Alexis Taugeron

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Filter bubbles can help us as long as we control them.

Filter bubbles are a good way to fight infobesity and can help us consume meaningful information while staying focused on our projects. What we need is to be able to control them.

If I'm in the process of writing a book, I want the Internet to provide me with great inspirational content and helpful resources that will boost my creativity. At the same time, I want the Internet to protect me from an overflow of information and distraction. Even important, interesting information: if it's not linked to my current goal, it's better for me not to see it.

At the same time, I want to be able to break the bubble once in a while. When I'm kind of "in between" projects, transitioning from one state to another, I want to be surprised, to discover and learn new things that might change my perspective and influence my future choices.

And then when I get back in a focused state, pursuing a different goal, I don't want to live in the same bubble as before. I need a whole new bubble tailored for the new self I'm becoming.

  • Aug 8 2011: Great question, Alexis. I believe that anyone who's even mildly enthusiastic about learning has come across this issue. My personal strategy as follows:

    I subscribe to dozens of blogs in my RSS reader. Some are quite relevant to the topics I focus on every, while others I've added for mere curiosity. To filter through this content on a day-to-day basis, I create keyword searches that pull together the posts that are most relevant to me. Often this returns only 5-10% of new posts, and I can quickly find the content I need.

    However, when I want to explore less related content, I will open up the full RSS feed, and invariably I come across something interesting but off-topic. For what it's worth, NetNewsWire is set up very well to do this.

    If I were to offer a second suggestion, it would be to employ a similar tactic with the people one is following on Twitter. Hope that is helpful, and good luck with the book!