Llew Claasen
Llew Claasen

Give me the info, but make it quick

I’ve developed a curious reading disorder and I’ve established that I’m not alone. I hardly read in the strictest sense any longer. I’m stretching if I have to read a piece of more than 500 words without getting to the point. I ignore articles that have vague headlines. Ninety percent of my knowledge of current events comes from reading just the headline and the first paragraph of a news article. I hardly ever read the end of articles or blog posts, because once I’ve got the info I wanted, I draw my own conclusions and make my own summaries. I used to do this only with online news and blog feeds, but I recently noticed that I’ve started doing it with magazines as well.

Now if you don’t know what an RSS reader is, then you probably scoff at my Millennial silliness. You may even blame the PlayStation and tell me that it’s causing me to develop ADHD. You’ll likely tell me that there’s nothing quite like settling down with your daily newspaper over a cup of coffee before work to get your news. What you don’t yet realise is that in the hour that you spend reading your morning paper, I’ve read at least four local and international newspapers and the latest posts from another 10 to 20 influential industry blogs, and I’m not alone.

Now before you get the impression that I’m pretending to be some kind of wunderkind, let me assure you that what I do is the norm for knowledge workers busying themselves in the knowledge economy. In the world that I inhabit, know-how, expertise and intellectual property are more critical than other economic resources such as land, natural resources or even manpower.

When information becomes the cornerstone of your competitive advantage, then the difference between being competitive and mediocre is your ability to gather and assimilate the high-value information. In the past when your competitors got their news from the same source as you did (likely a daily newspaper or the evening news), you could afford to be complacent, because the value of everyone’s information would then remain the same. The internet changed that because it opened up the world’s information to almost anyone with an internet connection and created information-value differentials. In these exciting and innovative times, you’ll find it very difficult to gather the high-value information consistently if you have only one source of information.

If you haven’t already, get with the programme and start getting your news fix through an RSS reader like Google Reader. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, any new articles or posts are delivered directly your feed reader as they are published by your source. Here are links to a few high-value RSS news feeds for you to subscribe to, to get you started:

  • Mail & Guardian Online
  • New York Times
  • The Times of London
  • KeyJam.net (my regular blog)
  • And here are a few RSS feeds that just make life more interesting:

  • The Onion
  • Keo
  • Trash Media