Leveraging Collective Insight with Twitter via Collecta

I enjoy news, especially fascinating stories. The New Yorker is chock full of fascinating stories. The New York Times is well written and generally interesting and covers significant stories of the day. There is not one written source that covers everything that I’m interested in. Over the years, I’ve had a set of sources that I go to to try to cover my interest. Some others include Salon, Track and Field News and Engadget. These sources also provide a significant amount of information that I’m not interested in and have to weed through to find stories that resonate with me.

Cable news has never served my needs unless there is a significant event, like the State of the Union or a congressional election. This is mainly because they have time to fill and ratings books to bolster. This is mainly done by sensationalizing single events that don’t point to a larger point. Overblown stories: Natalee Holloway, Terri Schiavo anything to do with Sarah Palin. The Onion had a great parody of this mindless babble in a video “Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere.”

Over the last six to eight months, the people I follow on Twitter have become the primary source of content that I read. Most of the people I follow are people who I leverage as thought leaders. My Twitter feed is by far the best filter for interesting and relevant information I have ever had.

It would be great if I could filter my own twitter feed for just links when I’m ready to consume information, but I haven’t found it.

There are some times that there are real-time stories that I am interested in that my contacts are not tweeting about. For situations like these, I turn to Collecta.

Collecta is a “real-time search engine”. Like any good tool, it can have a variety of uses. I use it to cloud-source my reading on a certain topic, or to get collective feedback on a real-time event.

Examples of how I’ve used Collecta:

Al Franken

When Al Franken finally got elected, it was a big deal. It had taken a long time with lots of boring legal challenges, but immediately gave the Democrats their “fillibuster-proof” 60 seat majority. This was an ideal time to turn to a real-time source which has been the sweet spot for cable news. They intersperse stock footage with “experts” who are talking heads keen on self promotion.

I turned to Collecta and searched “Franken” to see what people were reacting to, and to get the general tone of their responses. To go deeper, I added a “http” requirement, which yielded only links people were sharing about Franken. This yielded an up to the moment stream of articles that people had deemed interesting enough to share. After about 10 minutes of this, I’d gotten a feeling that I understood the story and could move on.

The result of this was that I’d had time to get the reaction of the populous and read 3-4 quality articles by reporters. Cable news in that same time would have been the same stock footage several times and inane babble between arguing pundits. Winner: me.

Sporting Events

When I’m interested in a sporting event that I can’t get access to, Collecta essentially provides play-by-play by very colorful commentators. I especially enjoy getting the instant emotional feedback. I did this after Vanderbilt lost in the NCAA tournament on a buzzer beater. The only way I could have felt more emotional response from it would have to been in a sports bar with a bunch of emoting fans.

So Twitter and Collecta have been significant additions to my life. For anyone who enjoys consuming information with a real time aspect, and who is willing to read, I wholeheartedly recommend this system.

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