How To Not Drown in the Sea of Internet Content

As with many things, the first step is admitting defeat. There is, to a first approximation, an infinite amount of stuff to be consumed on the internet. Articles, videos, podcasts, photos, etc. The catchall term “content” is useful for a reason. It is literally impossible to read, watch, or listen to everything that gets thrown at you. Here is what you can do to get more out of your leisure time and find the best stuff.

Turn off all notifications

Then only turn back on the ones you absolutely need, like messaging apps. Instead of having apps push notifications to your devices, have your devices pull them instead at a set time interval, say, every hour.

Pick smart people to filter the internet for you

You can’t read everything, so you need to rely on sources that you can trust to find new and interesting things.

Subscrube via email to these newsletters and blogs:

  1. Marginal Revolution
  2. Matt Levine’s Money Stuff
  3. Slate Star Codex
  4. Ben Thompson’s Daily Update (Note: newsletter is for subscribers only and costs $10/month. It’s worth it.)
  5. Vox Sentences for a daily news brief
  6. Nuzzel for a daily news digest of the most shared links in your Twitter feed
  7. Benedict Evans for what’s happening in tech
  8. Pocket Hits to see what’s popular with Pocket users.
  9. Pome by Matthe Ogle for one poem a day

Add these feeds to your RSS reader:

  1. Longform
  2. Humans of New York
  3. XKCD

Listen to some of these podcasts (in alphabetical order):

  1. Beer Ignorance with Cock & Croc
  2. The Bill Simmons Podcast
  3. Conversations with Tyler
  4. Ear Hustle
  5. EconTalk
  6. The Ezra Klein Show
  7. Heavyweight
  8. Hidden Brain
  9. I Have to Ask
  10. The Indicator from Planet Money
  11. Invisibilia
  12. Longform
  13. Macro Musings
  14. The Pitch
  15. Radiolab
  16. Reply All
  17. Revisionist History
  18. Science Vs
  19. Slate Money
  20. Startup Podcast
  21. This American Life
  22. Today, Explained
  23. The Weeds
  24. Waking Up with Sam Harris

Use RSS feeds to follow your favorite writers. This takes a while to set up, but once you do, it’ll save you a lot of time and allow you to easily keep up with their work. Use Feedly.

What’s noticeably absent here? Social media feeds. They are the endless scroll of death. Delete the Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, etc. apps from your phone and only check the feeds periodically when you really want a social media break.

The key, I think, is being conscious about which filters you use to find new things. In the future, it’s likely that algorithmic recommendations will do a better job of finding good content than the kludged system I describe above. But judging by the quality of my algorithmic feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Pocket, we still have a long way to go.

In the meantime, consider using this system to keep your head above water. Happy consuming!

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