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A Web Developer’s Guide To Coping With Information Overload

The amount of information and data available online is immense! With this Web Developer’s Guide you can learn to cope with information overload...

The amount of information created and made available on the internet on a daily basis is showing no signs of slowing down. Attempting to stay up to date, even within your industry sector or profession, is near impossible.

For Web Developers it is important to keep in-the-know when it comes to the latest web trends and technologies, not only for staying relevant in this fast paced industry, but to also to get immediate updates on new and constantly evolving security issues. But keeping up can be extremely difficult - notifications every 5 minutes, an overflow of Tweets, or a deluge of emails will soon have you out of your depth and overwhelmed with too much information.

data never sleeps

Luckily I’ve learnt to deal with this influx of info and organise it in such a way that I can pick and choose what to consume and when, easily; throughout each day, and I'm here to share my wisdom -

Email - The constant reminder

Unsubscribe! Literally be lethal, if the emails you receive aren't relevant anymore unsubscribe! Do you really need to receive information from those RSS feeds and Twitter.

Categorise! Luckily email offerings like those from Google are ever evolving and changing the way their products work, the largest change to Gmail in 2013 was the addition of Category Tabs. These tabs filter your messages in to set defined category (Social, Promotions, Updates etc.), and keep your important emails in the Primary tab; essentially allowing you to ignore certain emails until you have the time to sit down and go through them.

Further to this, Google launched Inbox at the end of 2014 that is an entirely different take on the inbox experience. It is totally built around the idea of categorising your emails - this time titled Bundles in Inbox. There are plenty of other handy features too, such as snoozing them until an action is required and showing additional content alongside them that isn’t originally present in the email itself.

What this all does is place importance on the emails you do receive, when you receive a notification of a new email you’ll be more inclined to take notice - Inbox doesn’t dilute the notification experience.

Twitter - My main point of call multiple times each day

I check Twitter while taking a breather from awesome Selesti projects. If you follow thousands of users it’s probably hard to keep up with a constant stream of new tweets, and your Twitter stream may constantly look like below. X new Tweets?

x amount of new tweets

My strategy here was to follow only essential people and accounts I wanted to see tweets from, this produced a nice steady feed of relevant information that I could consume mostly in one sitting. I then used Twitter Lists to group people & accounts together, so for example I have lists for Development, Internet Security, Bungie Staff and Wrestling among others.

Social media twitter lists

Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t seem to value the core functionality of lists as they’re buried a bit in the default web ui, fortunately another Twitter product called Tweetdeck can take full advantage of lists (among other handy things!)

The core functionality of Tweetdeck allows you to live stream multiple timelines all on the same page, the options for each timeline vary but you can have the main timeline (Followers), Custom Lists, Activity, Custom Search Terms etc. You get the idea!

Now at a glance you can run through dedicated timelines of information that you want to consume at that moment in time. As well as your normal timeline of course :) As a bonus real time streaming can be enabled so that you can keep it open in one tab and see the relevant tweets roll in.

Here’s how my timelines currently look:

TweetDeck2

Feedly https://feedly.com

Feedly is a service I’ve only just started using. I use it to subscribe to websites that I would visit perhaps once a month or less. Using an RSS feed aggregator like feedly allows me to quickly browse all of the articles posted in one place - at the same time!

As a bonus I can group websites together, want to get up to date with PHP news all in one place, not a problem:

feedly

No distractions, just the information you want to see and when.

My final tip here is to subscribe to the sites that actually produce the content! Avoid content aggregators as you’ll just end up with duplicate articles on different sites that has either been watered down or edited beyond recognition from the original article. Unless of course you value the communities comments/opinions on that subject which leads me nicely on to...

Reddit

Ah Reddit, the bastion of the Internet.

I subscribe to a lot of Subreddits so my homepage is fully relevant to my interests. For those of you that don’t know how Reddit works anybody can add posts to a particular subreddit. These posts are then checked against the boards rules by moderators (Self appointed) and voted upon by the community, based upon these votes the best posts appear higher up the page making them more visible.

This adds a democratic filtering system so that you can quickly see the most popular, hot and active posts of the day for a particular Subreddit. Or if you’re on the homepage you will get a mix of all your actively subscribed Subreddits.

Reddit for me is more about the community than the actual information itself. Articles for example if I haven’t already consumed I will read and then check out other peoples thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I like to get a broad overview of different opinions and angles on a particular subject.

There is literally a subreddit for almost every interest that you can think of, some very niche subjects & communities.. for those of you interested in that sort of thing :o)

  • /r/DepthHub
    • ‘DepthHub gathers the best in-depth submissions and discussion on Reddit. You can use the DepthHub as an alternative front page with high quality discussion and inquiry. For more on the theory of DepthHub, read this post from our founder.’
  • /r/ExplainLikeImFive
    • Want to understand concepts better? This is the subreddit for you
  • /r/hotelcalifornia
    • If you visit it, there's no posts and you can never unsubscribe from it
  • /r/enlightenedbirdmen
    • Yeah...
  • http://www.refinethemind.com/37-mind-expanding-subreddits/


Yo
http://www.justyo.co/

Get short precise nuggets of information straight to your phone via notifications.

I love the premise of this app, you subscribe to ‘indexes’ basically that hook in to events that happen in the real world. Rain in Norwich in the next hour? Yo. Chelsea Football team just scored a goal? Yo. Large Earthquake anywhere in the world? Yo.

You get the idea. You receive a notification and nothing else - you don’t get bombarded with loads of additional information. I’m not the only one to agree that this app rocks.