Monday, June 20, 2011

Ideas anyone? Anyone?

Note from Rowland: So far as I'm aware, this idea has never been applied to the Church/churches...

Katie Cincotta
June 19, 2011

Melbourne-born designer and technologist Haiyan Zhang says while crowdsourcing isn’t new, technology has given it a global scale.

Photo: Craig Sillitoe

Crowdsourcing is tapping, literally, into a world of ideas, and giving unsung genius the chance to shine.

THE voice of the crowd has never been louder. We're tweeting opinions, broadcasting amateur news footage, offering marketing ideas from the warehouse floor. Now businesses big and small are harnessing that collective creativity through crowdsourcing - a trend that is taking problem solving to the world.

Crowdsourcing is a call to the masses via the internet; an invitation to people to come up with ideas and solutions on anything from a new company logo to how to improve education in the developing world.

Decision-makers don't care whether you're the secretary or the CFO. When the call to create goes out, the best idea wins, regardless of your experience or your geographic location.

The most famous use of crowdsourcing was when online movie rental company Netflix offered $1 million to anyone who could come up with an algorithm that could outperform by 10 per cent its own in-house software CineMatch, which predicts film user ratings. In 2009, three years after the competition began, BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, a seven-person team of statisticians and computer engineers from the US, Austria, Canada and Israel, claimed the prize.

Alec Lynch, founder and CEO of Australian-based, which crowdsources graphic designs from around the world, believes Australia has become the poster child for the movement, with up to a dozen crowdsourcing success stories reflecting our culture's desire to see an ''anybody'', a ''battler'' make good.

''I think Australia has become the thriving hub of crowdsourcing because it's based on the principle that a good idea can come from anyone, and that appeals to the Australian culture and mindset, and our egalitarian approach to business,'' he says.

Crowdsourcing uses the ''power in numbers'' philosophy to globalise the way we seek funds, designs, business ideas and emergency responses.

Most participants are lured by the competition prize money, the prestige and the sense of connection offered by this burgeoning trend for collaborative production; but it's also helping graduates to find work, and artists to hone their creative skills.

Melbourne-born designer and technologist Haiyan Zhang is the cofounder of, an open innovation platform that poses sponsored social challenges around health, nutrition and education.

She says while crowdsourcing isn't new, technology has given it a global scale. ''Organisations have been running competitions and tapping into the power of the crowd to come up with solutions for a long time, but the recent coining of the phrase refers to how technology is breaking down our barriers and enabling people to connect in more powerful ways,'' she says.

In just nine months, OpenIDEO - it has 16,000 members in 178 countries - has received 2000 ideas for eight challenges. Concepts that make the shortlist are brainstormed by the crowd, with the winning solutions developed into pilots and prototypes by the challenge host.

In one of the challenges, Sony, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund, asked: ''How can technology help us make the most of the planet's resources?''

From 399 ideas, the winner was a micro-volunteering application - an interactive online magazine that matches local people with local projects. It is now being developed by Sony.

In another success, Stanford University is increasing its registered bone marrow donors by using OpenIDEO's winning ideas, which include DIY cheek swab kits and Tupperware-style swab parties.
Zhang says crowdsourcing enables people to be innovative and develop new skills by encouraging them to step beyond their daily job labels. ''In the coming years, innovation and creativity will be those core skills you want to have for lots of different businesses and markets.''

But the idea of ''nobodies'' coming up with great ideas and handing them over to commercial operators who then capitalise on them does raise questions about due recognition.

Zhang argues that this is the compromise - the price individuals pay - to turn a great idea into a reality. She says inspiration often only gains momentum through collaboration.

''The innovation process is a little bit about relinquishing control to that sacred idea that you've never shared with the world, and it's only through sharing it that it morphs and changes and becomes something strong. Keeping it secretly under the pillow doesn't let it out to have real impact in the world,'' Zhang says.

Where crowdsourcing has really gathered momentum is in the design community. Lynch says his site's 32,000 designers are threatening traditional advertising agency structures, giving business a fresh, low-cost, world-wide talent pool.

''Crowdsourcing is outsourcing on steroids and it is disrupting traditional industries. I think of it as a triple threat because it tends to be faster, cheaper and more powerful,'' Lynch says.

He says in the design industry, a company would traditionally hire an agency and pay about $5000 for a handful of logo designs that might take a month to arrive. On sites such as DesignCrowd, clients can post a brief in minutes, choose a budget and typically expect 50 to 100 submissions within 10 days.

