On constant connectivity and information overload in the online social age
There was a solid post on the Mix blog about just letting go of all the stuff going on in the online social world and getting back to work. It's a subject that I've thought a great deal about lately for a lot of reasons. With a baby on the way, balancing life is important to me. I see friends who can't got five minutes without checking Twitter. Sometimes I worry about whether or not I'm learning the right things. The presence of information itself causes worry.
The thing that I keep coming back to is that there are a number of means to limit what you're exposed to, and they're not always electronic tools. Some people make it their job to find stuff and filter out the unimportant stuff (heck, I'm applying for just such a job). I find that in areas of expertise or interest, your overload is reduced when you find these human filters. The method of transmission is unimportant. I've been filtering out amusement industry news for almost ten years on CoasterBuzz, with a Web site. Remember Web sites? Pages, hypertext, pictures? It doesn't matter if it's a blog, Twitter, Facebook or a newsletter printed on dead trees. Fundamentally, there are still sources that act as information aggregators for things you care about. In the .NET world we have these folks, and they're authors, Microsofties, code project owners, etc.
The bottom line is that I don't think you need to be on 100% of the time trying to follow it all yourself. The trickle down filters work pretty well for most people.
If it's your job to have a higher awareness, then yes, engage at an appropriate level. But at the same time, make sure you're monitoring your peers, and if people report to you, listen to what they have to say. The tools and conduits are only a discovery mechanism, and most of them don't even offer a lot of depth or context. Engaging with people is still necessary.
Don't be lured into the real-time trap to the extent that you feel you have to see every last thing. If it's important, it'll keep coming up, and you'll see it tomorrow. The only exception I can think of is if you're a thought leader, but in those cases, shouldn't you be the originator of the important brain snacks in the first place?