Following Humans

January 10, 2017

I used to follow blogs, almost exclusively tech or programming related blogs. There was a great RSS reader, Google Reader, that made it super easy. When that went away in 2013 I tried a bunch of alternative readers, some of them were ok but ultimately I decided to give up on consuming RSS feeds and switched to twitter. I’d already been using twitter for years, mostly just following real world friends that hardly tweeted and occasionally tweeting into the abyss, so changing how I used it wasn’t a big decision. My plan was to treat it just like a feed reader so I followed the accounts of several blogs that I was reading at the time and if a blog I wanted to keep up with didn’t have a dedicated twitter account for posting links as they went live, I followed the author instead. I’d changed how I consumed blogs - getting almost exactly the same content, just in a crappier interface. But a small part of what is good about Twitter had seeped in, which eventually would dramatically change what I read online entirely, and make twitter far more valuable for me than a mere feed reader.

It was those few annoying bloggers that didn’t have an account for their blogs. The tweets of those authors ended up being far more interesting than their blog posts alone, as they shared links to other people’s blogs, to news articles, comics, photos or their own 140 character thoughts. People I’d followed for their very narrow writing on a particular technical subject, it turned out, had things to say or share about other (sometimes interesting, sometimes baseball related) topics. Now the list of twitter accounts I follow is almost entirely made up of humans.

When I followed blogs, what I read every day never really changed. Now, from day to day, what I read can be dominated by entirely different subject matters, or not dominated by any subject in particular. I’ve learned so much that I otherwise wouldn’t have, and see and understand more of the world than I ever could have by reading proper news sources. Sometimes I end up not getting my techy blog fix from twitter at all, but that’s ok, I’ve a handful of my favourite blogs bookmarked that I visit on such occasions, and sometimes there are more important things going on in the world anyway.