''Traditionally it's been expensive and risky to get design work done. Look at the London Olympics logo created by Wolff Olins for £250,000. It was absolutely panned when it was released … Crowdsourcing helps mitigate the risk,'' Lynch says.

A crowdsourced logo averages between $200 and $400, which Lynch believes is a price correction born of the globalised marketplace. ''Over half of our community comes from Australia and the US, but in the past decade it's also become much easier and safer to access workers in places like Eastern Europe, India and the Philippines who are talented, have strong English skills and are willing to provide amazing customer service, and don't charge very much when compared to local providers. That's competition, and that's a healthy thing.''

Social media researcher Associate Professor Angelina Russo, of RMIT's media and communication department, regards sites like 99designs and DesignCrowd as important launching pads for graduates. ''They're a fantastic way for young designers to build their portfolio, to promote themselves in a way that was not possible before. Even if you don't win, the feedback is good.''
She admits crowdsource contributors often trade control for opportunity and that many people still struggle with that aspect of the trend but, she says, these reservations are likely to subside as cultural partnerships develop.

As a seller herself on handicraft site Etsy, which asks buyers through online conversations what exactly they want to buy/have made, Russo says established designers are using crowdsourcing to bypass retailers and connect directly with customers.

''Crowdsourcing is a really good model for sustainable and ethical design. By using the web for market research and allowing people to vote on designs you can avoid having to make a whole lot of stuff that just sits in shops,'' she says.

San Franciscan fashion designer Derek Lam posted designs from his 2011 spring/summer collection on eBay for people to vote on, then produced the five most popular pieces.

After bravely withdrawing her label from six Myer stores and more than 50 boutiques, Sydney-based designer Nina Maya did the same on Facebook with a Shape the Range voting page. Maya says the experiment has paid off, with the 10 most popular dresses to go on sale online in July for about $260 each, 30 per cent less than the retail price tag.

She feels crowdsourcing has become a game-changer for the fashion industry because consumers now feel they can influence what is being made. ''It's listening to what the buyers want, and interestingly, what people wanted was quite different to what the shop owners ordered,'' Maya says.

She says the next step is co-creation - taking suggestions from fans of her brand - but she's determined not to compromise her original inspiration. ''As a designer, you want to keep the essence coming from the design source, but there's room for collaboration on maybe fabric choices or hem lengths.'' Crowdsourcing is not only about reaching out into the world for ideas; many corporations are using it to uncover untapped talent within their own workforces.

Digital strategist Bryony Cole recently worked with accounting giant Deloitte to set up enterprise social network tool Yammer, which is like Facebook for business and is used by 90,000 companies around the world for marketing, training and posting ''water-cooler'' buzz.

One of Deloitte's most successful projects was a competition to create a new marketing tagline around the green dot that appears on its logo. ''They're all accountants, so you wouldn't think they could be creative,'' admits Cole.

But breaking down stereotypes is exactly where crowdsourcing excels. Deloitte Digital's CEO, Peter Williams, says of the 1500 submissions made by staff in just 24 hours, eight people submitted the ''Let's Go'' slogan with a green traffic light, which ran as an ad in The Financial Review. Each person who submitted that idea was given a framed copy of the ad.

Williams says the project saved on advertising agency fees, taught staff how to use social media, and helped drive career progress for the winning creators.

What's critical with crowdsourcing, however, is for someone to steer the crowd so projects don't sink under their own weight, says Cole.

''People get so excited about crowdsourcing, but it can become like too many cooks in the kitchen and go off track so it's important to have someone leading the tribe,'' she says.

While mass collaboration raises the chances of finding a solution, it also requires rigorous filtering of the flotsam. ''There could be gold nuggets but it's buried in the dirt,'' she says. ''Data prediction platforms like Kaggle use scientists and data nerds to filter out all the crap.''

Services such as Kaggle offer competition organisers a sorting mechanism, where scientists organise entries to make assessing them more manageable.

During the recent spate of natural disasters around the world, the second-by-second reporting of people on the ground using digital media outstripped government updates on rising water levels, road blockages and approaching fires.

In response to Black Saturday, the Victorian government has found a way to aggregate and authenticate that material with BushfireConnect, a crowdsourcing-in-crisis platform which acts as a live central website.

Using a tool called Ushahidi, developed in Kenya to map post-election violence, the crowdsourced information is combined with data from official sources to provide an accurate news point for both citizens and journalists.

''For government, there's the issue of verification, so with Ushahidi you can upload photos, details and location, and pull in all the social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, so it uses the crowd to map the crisis live,'' Cole says.

