The breathless pace of technology--how to avoid being overwhelmed
Published: April 19, 2011
I once had a blogging contract I really enjoyed except for one thing. I didn’t like the software the company required us to use. The software was buggy, unpredictable and a hard-drive hog. But the slightly above average pay arrived on time and I really liked my editor. My frustration stemmed from upgrades—as soon as I mastered the software, a new feature would be introduced. I spent almost as much time dealing with the software as I did with the content.
Kay B. Day
When you have one account constantly demanding your attention, it can be hard to attend to others that are equally profitable. Add to that the expectation of most Web editors that you keep abreast of new technology, and feeling overwhelmed can be a recurring state.
I had to design methods for staying abreast of changes as well as expectations from clients. I did this in several ways.
I created a folder exclusively for news about new technology. I popped it onto my desktop so it would be easy to access. Within that folder I set up two files—one for tech news and another for leads. I visit the tech news file in my spare time. I visit the leads file when I want to explore a new topic or revisit an old one. I alphabetize the files and list them by keywords (healthcare, crime, energy)—that makes them easy to find at a glance.
I have on occasion hit some home runs with the leads file—you’d be surprised how relevant today’s news is to yesterday’s if you have evidence of it right before your eyes.
By saving leads according to my own system rather than via a glutted set of bookmarks, I can read the articles at my convenience.
The tech news file can be amusing—some startups are here today and gone tomorrow.
Some new resource links can be doubly amusing because what technology seeks it may not be able to deliver. One example is Spokeo, an online information broker that has drawn privacy complaints. I visited the site, and input my name. Some of the information was erroneous—my age, for starters. An income I wish I actually had was listed. And every member of my family was also listed. I was not happy to see such information about myself although I concede there is little I can do. Lesson learned? This is not a site I will rely on for information.
Summify is an interesting site that serves up top news from your social media and RSS feeds. Summify lets you determine the time period—whether you want to get the top news once or multiple times set hours apart. If you’re getting bogged down on Facebook or Twitter, this may be an option for you. I came up with my own solution.
When I scan social media sites, I do them on a drive-by basis—in and out in minutes. I scan for keywords relevant to what I’m interested in. For instance, if I’m writing an article about a breaking story, I scan my newsfeed at Facebook and check out the posts related to that story. I copy the links and create a file under a keyword that would dominate any story I might write. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied on those files to pen successful stories. Once the keyword is set up, I simply grow the file as time goes by and other stories develop. If you blog, this is very useful because with repeated stories that draw significant backlinks from other blogs, you will establish yourself as an authority in that keyword realm.
The site Tech Crunch is high on my frequent visit list because I get in-depth information about new technology and websites. For instance, Tech Crunch did a story about the Sound Cloud launch. Sound Cloud enables users to post questions or answers about a topic on an audio platform. What’s the difference between Sound Cloud and other question/answer sites? This site will include celebrities and
It’s also important to not overlook resources in tried and true networks like Facebook. I routinely organize my friends into lists—writers, just plain friends and family and other categories. This is useful for customized messages such as a professional opportunity I want to share with others or when I want to organize a social event.
New websites and tools are launched every day. Some are useful and will endure; others will fade with time. As 21st-century writers, we have to stay abreast of changes and developments relevant to our field and our interests. To do that, we must develop our own methods for keeping information at hand in an organized fashion. By taking control of our own information overflow, the rapid fire pace of technology may leave us breathless—not from anxiety, but from enthusiasm. And the writer has no better friend than enthusiasm.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for
The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International,
The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see www.kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.