Slowing the Twitter Information Torrent

I just finished paring down my number of Twitter follows from 55 to 25.

Image from
Image from

Compared to other bloggers who write about technology and culture, I realize it’s a miniscule number.  But as of this writing, I find it burdensome to attempt to keep up to speed with Twitter.  Like blogger Cheri Lucas Rowlands, whose Writing Through the Fog is one of my must-reads,  I’ve felt that attempting to keep pace with a sizable Twitter feed seems like trying to be keep a giant sponge saturated, with no time to wring it out:

Sometimes I envision my Twitter feed as rushing water: my presence is a dam, and each tweet is debris making its way downstream. It’s now a challenge to let information simply flow—to let tweets swim by without me seeing or interacting with them. But because of this constant, obsessive reading and absorbing of everything on the Internet, I cannot write.

I also want to write more.  I want to strike a better balance consuming and creating media.  I want to cast a line and snag a Tweet now and then, but not feel the need to spread a net across the torrent.  

Like many of you out there, I find self-directed learning and engagement in the digital age exhilarating, enlightening, confounding, time-consuming, and tricky to navigate.  I could spent all day, everyday, reading interesting essays, interpreting infographics, and watching YouTube videos laid out in front of me on my Twitter feed.   

If we can be possessed by the things we own, we can also be possessed by the information we attempt to consume.  The more online accounts we create, the more follows we amass on Twitter, the greater the burden.  And it is a burden, especially when your job doesn’t pay you to curate information.  I teach, and I desire to stay abreast of new developments and demonstrations of effective teaching and learning.  But with the demands of lesson planning, grading papers, creating sub plans, calling parents, and maintaining a non-digital life, I don’t want to drown myself in information.

How do you curate information on the internet?  Are you a Twitter user?  What do you see as its strengths and weaknesses as a tool?  Besides Twitter, what have you found to be useful websites or tools to manage information flow?


  1. Basically, yes. You can add someone’s feed to your list. You can make them private so they don’t know you’re doing that and then you have a more easily managed way of keeping up.

    I have a few lists with about 20 people on so I can focus on them rather than the 6000 others!

    I do hate to miss out on breaking news. Makes me regret not clicking a hashtag to see what the fuss was all about 🙂

  2. Greetings Issac,
    Recently, if I’m not engrossed in a book, or don’t have anything in particular that I need to read for work, I’ll check my Tweets and perhaps click on a link or two…
    For those interested in amassing a blog readership or Twitter followers, it really does take work–work I’m not interested in doing right now. Honestly, as much as I enjoy writing, devoting so much energy into social media would be TEDIOUS if I relied on writing in the digital age to pay the bills.

  3. I’m surprised your students aren’t in to it…Twitter seems to have eclipsed Facebook in popularity amongst the high schoolers here in Kentucky long ago. I’m not sure how many students utilize Twitter to any worthwhile degree, as far as exploring ideas, following thinkers, etc.

  4. Hi Pete,
    Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t tested the lists function–I’m assuming that’s a filter to make your feed more focused?
    Twitter is amazing for breaking news. Do you feel like you’re missing out if you hear about something big happening 24 hours after the Twitterverse?

  5. Honestly, I’ve been on Twitter for a few months and still don’t get the appeal. I try to mostly follow a few magazines relevant to my interests, but even that generates a stream of tweets I can’t possibly keep up with.

    Once in a while I’ll see something that looks interesting and check it out, but most of the time I feel like if I don’t consciously check myself, I’ll just get sucked in and be carried away by the torrent. So I totally understand what you’re saying with being possessed by the information we attempt to consume.

  6. I try every year with Twitter, then I give up. The log jam is permanently jammed. Some of my friends swear by its usability. It just stresses me out. I would much rather read a blog. Why do I need to look at a feed to find a hash tag to find a link to a blog? My students aren’t in to it either.

  7. Twitter can very quickly become too difficult to manage. i use lists to read tweets from my friends or people I’ve interacted with. I like to keep my follow/following around the same number and cannot keep up otherwise.

    That way I only actually read tweets from about 50 people on a regular basis. When I’m on my home page the new tweets number quickly runs into hundreds and thousands. Too many to keep track.

    I do find Twitter a great way to keep up with friends and brilliant for breaking news. If something of interest happens in the world, then it’s trending in no time. 🙂

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