Iin another example of the power of the crowd, event promoters have started offering fans a commission to sell concert tickets. Former artist manager Rebekah Campbell started after she saw an off-line version of the model work to fill a venue.

''Evermore's show in Perth had only sold a few hundred tickets for a 2000-seat venue so it was a disaster. I had the idea of turning fans into official promoters, paying them $3 commission on each ticket and before we knew it the show had sold out,'' she says.

Campbell spent the $28,000 she'd saved as a deposit on a house to purchase her domain name, hired an ex-Google Wave developer to build the site and is now set to launch in the UK in July and the US in August.

Posse's highest-earning spruiker so far pocketed just over $4000 after selling 502 tickets to Sydney's Field Day festival. ''The old model of marketing is that you spend money to get eyeballs to something. The new way of marketing is to create rewards, community and status to get people to push out to the people they know,'' says Campbell.

Then there's crowdfunding. This initiative is paving the way for new artists by raising project money on sites such as, founded by Rick Chen.

He says Pozible has launched projects ranging from music albums to travel plans, including a $20,000 biofuel expedition which offered naming rights on the boat for the Darwin to Malaysia leg.
''We had four Australian blokes want to travel from Tasmania to Norway driving a van without stopping at petrol stations. They've already started their trip and are about to hit Indonesia,'' he says.

Chen says many of these obscure projects wouldn't get started without crowdfunding. ''People have so many hidden dreams but they can't raise the resources to get them off the ground. We fit into the gap between government funding and business investment for more creative projects.''

Zhang believes the open-playing field created by crowdsourcing is blending diverse experience and initiative to help our rapid-fire society do things better, together.

''Our original principle was to enable people from all different backgrounds and different skill sets to come together and contribute to the innovation process … Because great ideas don't just come from an individual; they come from this collaborative effort, from these many different perspectives.''

Read more:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And The Future?

Ten prophecies for the digital millennium

Graeme Philipson

December 9, 2008

A summary of the main trends in IT, from the rise of the supernet
to the threat posed by intelligent machines.

Recently I was asked to speak at a conference about what's going to happen in IT predictions in the next 10 years. It's always hard to tell the future, but here goes anyway - 10 predictions, in no particular order. I have mentioned most of these ideas in various columns during the past year or two. So treat this, my last column for the year, as sort of a summary of what I believe to be the trends in IT as we near the end of the first decade of the digital millennium.

1. The internet will become the "supernet"

The internet has been around since 1969, but it's only 15 years since it has become the web - easy to use, easy to navigate, with billions of web pages and billions of users.

We have already reached the point at which most devices connected to the internet are mobile - phones, cars, even household appliances. That trend will continue, with the move to "embedded computing", where the internet links objects as well as general-purpose computers.

2. The decline of the PC

This is a consequence of the first prediction. PCs will not die - indeed, they will become massively more powerful, but they will become only one of many types of computing device. Mobile phones and "thin clients" will be much more popular ways of connecting to the supernet.

3. The rise of software as a service

Again, a consequence of the rise of other types of computing device. Data and processing and applications are moving off fixed computers - or even mobile computers - and on to the web.

This is increasingly being called "cloud computing" as all processing takes place in the "cloud" that is the internet. An important example is the craze for "software as a service", in which applications reside elsewhere and are accessed through a web browser.

4. The decline of copyright

Regular readers of this column will know this is a hobbyhorse of mine. Copyright and most intellectual property laws are now an anachronism. Attempts by record companies and film studios and book publishers to stop people copying digital media are doomed to failure.

Technology is forcing big changes to business models.

5. The greening of IT

Computers contribute about as much to carbon emissions as do aircraft - about 2per cent of the world's total. Many users and vendors are working out clever ways to reduce this figure - virtualisation, data centre consolidation, thin clients and telecommuting. All worthy stuff. But the real greening of IT comes when the power of information systems is harnessed to increase efficiencies throughout the organisation, in logistics, in manufacturing and in power distribution. IT is also an integral part of the carbon footprint monitoring and measuring process.

6. The threat from intelligent machines

Look up "The Singularity" in Wikipedia or somewhere. The term, invented by American writers Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, refers to the time in the near future when machines become more intelligent than humans and start replicating themselves. Who then will be the dominant life form on the planet?

7. Increased importance of technology for the aged

The population is ageing. The proportion of people disabled by the illnesses of old age is growing rapidly. Digital technology has a big role to play in helping people live independently and in keeping them out of expensive and soulless institutions.

