I ran across The Atlantic’s series asking pundits what they read. I’m not pundit, but hey…I thought it’d be a good feature for me. Naturally, it’ll start with what I read and will probably dovetail into what I’m listening to, since if you’ve followed me at all over the years you know there’s probably something playing in the background.
The Atlantic’s feature starts like this and I’ll answer mine with the same prompt: How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can’t they live without?
I wake up around 6:30am or so. When I do, I usually resist trying to read anything until after I’m ready for work. Because I live less than two blocks from work, there’s no real commute and so, I just wait until I get into the office to catch up on things. I heavily rely on Google Reader and Twitter to get the pulse of what’s happening. Hacker News is an underrated source and because I have blogs there, Tumblr usually ends up being on my radar too. I read local papers too.
The New York Times and The Atlantic mobile apps are on my iPad and I read them pretty regularly. I don’t rely on friends for their social news recommendations, as much as I take their cues and then end up surfing on my from. You know how link will take you to 30 others? That’s pretty much how I operate these days. If you’re not careful, you can get sucked into an internet vortex and not come out. So I try to pattern my reading for certain periods of the day and if I miss something, so be it. So it’s usually at the beginning of the day, around lunchtime on the iPad and maybe if there’s downtime later in the day.
I post on Twitter a lot more than I do on Facebook during the day. A lot of this owes to the audiences I subscribe to and because I just prefer the former to the latter. Still, I’m not as prolific as I once was. I’m okay with this. I’m retrofitting a lot of my online presence because it’s been three years or so with this current iteration of things. So post-work time these days especially has been spent plotting those moves and making them.
On the book front, I strongly prefer print books. But the iPad Kindle app is just great. I just finished Scorecasting and I’m currently reading the much bandied about The Art of Fielding and just started The Darwin Economy and Cognitive Surplus. The thing that it’s always been great for is as a kitchen tool. It’s my unofficial sous chef when I’m making new things ; which I do a lot especially since finding out a few months ago that an allergic reaction I had from camp this summer was actually gluten intolerance. Being a huge tea nerd, The Story of Tea is one book that wouldn’t suffice in digital format; I need the actual hard cover coffee table edition.
There’s no shortage of things to keep myself engaged. What I find most liberating is when I can shut down all of the consumption to block off time to write or to read. I think for many of us self-styled pundits, there’s a penchant to want to read-react-respond to things. I absolutely hate internet comments on news stories. It’s the worst thing to happen to media. I’m sure it can help gather a pulse on what the community things, but there was decorum in Letters to the Editor that internet comments absolutely lack. Some exceptions to the rule exist, but it’s easily my least favorite thing online.
Ultimately, I’m trying to be more thoughtful in my own commentary and I think the more you read and ponder, the easier that gets.