How I Stay Informed as a Developer

With software development constantly in flux, it has taken quite an effort to dial in my system for staying informed. “The right tool for the right job” is the name of the game.

Digests

I am a huge fan of digests/newsletters! There’s just SO much information published every week/day/hour, and I am grateful that others are willing to dig through it all and publish what they think are the best parts. Some digests are sent daily, but I prefer the weekly ones.

Also, I use Google Inbox’s Bundle feature to collect all of these digests, and hide them until a designated time the next day. I do wish the time of day was configurable, but 7am will do for now...

Design

Dev

News

Other

  • The Hacker News Newsletter
  • Flipboard 10 for Today
  • Flipboard Sunday Edition
  • Flipboard Week in Review
  • Medium Digest
  • Quora Digest
  • Pocket Hits
  • Youtube (weekly email of subscriptions/recommendations)

Twitter

I use Twitter for one thing: following developers. It is a great platform for following public discussions and seeing links/retweets of useful resources.

Using the timeline

I don’t want to miss any tweets, so I have Tweetmarker save my position in the timeline. When I open Tweetbot for Mac or Flamingo for Android, I am able to pick up from where I left off, not just from the top of the timeline. FOMO, no mo’!

When I do have time to check Twitter, I skim it. If a tweet looks like something worth digging in to, I Like it and keep moving. At the end of the day, following the "Inbox Zero" approach, I try to read through all of these Likes, un-Liking them as I go. It doesn't matter what Twitter rebrands the feature to, I'll always use it as a read-it-later system.

Focus

Developers are people, with non-developery things they’d like to talk about. This is a great use of Twitter, but does not fit with how I want to utilize it. Fortunately, Tweetbot’s Mute Filters has my back! It hides all tweets with words like "Trump", "Hilary", "election", "religion", etc in them.

Sometimes, despite a person having great thoughts and tweets, they’re just too chatty for me to handle in my system. So, I just Unfollow and rely on others to retweet the highlights.

Github

I use the hell out of Github’s Subscribe feature for Issues and Pull Requests, which sends me an email when someone responds in a thread. It helps me get a gauge for when a feature will land, and how it is being considered.

When I have a pain point with a project, I search its repo for an active Issue/PR and Subscribe. I also periodically check repos of projects I rely on to see if there are new, good threads to subscribe to.

Sometimes, when I really care about the activity of a repo, I temporarily Watch it. In doing so, I am auto-subscribed to all Issue/PR activity.

Blogs

Back in the Google Reader days, I was an avid RSS user, slurping in 100+ posts/day. I treated it the way I treat Twitter today: as a reading list.

I suppose I still use Feedly as a reading list, but I follow significantly fewer blogs. I’d love to just be able to reduce this service into a single, weekly digest.

Dev

Other

Podcasts

I use Pocket Casts because it is cross platform (including browser), syncs progress, and has a speed-up option. For speakers without strong accents, I enjoy listening at 1.5x speed.

When I get in the car to drive to work, I turn on my bluetooth receiver. Turning it on auto-launches Android Auto on my phone, which has Pocket Casts positioned prominently at the top. Pocket Casts is configured to play through all downloaded podcasts, so I just press Play, and I’m on my way.

Design

Dev

Other

Wrapping it up

I’m happy with this system. It isn’t easy by any means — I spend at least an hour a day consuming content — but it has kept me sane, and well informed.

Do you have a system? I’d love to hear about it!