The rise of so-called "e-health" is a big trend in this direction - use of technology to remotely monitor people's vital signs, to provide diagnoses at a distance and to supplement communications systems.

8. The decline of IT as a speciality

A hundred years ago it seems someone predicted that if telephony job opportunities continued to grow at the same rate, within a generation everybody in the world would be a telephone operator. Well, with automatic dialling, everyone is. Somebody else once predicted a similar thing about computer programmers. Today we all program computers, by the very act of using them. There are fewer specialists, but many more generalists.

9. The death of newspapers

Newspapers as we know them are in decline. Are you reading this in hard copy or online? Around the world, newspapers are shutting down or moving to the web. Blogs are replacing the mainstream media.

The profession of journalism, and the way we consume media and get our news, is being transformed. I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing, but there's no doubt it's happening.

10. The growth of internet TV

TV is going digital. At the same time, internet bandwidth is quickly increasing, and most of the data it carries is video.

Many kids simply don't watch TV any more - they download stuff. All sorts of people are offering all sorts of video content on the net, from legitimate TV stations seeking another distribution medium to amateurs on YouTube and elsewhere.

The existing pay TV model of expensive content over a proprietary distribution medium has only a few years left. And "free-to-air" will become "free-to-internet".

Call me at the end of 2018 to see how all this has panned out. And do have a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Teaching Techniques that will Improve your Blogging

In this post Leslie Madsen-Brooks explores 5 teaching techniques that bloggers might like to explore to connect with their readers

The best teachers–from first-grade teachers to university instructors–employ some simple techniques that bloggers can use to their advantage.

Here are five of my favorites:

1. Find unexpected common ground.

A couple years ago, I was standing in front of a classroom of 100 college students immersed in small-group discussions. Try as I might, I had a hard time getting them to reconvene. So I pulled out a trick I had seen elementary school teachers use. I took a deep breath and said, “One, two, three–eyes on me!” About a dozen students responded with “One, two–eyes on you!” — an effect that astonished us all and allowed us to share a laugh. Many of my students had been conditioned years ago to respond to that simple rhyme, and they were surprised to see the technique had made its way around the state and the country, that it wasn’t unique to their own first- or second-grade experiences.

Similarly, I’m always delighted when I find a blogger who establishes novel common ground among his or her diverse readers. Sometimes that connection is ridiculously simple and tied to Internet pop culture, such as a recent post on the fabulous professorial blog Edge of the American West called I CAN HAZ SPLENDID WAR?. I didn’t care much about the sinking of the Maine in 1898, but the post title’s reference to LOLcats made me read on, and I was tricked–tricked, I tell you!–into placing history into a contemporary perspective and vice versa.

image by Patrick Q

2. Offer points for participation.

At my university, faculty can’t grade students on attendance. One way, therefore, to get students to come to class is to offer incentives for participation (or, some would say, punitive consequences for non-participation). Each student’s final grade in any of my classes, therefore, depends a good deal on how much–and well–he or she contributes to class discussion. Students appreciate it when faculty weave student contributions into the fabric of a lecture or class discussion.

Bloggers do much the same thing when they pull a reader contribution from the comments and make it the inspiration–or even reason–for a new post. It’s a way of driving a conversation into different direction but it also rewards readers who leave quality comments.

3. Know every student’s name by the second day of class.

In a large lecture class, this tactic may be beyond the capability of most faculty. But when I have classes of 25-50 students, I try to learn their names as quickly as possible, usually by letting them introduce themselves while I madly take notes on their appearance and their quirks so that I can remember them in the next class period. (A colleague of mine uses Facebook to study her students’ photos.)

If someone stops by your blog and comments meaningfully or comments several times in a short span of time, drop her a line to thank her for her participation and to welcome her to the community. Take notes on what your commenters say so you can refer back to them when the opportunity arises. Even better, go leave comments on your reader’s blog. In the corner of the blogosphere I frequent, there are 100 or so blogs where the commenters all seem to know one another’s stories. It’s a powerful community that came about through reciprocal links and comments.

4. Give meaningful, fun homework assignments.

At my university, we’re on a 10-week quarter system. Science students begin taking “midterms” during week 2-3 of the quarter. Accordingly, science majors enrolled in my courses are tempted to stop doing the reading assignments at this time. To encourage them to read, I make sure to provide interesting homework and in-class assignments that require students to read all the course texts and come prepared to talk about them. Students are rewarded for doing the reading when they come to class and receive the respect of their peers for contributing meaningfully to our conversations.

