You’ve Started on Twitter – What Now?

5 Tips for Avoiding Information Overload

Once you’ve built a personal learning network on Twitter, you’ll find yourself inundated with a deluge of information. Twitter executive, Michael Abbott said at a recent conference,

We’re not a social network. We’re an information network.

So how do you deal with all the information flying at you without becoming overwhelmed and giving up? Here are some tips I’ve picked up on my Twitter journey.

1. Be Discerning

You don’t have to read everything. A lot of what you’ll find in your twitter feeds won’t be of interest. Learn to skim, and just click on the links that interest you.

2. Use Lists

I use lists to sort my feed into information types. I have one for educational technology, which is populated with people who mainly tweet about that. I have another  for public education which is populated with people who tweet a lot about public education policy and reform issues. When I look at  a list, it stops me seeing the other information in my Twitter feed so I can focus on what or who I’m interested in.   Tweetlist for iPhone and Hootsuite for iPad are really helpful apps if you are using lists. Several people also recommend Tweetdeckwhich can be used on PCs and Macs.

3. Use an  RSS Reader

If a link takes me to a blog where someone is sharing good information  I often subscribe to it directly. There are various ways to do this but my preference is Google Reader. Whenever a new post appears on a blog I’ve subscribed to,  it will arrive in my reader account. RSS allows me to access all the blogs in one place, rather than having to visit multiple websites. I can read them any time, and not have to continually check websites or Twitter to see if there are updates. For a great article about how to use Google Reader, click here. My favourite way to read RSS feeds is on the iPad. I use an app called Flipboard, which turns my Google Reader and my Twitter feed into a magazine. It’s easy to flip through the pages, browse the headlines and read articles that interest me. It’s much like reading the newspaper.

4. Use Favourites

If someone tweets a link that you find really interesting and want to go back to, you don’t want it to get lost as more information comes into your feed. To avoid this,   favourite it. Twitter will store your favourites so you can look at them at a later time.

5. Use bookmarking tools

Bookmarking tools enable you to easily save, access and share the great information you have found. I use Delicious which allows me to add a little button at the top of my web browser. Whenever I find something I want to keep, I just click the “save on delicious” button and it will save it to my account. Then, when I want to go back to that information, I just go into my delicious page and it’s all there. Of course, if you’re new to Twitter, you might not be getting much useful information at all.  This post has some tips to help you get started.

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