I'm an avid user of Google Reader as my portal to new stories on the internet. I've noticed the following patterns in terms of the timing in which I read new content:
I tend to get most new content within 4 hours of being released, driven by sources like Scoble ("Items Shared by Scobleizer.com"), DiggFeedr, Valleywag and Mashable:
- Scoble tends to be the single person who finds and filters content that is relevant to me. I read 11% of Scoble's shared items, which is quite a lot.
- DiggFeedr gets me the top 100 stories of the moment from Digg - and links me directly to the source content instead of dumping me into the sophomoronic discussions on Digg. Of course, I skip over all articles on Ron Paul, anything that says "pwned", any Borat content and all things about putting electronic devices into blenders. In short, I read only 6% of Digg content. (BTW, DiggFeedr is now called Feeddit. Did they get strong armed by Digg about the name?)
- Valleywag gets a lot of my attention because they tend to report news before it's official. They tend to be quite accurate, at least according to my standards. I read 16% of Valleywag content.
- Mashable is a very high-quality news source focusing on social networking and I read 10% of their stories.
About 25% of stories I read come from the above. Since I have about 400 sources, these are my top 1%. So I'd say there's probably some 80-20 thing going on here in total. OK, so what have I noticed about how news spreads (at least in terms of how I come into contact with it):
- New content tends to be first picked up by Digg or someone like Scoble. With Scoble, you can be sure that the content is motivated by intelligence. With Digg, chances are the the content is what I might call "geekity" (sort of technical, very "geeky", kind of interesting but not very useful).
- Within two days, content appears on hundreds or thousands of blogs.
- About a week later, the content makes it way over to CNN.com.
- Local newspapers pick it up a week after that.
- About 2-3 months later, the story gets reported in a so-called "magazine" like PCWorld or Computerworld. They always tend to be behind the times. Perhaps it's their publishing timeline, or perhaps their too big, or perhaps they are too focused on hardware and haven't yet figured out that content these days is only "fresh" for perhaps 1-2 weeks tops.
This is the modern Attention Economy that we live in.