How to be informed without spending 20 hours a day online

Lately I've had several people ask me how I find all the articles I post either on my Twitter, Blog, or personal social media sites. So, I thought I'd do a quick post about how I find articles (without spending my whole day on the internet). 

1. Get an RSS reader. Seriously, I don't know how I ever survived without one. I'm no technology expert so I use "The Old Reader". I cannot recommend them enough. They're a pretty small operation that basically exploded after the Google Reader was shut down. I think there's a monthly fee to use their site? I've been "grandfathered" into their free site. Whatever it costs, it's worth it. 

2. Know what you're looking for. I study disasters so obviously I want the majority of the sites I read to be reporting on disasters. Here's the thing. There's a shockingly few sites that only post about disasters. This means I have to do a lot of filtering. I also happens that I'm personally interested in "the news" more broadly, so I don't mind following some of the larger sites (i.e. Al Jazeera, Quartz, etc.) and skimming the titles. I've also found that the majority of articles written on disaster related things (i.e., mitigation projects, climate change) are categorized under "environment". On some of the bigger news sites I just follow their RSS Environment feed (i.e., The Guardian). There are also some sites that do some of the leg work of searching the internet for you. My personal favorite is Humanitarian News. They even have specific feeds for "hot topics" (e.g., fighting in Syrian, fighting in South Sudan). 

3. It takes some time. Figuring out which news sites, blogs, etc. that you like, trust, have good readability, and write about topics you want to and need to be informed about takes some sorting out. I'm constantly "subscribing" and "unsubscribing" from sites. If I come across an article that I like from a site I've never seen before I usually subscribe to it and give it a chance. This is how I've come across some of my favorite and most trusted sites (e.g. CompareAfrique)


4. Leave some outliers in the mix. I subscribe to a couple ultra-conservative sites, some sites about space & other science things, a celebrity blog, and have been in a love-hate relationship with Thought Catalog for about 3 years. It's good to have diversity in where you get your information. 

5. Follow blogs of others in your field. I actually haven't found too many folks that write disaster blogs, or at least that write disaster blogs that don't make me angry. If you're interested in other disaster blogs The Recovery Diva is obviously the best. Also of note are John Twigg's BlogDisasterNet, and Hurricane Hal