Blog contests and challenges provide similar stimulus for reader involvement. Right now I’m very much enjoying how Dave Navarro is blogging his way through Christine O’Kelly’s e-book on freelance writing. He hasn’t explicitly given homework to his readers, but I’m inspired to follow along just the same, especially since I purchased O’Kelly’s book.

More explicitly in this vein, Darren offered his readers a 31-day course in building a better blog, complete with such homework as link up to a competitor and do a search engine optimization audit on your blog.

5. Be interdisciplinary.

While teaching, it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of your discipline. For example, just about everyone in your department might use the same textbook for a particular course, so all students get stuck learning the same material from the same source in the same way. But if you’re in chemistry and your students are looking a bit bored, you can liven up your discussion of sugar versus saccharin by tossing in some history of how sugar was rationed in the U.S. during WWII in part so that candy bars and other sugary treats could be sent to U.S. soldiers, whom, it was believed, needed sugar for energy. Saccharin, in the form of saccharin pills, therefore became a necessary sugar substitute–and a chic accessory on middle-class dining tables. Paint a humorous picture for your students of 1950s housewives using teeny tiny prongs to pick up saccharin tablets from bejeweled, turtle-shaped saccharin containers, and your students have a new context for their learning.

Similarly, if you blog in, say, the internet marketing niche, it’s easy to simply re-blog the same techniques everyone else is using and to promote the same affiliate programs. Why not branch out into another discipline or field–online or off–in order to bring new perspective to your readers? What, for example, are librarians doing to help clients better find the information they need? What can you learn about keyword searches and keyword research from their techniques?

Leslie Madsen-Brooks helps a broad spectrum of clients–including university faculty, K-12 schools, museums, and businesses–develop better learning experiences online and off. Among other venues, she blogs at Museum Blogging and The Multicultural Toy Box.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Here's a video
of a 2005 seminar I gave in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Usenet Newsgroups:

(Or paste this into your browser: )


Wednesday, August 15, 2007



Have fun!

Rowland Croucher

450 Articles on the Internet.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Hacking Toward Happiness

Thursday, Jun. 21, 2007 By JEREMY CAPLAN

Beneath the bits and bytes that shape the character of Silicon Valley, there's a booming digital subculture committed to the art of self-improvement, geek style. It's known as life hacking, and it's all about sweating out the best ways to crank through e-mail, sabotage spam, boost productivity and in general be happier. British tech guru Danny O'Brien coined the term at a 2004 technology conference after studying how programmers come up with "hacks," or shortcut solutions for routine but time-consuming problems. The trick, he says, is not to worry about the entire problem but to find a small fix to get through the task at hand. He describes his approach as a sort of "Seven Habits of Super Effective Geeks." The movement has since spread faster than an e-mail virus, inspiring a slew of popular blogs, such as 43 Folders, LifeHacker and Taking it a step further this year are a spate of podcasts and even new books on the subject, including Gina Trapani's LifeHacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day.

Up to 800,000 of the school's students, faculty and alumni may be vulnerable to identity theft. What went wrong, and what can be done about it?

Life-hacking communities focus not just on efficiency but also on making life more satisfying. "Self-help books tend to be about lofty ideas, whereas life hacks are about getting things done and solving life's problems with modest solutions," says Merlin Mann, whose 43 Folders blog is one of the most popular life-hacking hubs. In contrast to tomes of lengthy analyses and rambling prose, life hacking boils down self-help to actionable nuggets on subjects that range from workplace negotiations to travel planning. Typical tips? To halve the length of meetings, have people stand, because they won't waste as much time on digressions if they're not seated. Check e-mail hourly at most to preserve your concentration. Keep your packing list taped inside your suitcase to avoid losing it or having to regularly redraft it. Jot down or text-message yourself about each day's happiest moments so you'll have a detailed record to review and savor.

Life hacks are often about speed. If you can shave two seconds off four tasks you perform 20 times a day, Trapani says, you'll save about 11 hours a year, or a full day for fun. "LifeHacker is about working more efficiently so you can play more, not just get more things done," she says. Trapani's Saturdays are computer-free. "I'm a big fan of being away from the keyboard, staring into space and letting the mind wander," she says. That Zen mind-set seems to have allure: LifeHacker's readership has tripled over the past year to 15 million page views a month.

