November 12, 2008

How to Discover New Content

By Mike Fruchter of (Twitter/FriendFeed)

The quest for finding new content to read is neverending. Gone are the days of visiting numerous websites to get the latest news. Increased RSS adoption, both for publishers and consumers has significantly enhanced the discovery and distribution process. Content is being published faster then ever before, and we are discovering and sharing it as fast as it is published. This happens within minutes, giving "hot off the press" a whole new meaning.

As recent as 3-4 years ago, I checked no more then 5-10 websites per day for my tech related news. I relied on a portal, mainly Yahoo for headlines, local and sport news. There was so much more information accessible to me, but I had no real mechanism to harness it. I discovered new blogs back then by doing Google searches and following links from blogrolls. When I found a new blog, I would bookmark it locally in Firefox. This process, over time made my bookmarking folders a junkyard of lost links. With the exception of a few, most would never see a single mouse click ever again. While the mechanisms (RSS readers) were in place then, it was not until Google launched Google Reader in October of 2005, that I really took notice and began to understand what that funny looking orange icon I saw on every blog was about. It would change the ways we create, discover, distribute and publish media on the internet.

Today, I'm currently subscribed to 638 various social media and technology blogs. I can go through several hundred of these feeds in a matter of minutes. Reading, notating and sharing in the process seamlessly and effortlessly, thanks to RSS and Google Reader.

This post outlines some of the methods and tools I use to discover new voices.

1) Google Blog Search

This is one of the easiest ways for finding new content. Google Blog Search is great for finding the most relevant blogs on any particular subject. It updates and crawls extremely fast. Posts will show up in the search results rather quickly. You can also search and sort published blog posts by the last hour, last day, past week, past month or any date range. I use this in combination with a number of Google Alerts, that I have set up to monitor specific keywords of interest. If a blog is publicly publishing and has RSS enabled correctly, it should show up in the results.

2) Blogs/Blogrolls

Follow the links. Bloggers will almost always reference and link back to the source of their subject. Bloggers often feed off of each other. The source usually goes back to another blog or blogger which provoked or inspired the link in the first place. I discover a lot of new blogs this way. Bloggers often guest post on other blogs, these are usually voices that are in demand and are a great source for discovery. Blogrolls, besides being an overlooked sidebar widget, are actually good for discovering new blogs as well.

3) Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking sites are great for discovery. Bookmarks are usually niche targeted/tagged and for the most part represent quality content. Sites like Delicious and Diigo are both great resources to tap into. I prefer Diigo for discovery because it offers more social aspects to it compared to Delicious.

4) Twitter

Twitter is an excellent tool for discovery. Twitter goes hand in hand with blogging. If it's on a blog, the chances are extremely high it's been broadcast on Twitter. Twitter is as real time as it gets. The first platform bloggers use almost immediately to broadcast their new content is guess where, yep Twitter. Use Twitter Search to find exactly what you are looking for. You can also narrow your results down further using search operators or advanced search. Pay attention to re-tweets as they will also point you in new directions for discovery.

5) Toluu

Toluu is in the business of discovery. Toluu, with mathematical precision matches you to new feeds and the members that shared them. Follow members with the same relevant feed interests. Toluu has numerous features such as feed suggestions and tagging that ultimately leads to the discovery of more targeted feeds. The deeper you drill down in the system, the better it gets. My favorite feature is the activity feed pictured above. I can see and get suggestions throughout the day about the new blogs that my friends are discovering and sharing.

6) Share and discover with friends through Google Reader.

Consider subscribing to your friend's Google Reader. If your friends read, share and have similar interests, there is a good chance that they are discovering obscure blogs you may or may not know about. I check my friend's Google Reader as often as I check my own for new content.

7) FriendFeed has become a reliable and necessary tool on so many levels. On FriendFeed, the most obvious way to find the content that is relative to you, is from your subscriptions. If you are looking for blogs, and or technology related content, find and subscribe to the members who are producing and sharing this material. These members often associate and follow in groups on FriendFeed. It's easy to find them. Try taking advantage of the advanced search function. This not only allows you to search your friend's content, but FriendFeeds entire user base, including rooms. FriendFeed is aggregating data from over 48 web services, so you should have a pretty high hit rate for finding whatever it is you are searching for. I will also scan the FriendFeed Google Reader shared public url for a complete random snapshot of what's being shared at any given time. Last but not least, you can join the Share your Google Reader room to find new content.

These are just a few examples of how I find new content. How do you discover new voices?

Read more by Mike Fruchter at