Tech Talk: Customize the News

October 31, 2012 10:18 AM

DinoGiacomazzi blueWith Dino Giacomazzi

"If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed." -- Mark Twain

This seems like an odd quote from a man who spent so much of his life as a newspaper journalist, but there is a decent amount of truth to it. In the 1800s, people had few sources of information available, one or two newspapers if they were lucky.

In the year 2012, our choices are literally infinite. The problem we face today is how to sort through all the noise and find the information we want.

News and information comes in many forms: dairy, industry, local, political, sports and so on, and there are many different tools available to access it. News apps break down into two general categories: specialized and aggregated. 

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Specialized news apps are usually produced by the publisher, are feature-rich and contain in-depth content. The Fox News app for iPad and the New York Times for Android are examples. I use specialized apps for local news and market information. In particular, I use the Fresno Bee app for Fresno State football news, obituaries and stories of local interest.

News aggregators are a way to pull information from many different sources into one place. My favorite news aggregator for mobile devices is Flipboard. Flipboard uses Twitter and other social media sources for all its content.

In this column, I will focus on Twitter. Twitter users post links to news stories; Flipboard follows those links and brings the stories to you. Simply flip through the articles as in a magazine until you find something of interest.

With Flipboard, you can easily search for and subscribe to Twitter feeds from a variety of news organizations, such as @CNN (the @ sign denotes a Twitter address), @USAToday and @ESPN, and specialized publications like @DairyToday and @FarmJournal. You can even subscribe to individuals like @DairyDino (that’s me, by the way).

News curators are individuals and organizations that search the Internet for news they think is relevant to their particular audience. Many state (@CAFarmBureau) and county (@kingsfarmbureau) Farm Bureaus, as well as dairy trade groups such as Western United Dairymen (@WUDnews), tweet news articles.

In addition to letting you subscribe to individual Twitter feeds, Flipboard allows you to follow Twitter lists, which are groups of Twitter feeds created by you or others. Typically these lists match up people posting similar content. One popular list is @FollowFarmer/ag-journalism, which contains a group of 115 ag journalists.

I just created @DairyDino/FarmJournalMedia, a list with all the Farm Journal publications’ feeds. You can create your own custom lists; how-ever, you must make them on Twitter, not in Flipboard. Probably best of all, Flipboard makes it easy to share articles with people who have interests similar to yours.

If Mark Twain were alive today, I’m not sure he would have good things to say about modern media. But with easy access to so much information, he would certainly be well informed—and thanks to Flipboard, you can be, too.

Flipboard offers a third option for subscribing to content: searches. You can search for keywords such as "dairy," "cow" or "milk" and Flipboard will query several sources, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Instagram.

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