If there was a time-lapse video chronicling how humans have shared and received news information throughout history, the transcript of that video would go something like this: Chest-thumping. Hand gestures. Screaming. Cave paintings. Language. Carrier pigeons, or personal messengers. Scrolls and the printing press. Pamphlets, periodicals, telegrams, and newspapers. Eventually, television, and the Web, most recently fueled by blogs and social networks. Status updates, tweets, Instagrams. Whatever the time period, humans have constantly (re)invented new mediums and channels to get information (despite paywalls), some faster than others.
Fast-forward today, with social firmly stitched into the web’s fabric, it’s cliche to point out there are a dizzying amount of information sources and channels from which to find this information. Stepping back from firehose, I see people receiving and consuming news through the following three main avenues listed below. (As a disclaimer, (1) I won’t be able to list each and every service in each category, because that would be impossible; (2) some of the examples are influenced by multiple categories, but I’m trying to isolate and highlight the essence of each service’s offering; and (3) I realize many, many people still get their information via traditional channels like network/cable television, radio, and print daily newspapers and their online extensions.)
This is a lot of information about information, and fascinating to see how new mobile platforms, new technologies, and new communities and network graphs power the creation and advancement of these new channels. Gone are the days when everyone reads The New York Times, USA Today, and watches the nightly news on television. That much is obvious, and has been exacerbated over the past few years, though in 2012, with all of these new services recently launching, it seems to have been kicked into another gear, where the same kernel of information passes through what seems like an infinite maze to reach us in different forms.
Maybe I’m an outlier as a consumer in this space. As the number of channels increase, Twitter becomes exponentially more critical to me, both as a lens into the world and a strong meta-filter for what I allow to creep into my limited attention. I view the web through Twitter on every device and I subscribe to the summary email newsletters from each of the few main information services I use. I also file things into Pocket to read later or flip through Flipboard or Prismatic if I feel overwhelmed by my reading list, and that’s about it.
But, that’s only me. For many others, especially given the scale of mobile, a host of other services are robust enough to act as “go-to” destinations and entirely “new” news brands. No matter which way you prefer to get your news, there’s a service or app that will likely fill your needs and delivered information filtered to you by a host of signals and variables. It’s all the news that’s not only fit to print, but at this specific moment in time, also fit to reinvent, though the eternal challenge of focusing on what’s most important — in a day when it’s easy for everyone to create content — may remain as elusive as ever.
Photo Credit: miggslives / Flickr Creative Commons
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