Monday, February 9, 2009

My mistake of following 550 people and how I hope to fix it

Sorry for the follow, and then unfollow everyone in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, etc.

Building off my previous "You are the news" blog post where I explain that reading people's twitters is more valuable as news than watching the local nightly news or your local paper.

I have been struggling with how best to accomplish this.

One of the first things I did was use Google to search "Location: Phoenix" and then follow everyone there, and then tracked Phoenix and if the person who came up listed as being from the area, followed them too. Way back in the day would show a map of an area and twitter posts from there, so looked up Phoenix and followed everyone from there as well. Then started attending local "social media" events and if I met someone there, followed them on twitter as well.

The problem: follows 550 people. Way back in the day Leo Laporte mentioned that he viewed these micro blogging services as a "river of news" where you can't possibly drink it all in, but instead, "bathe in a river of information". That's what I was doing, but found I wanted to keep up with some currents 100% of the time, but they were being flooded out by the other 546 people I was following.

Location based search and came to my rescue. You can now do near:Phoenix at and run an Adobe Air app called TwitterLocal that allows you to have a program that launches at startup, showing posts within so many miles of a zip code. So I setup one for within 5 miles of 85050, and another for within 50 miles of 85051. That should take care of the river of info for Phoenix AZ. So now whenever I have 30 seconds to spare (waiting on a download, or my World of Warcraft character has to wait for something to finish for a few minutes) I switch over to the TwitterLocal app and glance at what's going down.

Distraction? Certainly not. I'm saving hours a day by not even trying to read the newspaper or watching television. With this system I only "head to the river" when I'm free. There might be days where an intense set of circumstances causes me to ignore everything, and on the days when I'm open to more information coming my way, I'll go for a bath.

I'm now going to try and unfollow down to 100 people. Why 100? It just seemed like a nice round number. So if I had followed you, and am now unfollowing you, please do not take it as an offense, and I promise, from now on, to not follow someone just because they are in Phoenix AZ. I have to expect that some people will unfollow me once they read this, if you do, consider setting up a solution for those nearby as well, and then @ me to let me know what you came up with, I'd love to hear it.

Speaking of @ messages. On the advice of @evo_terra, you can turn off all @ replies (other people @'ing someone else) in twitter settings. Still trialing that.

The list of people I'm going to try and keep following:
1. Family.
2. Friends I grew up with.
3. People within 5 miles of 85050
4. Phoenix 2600 Group (Once a month meeting where we chat about computer stuff)
5. Social Media Friends
6. A few tech journalists / news feeds
7. People I've met at local events

Then the whole other list of people who I get their text messages sent to my phone will fluctuate depending on how many txt a day I feel I can handle.

Twitter if you are listening: You could make this easier by default.
1. Include @Replies in the main stream instead of another page.
2. Have a "near me" page on the main page that users could click on if they get interested.

A problem: I know how to do this, but will anyone else?

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