Removing The Noise

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Too many people are looking for too many ways to follow too many people and places. Your best bet is to do the opposite…

Did you know that you can have your 140-character tweets from Twitter also cross-posted into your Facebook status, LinkedIn status and now even into your Google Buzz without doing much of anything besides letting each platform know that you would like this happen? And while that may sound convenient for you to ensure that anybody and everybody who is following you can get your information, it should come as no surprise that we’re quickly all barrelling towards an information and attention crash.

Even the folks just getting into RSS and Social Media are grappling with where to find the quality information.

If someone wanted to make the next million dollars in the online world, they would create an app or platform that would help people remove the noise, not add to it. But let’s be realistic, no technology or filters in the world are better than human beings at aggregating and editing their content.

So, here’s the challenge…

Don’t add more noise to your life.. start removing the noise. It’s not important to follow every Blog, and it’s impossible to listen to every Podcast. If you’ve spent more than five minutes on Twitter, the river of tweets and the speed with which they flow makes every conversation look, feel and last a couple of seconds (at most). Become a better filter. If you’re following someone and they’re really not adding any value to your life (your growth, development and education), drop them. If you follow a Blog but never get to it because life happens, drop it. If you’re a publisher of content (text, audio, video, images, whatever…) think about what you’re publishing (noise vs. value).

Following a few of quality will give you the quantity you need.


  1. Re: “Become a better filter.”
    People easily become obsessed with shiny new tools and technologies (heck, I’ve been guilty of this too). At the end of the day, discipline and better filtering (and time management wins). There will never be enough time in the day to process everything (i’ve learned to accept this). The fact that I’ve become conscious of it, allows me to prioritize and manage my time better.

  2. I recently created a list of topics I’m interested in:
    Business Leadership & Stategy
    Financial Markets & Investing
    Global Politics
    Insurnace Wordings & Risk Management
    Website Design & Usability
    If content doesn’t fit into one of those catagories I force myself not to “listen”. It’s probably a bit over regimented but I’ve found it necessary as I get 2000+ RSS articles daily, 100+ podcasts daily, and work 16-18.
    If it helps anyone, I also created a set of rules for myself that cover everything from what news I read, how many hours I work, what time I get up, etc.
    I’ve found it worthwhile to do this and stick with it, you get a lot more done in a day, hope that helps someone.

  3. Here, here! I am discovering that the shiny toys of the latest, greatest online channels are dangerously enticing. A few days ago I heard Seth Godin say in an interview that he doesn’t watch television and he is not on Twitter. At first blush, it sounded absurd to equate the two things, but now I get it. Choosing the “off” switch is one option, but there are other ways to “filter” as you suggest. Asserting autonomy over our own attention seems an essential stewardship, especially in light of the current online landscape.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with this article. How are you suppose to find your own voice if your head is filled with the voices of facebook friends, twitterers, and buzzers. They all are basically the same thing as well. I am still trying to find the one social networking site that works best for my purposes as a freelance designer. As much as I despise sitting in front of a computer and filtering through blog after blog and tweet after tweet, it has provided a great deal of information that I might not have otherwise found. It is a balance I suppose.

  5. This boils down to a couple of conclusions :
    – the only valuable information is one that is actionable
    – Most of us already have enough information to build something extraordinary
    – fool around reading twits and blogs, but don’t fool yourself : you’re killing time, but not getting anything done

  6. Great thoughts for both consumers of content and creators. As a consumer of content I tend to go through RSS purges every couple weeks. As a creator of content, I try to ask myself if this is something I would read if it popped into my RSS feeder. Not wanting to become somebody’s “noise” can be a powerful motivator as a writer.

  7. Well said, Mitch. We don’t have enough hours in the day to “stay connected” to everything. It’s impossible. And I know people who feel guilty for not staying connected “enough.” And then you ask them what they do stay connected with and when they’re done you feel the need to lie down and take a nap. I turned Google Buzz off today. I tried it out for a few days and, well, I just don’t need it. I can’t imagine anyone who does.

  8. Don’t worry Mitch. The present obsession with attention seeking and message snacking will eventually have the same affect as continual overeating and binge drinking. Then you’ll witness the emergence of Social Media Anonymous and media diet gurus. 🙂

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