Some life-hacking fans get so wrapped up in reading about efficiency that the sites become, ironically, another procrastination crutch. "We don't need to overwhelm people with useless tips on how to put on a hat faster," Mann says. One hack he advocates is what he calls 10+2x5. Rather than starting work only to be sucked into time-wasting websites, set a timer for 10 minutes and focus exclusively on a task for that interval. Then give yourself two minutes for whatever frivolity you crave. Repeat that process five times, and you'll have gotten 50 productive minutes out of a work hour that typically yields much less.

Hip as life hacking is in the digital sphere, it's arguably a geekified iteration of an age-old American obsession with life improvement and personal reinvention. And while much of the subculture centers on technology, devotees like Mann and Trapani are keen on a surprising tool: paper. They each carry around a stack of index cards instead of a digital organizer. The simplest solutions can be the savviest.,9171,1635844,00.html

The Basic Blog-Less Hack

I came across this today... With all its wisdom, I think it's sometimes OK to meander around blogs... Every few weeks I click on the 'Next Blog' button in Google Blogs, and come across some interesting ideas... Rowland.


Remember: Nobody ever lay on their deathbed thinking "gee, I wish I had spent more time watching TV/reading blogs/at the office."

The Basic Blog-Less Hack

Here is the basic less-blogging-hack:

1. First, give up reading comments on blogs.

2. If that doesn't free up enough time, stop reading the blogs themselves as well (and the wikis ;-) ).

Spending less time on blogs (and other things online)

Blogs are another technology that people end up spending time on because they feel like they have made a commitment to a so-called community. Often, time spent reading or posting to blogs starts to eat into time that could be spent with friends or family, time where work commitments should be met, or other things that you could be doing. If you are not ready to give up reading blogs completely, consider the following approaches to reducing your blogging time:

* Stay away from comment threads with more than about 20-30 comments. The rest just won't be worth your time. After all, is it really fun to watch other blog readers pile onto the same sad troll?

* Identify the blogs you spend the most time on, and pare them down to a select few.

* If you have trouble restricting the range of blogs you read, try writing down a one-sentence explanation of why that blog is useful to you. If you can't think of one, stop reading that blog.

* Don't check blogs multiple times a day if you know the author only updates once a day at most.

* Schedule times that you will read blogs -- lunch hour or at home, for example, not at work. Ideally, only do this a few days a week, not every day.

* Don't post comments on other people's blogs. They might make you feel invited to do so, but you have other commitments you have to meet first. --Elisha-B 08:43, 20 Apr 2005 (EDT)

* Cut down on the time spent reading the ones you do read by using an RSS reader. Most commonly-used blogging software generates an RSS feed, as do many traditional news sites. This will help you catch up on new entries without being distracted by older entries and comments, and without spending time browsing each individual site.

-- Kenn Christ 15:59, 20 Apr 2005 (EDT)

o And then be sure to set your reader/aggregator to only check at a reasonable interval, say 1 hour or 4 hours or even once a day. Nothing the program gathers is likely to require your attention that often.

o Also: Decide in advance the maximum number of feeds you want to subscribe to. Using a RSS-reader makes it so easy to subsribe to anything remotely interesting. So set yourself a limit, say 100 feeds. One new in = one old out. Brandnewbrain 10:30, 29 August 2006 (EDT)

* Use an aggregator to print the blog entries you want to read. When the time you've set aside to read blogs arrives (lunch, the end of the day on the train home, etc.), print each new entry. This prevents you from following links that aren't critical and wandering around the web aimlessly.

* Or, if you have a computer that is not always internet-connected, let your aggregator collect all the new posts, then disconnect and read offline. My friend disconnects his laptop after he has done his collecting and sits in a comfortable seat to read; I disconnect my dial-up. Re-mark as unread any posts that have links you need to follow up when you are back online.


Related to this is avoiding forum threads. I've found that MacRumors, Slashdot and Ars Techinca's MacAchaia the worst. This was a huge time saver for me. --Tyler 20:11, 5 May 2005 (EDT)


* Don't read anything longer than a screen

o Does that include this page? If so, how will one find your advice :-) While that may be good advice in some circumstances, I'd recommend rather reading things longer than a screen if the first few paragraphs are interesting or useful. That way you save time, but also don't miss most useful pages which are often longer than a page.

* Don't follow the links to other articles

* Just read what you came in for the first place

The Bottom Line

Important note: Define what the time is for. There's nothing wrong with watching TV or reading blogs, as long as it doesn't become your obsession. If you set aside planned time for watching television or reading blogs, or you just need a break for an hour, that's perfectly fine. The important thing is to come back after that hour, don't just keep sitting there on the couch!