Most of you have probably seen Clay Shirky's material on the great Cognitive Surplus - the free time that everyone wastes by watching TV. Awesome stuff, but if you are trying to keep up with all the activity in the SaaS, PaaS and Cloud industries by definition you have no Cognitive Surplus. We are in information overload. Subscribing to specific feeds or Google Alerts can help isolate the signal from the noise, but sometimes even that can be challenging. Let me propose a solution: I have created a microfeed for this space on Twitter. This blog discusses how you can subscribe to this feed and stay in touch with the news in a very lightweight way.
NOTE: this blog entry was originally posted May 8th, 2008 on my previous blogging system (dev2dev.bea.com).
Twitter and the 140 Character Budget
We had email, then we added instant messaging, and now we have Twitter. What is the trend here? Brevity. Stop with the 3 page emails and get to the point. Its all about time, and we don't have enough.
For those who haven't already taken the plunge into Twitter, let me explain its single most rewarding feature. It limits each message (tweet) to 140 characters. It forces brevity on the author, and this is a very good thing. Like telegrams of the past, authors need to choose their words (actually, characters) very carefully to get their point across in those precious 140.
For Twitter subscribers, this means you get messages that are short and to the point. What's not to love.
Twitter began as a personal messaging platform. The message publishing box asks "What are you doing?" The intent is to keep your buddies apprised as to what you are doing throughout your day.
But the Twitter community being who they are have found creative uses for this messaging platform. Microfeeds (a term I prefer to Twitter Feeds), are one such use. The idea being that there is utility in getting short alerts on news throughout your day without being disruptive. This doesn't replace the full RSS scan you do when you have the time, but helps to keep you informed when you cannot spare time to do even that. Coupled with the option to receive your Twitter messages via SMS on your phone, it is also a way to stay informed even while you are out and about.
There are at least two ways to publish a Twitter microfeed:
- Using an automated service like TwitterFeed to watch an RSS/ATOM feed and pump the first 140 characters of each entry to Twitter
- Hand crafting the feed to fine tune each message
The former is the most timely and easiest, but can be very noisy if you are aggregating many feeds, and may not convey a lot of information in the message since it just grabs the title and maybe a few more characters from the entry. A handcrafted approach assures the readers that they are getting quality messages.
Introducing the SaaS/PaaS/Cloud Microfeed
That was all very abstract. What is important to know is that I have created a handcrafted microfeed for S/P/C and encourage you to try it. I plan to be very selective in posting the following types of information in the space:
- Major deals, acquisitions
- Product launches
- Call for Papers for upcoming conferences
- Notice of upcoming events, like webinars
- Insightful blog posts
For an SLA, I will attempt to stay under 20 messages per week, with a target load of 2-3 per day. But as we go along, please give me feedback as to content and quantity.
As a sample, here is the feed as it currently stands right now:
Subscribing to the ondemand Microfeed
The Twitter account being used for this microfeed is:
For those already on Twitter, just follow that account and be sure to enable device updates for it. For new users, follow these instructions:
- Create a Twitter account, using whatever name you like
- Skip the email search wizard
- Search for the "ondemand" user using the search box
- Click the Follow button
To subscribe your phone to get an SMS message whenever a new post appears, do the following:
- Click Settings in the upper right
- Click Devices
- Enter your phone number, and be sure to check the box to approve SMS
- Click the Home link at the top of the page.
- Click on the Following link on the right hand side of the page
- Click the on button for device updates for ondemand
There are many ways to stay on top of this Twitter microfeed. I am optimizing for readability on SMS but really any client will do.
- The traditional Twitter website user interface
- Enable device updates for the ondemand account, and you will receive SMS messages
- Thwirl - a powerful desktop client
- Facebook integration