to share with you a couple of tools that have made my life simpler and (if you haven't already found similar tools) can maybe make yours simpler too.
  1. Google Reader. In the year 2009, you have to have some kind of RSS reader (similarly, if you have a website, you have to have a feed - I'm looking at you, Homestar!). I like Google Reader because (a) it checks the feeds automatically, (b) it feels like Gmail, and (c) I heart Google - they may be the New Evil, but they know how to do a GUI.
  2. Twitterfox. I started using Twitter while looking for a way to update my Facebook status and Gmail status at the same time.* I stayed there because it connected me to certain friends and the cost in time to use it was small - but only after I found Twitterfox. There are about a thousand ways to read and send Twitter updates, but I like this one because (a) it's a Firefox extension, so I don't have to open another app to use it and (b) it's quiet and unobtrusive (once you tell it not to pop-up a window).
  3. Ping.fm. I like status updates. They're quick and informative. It started when some friends wrote Gmail statuses that started with "is" (as in "Adam Heine is..."). Facebook was doing the same thing when I got there. When I got around to Twitter, I found myself writing 3 separate updates to separate groups of friends. Ping.fm is a solution to that. Now I can write a single update (sent through Gmail chat even) that automatically gets sent to wherever I want.*
If these tools don't do it for you, I bet you can find some tools that do. Examine your internet surfing for areas of redundancy or wasted effort (e.g. manually checking 10-20 blogs to see if they've updated yet), then look for tools that solve it. If you look hard enough, I can almost guarantee someone has written the right tool(s) for you.

* I have found a way to get Twitter to update Gmail, but it still works less than half the time. I'm hoping they fix the problem soon, or ping.fm figures out a solution. (You hear me, Google Titans? I want you to work with other developers!).

5 comments:

Unknown Blogger said...

thanks for the tips! I use reader (part of my morning coffee ritual) but ping & twitterfox have until now escaped me. Thanks for sharing!

Natalie said...

Wow, that's a lot to keep up on. I am resisting Twitter with a vengeance, and Facebook is cool, but I only visit occasionally.

I used to visit a lot more writing blogs and such, but now I have like 4 or 5 that are must reads, plus my buddies.

MattyDub said...

My solution is actually much more effective: don't get on Facebook or Twitter. :P
-M

Adam Heine said...

I didn't want to get on either, for similar reasons. I got on Facebook because Cindy did. She found all kinds of friends that we didn't have any contact with, then I got on.

Predictably, it's been good and bad. I can now stay in contact with lots of folks I couldn't before (some people just don't do e-mail - weird), but some of the games sucked my time away fast. I'm glad to say that I'm off the games... again... for now.

Twitter I explained, and the good is similar to Facebook. Got a couple of friends there that aren't on anything else.

So long as I don't have to add too much time to my morning Internet routine, I don't mind (although I'm pushing my limits now). Also, in the back of my mind, there is this voice that says, "Facebook/Twitter will be great for self-promotion when I sell my book."

Adam Heine said...

Oh, and Natalie, I forgot to mention that those numbers I threw out (57, 23, 244) are maximums. In reality I only read about 10 blog posts, 20 tweets, and 15 Facebook items each day.

The routine takes me an average of half an hour, if I'm uninterrupted (which I never am, but that's a different topic).