How do you keep your finger on the pulse of a region or topic?
October 4, 2014 12:48 PM   Subscribe

How do you (personally) stay current with a subject of interest?

General strategies ("use x technique to find yaddayadda stuff on twitter") and specific tricks ("I follow x, y and z people on twitter to stay current with foo") are both equally welcome.

posted by Michele in California to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Specialist blogs. And occassional twitter searches.
posted by jpe at 12:50 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I put any Wikipedia article(s) on my watchlist. Even for niche topics, I've found that people add news items quickly.
posted by Woodroar at 1:14 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Google alerts (on all variants/spellings if you want to be really picky,) subscribing to listserves, following advocacy groups and institutions on Facebook, various newsletters, a couple of university programs produce really good weekly roundups of conferences/jobs/workshops/calls for papers, and I follow a couple of speciality websites with routine updates. There are also a couple of specialists with public Facebook accounts that update with their blog posts and news of interest.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:23 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I find 2 or 3 people that are really dialed in on Twitter and follow them.
posted by COD at 1:26 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Keyword, author, subject, and table of contents alerts in subscription databases (e.g. ScienceDirect, Computer & Applied Sciences Complete) and Google Scholar, RSS feeds from blogs, trade publications, and preprint archives dumped into a reader, filtered, and auto-sorted into folders (I'm using Newsblur right now), keyword and table of contents alerts from JournalTOCs, keeping an eye on a small number of listservs, and following people on Twitter supplemented w/ad hoc hashtag searches (e.g. for conferences).
posted by ryanshepard at 1:40 PM on October 4, 2014

Google alerts and topical blogs.
posted by harrietthespy at 2:43 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use RSS feeds for every topic organized into folders and I like to check if they are updating in a timely fashion every week or so. Then I join communities with niche groups like Mefi, Reddit (yes, I know), tumblr, and forums. I did try Twitter but tbh, entire format confuses me and I can't exactly archive info as well.

Sometimes I'll try to contact individuals who are familiar with specialized knowledge and ask questions if I can think of anything relevant. Most of it is spending a lot of time sorting feeds into categories.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 8:50 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use the intuitive method; which is, I guess, to read whatever appeals to my imagination at the moment I want to be updated. Automation (eg. RSS) seems to me a terrible trap. I also follow the European news, such as found at or .
posted by bertran at 10:29 PM on October 6, 2014

Best answer: If you do use Twitter to follow authorities on the subject or others interested, be sure to set up a group to add them to -- this will help filter those conversations outside of your normal stream (assuming you use Twitter alot).

Advanced tip: start a blog about said subject to write about your interest. It may afford you some credibility when you need specific information or access ("I write a blog about X, can you tell me more about this part of X"), and you may end up being sent info directly (from tips and comments to press releases). Clearly this takes up a lot more time, but could make you viewed as an authority on the topic... fake it til you make it sometimes is a legitimate tactic.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 11:28 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I actually have several blogs, which is part of why I asked. They have been sort of sandbox-y affairs for a long time and I am trying to get more organized and up my game. A lengthy medical crisis seems to be resolving, during that crisis I did some essential development of certain projects, and now I am at a point where I need be more on top of producing content consistently. I am trying to figure out how to get there from here without just writing really thin & crappy crap as a means to hit a certain number of updates/timeframe.

If anyone is still reading, I am also interested specifically in tips on how to keep current with goings on for a region, say a place you live. A lot of my life is online, so I very much appreciate the online focus of these answers, but I am also wondering specifically about that aspect of meatspace.

Thanks to everyone who has replied. I think it will take me a bit of time to figure out how to implement some of these. I am unfamiliar with, say, google alerts. So odds are good I will come back later and best answer a few more things after I figure out some of this stuff.
posted by Michele in California at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2014

Still reading here; at a not dissimilar place with respect to consistent 'content' creation being needful.

For local pulse there's nothing like walking out on the sidewalk to gather the paper copies of the local publications and reading in the open air. Imo.
posted by bertran at 10:16 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the best way for local news would be reading the newsletters, town bulletins, library postings, and sometimes there are forums for specific towns online. For some areas they have events hosted at public venues or meeting grounds too.

Although, it's hard to say because depending on where one lives it's different from a large city vs small town for how fast a person can be up to date on current events.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 8:37 PM on October 8, 2014

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