I was working my way through a professional membership application when the questions turned to demographics. How big is your organization? What is your budget? How many people in your department? Then they popped the question that I hadn't been asked in ages: "What Industry Related Publications Do You Read?"
I was taken aback and realized that the question was quite normal in 1995, even in 2005 or maybe even 2010. But today, in 2013, with the vast increase in social media, blogs, twitter feeds, podcasts, and professional online communities, I must say that I don't read any of them any more.
It was a good list, made up of the cream of the crop from 2003: Business 2.0, Business Week, CIO Magazine, Computer World, Forbes Magazine, Info World, Information Week, Network World, Red Herring, and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. But the reality is that it has been many years since I received any physical magazine in my mailbox. Come to think of it, for the last 18 months, I received nothing physical at work, other than a few vendor gimmicks. All of my communications and my consumption of content has become digital. The switch finally happened and I didn't even notice.
It started about four years ago when I began following thought leaders, analysts, and bloggers on twitter. I found if I was selective with my "follow" population, I could get a customized feed in my twitter stream every day, throughout the day to satisfy my technical appetite. Once I started following 400 or 500, I began to get overwhelmed, missing many tweets. As a result, I found myself getting very selective about adding new tweeters to my stream. That's when I discovered the power of twitter lists.
Twitter lists are an ingenious invention that allows you to segment those you follow into logical lists grouped by topic, locality, or anything you like. I pulled together about 300 sources that I thought were most valuable based on my then-current interests around Enterprise 2.0 and Mobile trends. That became "The Short List." It wasn't so short, at 300 sources, but provided a very focused feed and allowed me to keep adding to my twitter "following" number without worrying about getting overwhelmed in the feed.
Later, I created an additional list, simply called "list." I didn't want to offend anyone on "the short list," but this group was mostly professional acquaintances and a subset of my "short list" pared down to the 100 that I wanted to follow even closer. Since then, I've added other lists for various topics, and followed lists created by others who's opinions I respect, but I keep coming back to my "Short List" as the key source for my daily information feed.
Moving from Push to Pull
I dabbled with Zite, and Flipboard, but found those too restrictive and never really liked the editorial choices they made. But my Short List was just what I wanted to hear from every day. Then, about two years ago, I stumbled upon Paper.Li. This handy website takes my "Short List" and builds a daily paper based on the most popular feeds of this custom list of curators working just for me. "The Short List Daily" as it is called is my daily paper giving me a quick briefing on all tech trends and topics. It groups them into sections (business, technology, stories, culture) and sometimes even into hashtag groupings around events that might be taking place (#e2conf, #e20s for example). The paper has been indispensable. I like it so much, I share each new issue every morning on my twitter feed.
Just recently, I discovered a service called Littlebird created by industry veteran Marshall Kirkpatrick. Littlebird does the work of finding the 500 most influential tweeters on any subject (instead of having to build my own "short list") and allows one to build a twitter list from the result. I took the list for Enterprise Mobility (created by @ITSinsider using the service) and fed it into Paper.Li and now I have a second "paper" to read every day, "The Enterprise Mobile Daily." Littlebird can also create a custom feed of blog posts from all of these top influencers as well. Imagine a custom feed of all the blog posts from the most influential tweeters on the subject of Mobility, or Enterprise Collaboration, or DNA testing. The possibilities are endless, providing today's tech savvy information consumer a custom daily briefing on virtually any subject of interest.
I have also found a few other custom papers that I like to check into frequently. "Future This!" is one of the best at following developments in future thinking. I'm sure if you check around, you will find any list or "paper" on the subject that interests you as well.
I have just mentioned two sources of expert lists and content presentation platforms. I expect there are and will continue to be other products continuing to evolve as they tap into the collective editorial skills of the crowd and produce custom feeds of news, trends, and developments in a handy easy-to-digest format.
So, getting back to that original question, what industry related publications do you read? For many today, it's the wrong question all together. The real question should be: how do you stay current in today's fast evolving technology world? My answer is a customer feed of self-maintained and custom generated expert lists, combined with the publishing platform of Paper.Li.
Now, do you understand why the entire print news industry is on "death watch?"