Still in the progress of rethinking my online reading habits. About three weeks ago, I deleted every feed from my Google Reader and decided to start over, and I’ve been slowly adding feeds as I come across things of interest. But I’ve also been looking at different avenues to find the most interesting, most relevant stuff, and, most importantly, to shift my reading to include more diversity. Here are just some unsorted reflections and benchmarks so far.

  • I’ve stopped subscribing to all but a handful of edublogs. For some time now it’s been feeling like there’s not much new in the conversation. I may be guilty of that as well, and I think that’s a product of my narrow scope of reading.
  • My main source of reading right now is my Delicious network, which I am constantly revisiting. I’m thinking that for me at least, 50 people is about the right amount of flow. This is without question, however, not a very diverse group of folks in terms of read/write web worldview. It’s almost all info candy. I continue to find it really interesting, however, to see the types of reading themes that people dive into as it tells much about where a particular person’s thinking or research is at.
  • I’m finding myself devoting more time to the “friend’s shared items” in my Google Reader, which is a good and bad thing. The bad is that the “friends” list is generated by who is in my Gmail contacts which means I can’t add or delete folks from this stream without some difficulty. The good, however, is that there is some diversity in there as some of my contacts actively read and share thinking that is outside of my box at least. It’s been a main part in pushing my thinking about the whole “21st Century Skills” label, about which my thinking has been evolvoing quite a bit. (Short answer: Not much new there, but the label has some value.)
  • This post by Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read/Write Web really has my thinking about filter creation a la Clay Shirky. There is something about this experimental phase that I really love, and I’ve been itching to figure out some different ways to identify, collect and sort the most relevant information out there. Not rocket science, and I’m sure others are farther down this road than I, but I’ve been hacking around with PostRank the last couple of days and waiting to see the results. I know that using a sorting feature to bring me only the most saved, commented upon, bookmarked posts from any blogs has it’s downsides, timeliness for one. But I’m playing with the choices.
  • I’m also digging more deeply into the Google News search and subscribe features as well as the Twitter search stuff. For instance, you can do a search for any Tweets that have the word “literacy” and includes a link. Problem is, of course, that it doesn’t catch everything and much of what it does catch is irrelevant.
  • I’m growing increasingly enamored withe Google Notebook as a way to capture the best snippets and ideas for a variety of purposes. More and more, I read with an ear for saving the most salient parts, which is really challenging me to think of my own organizational schemes in a good, but somewhat frustrating way.

So I’m asking for a couple of things, here. First, how do you create diversity in your reading? What strategies do you use and who are some authors that your read to get out of your own boxes? And second, what other ways of filtering information have you come across or do you use to increase your signal to noise ratio?

There is so much to read, and I want to read it all, but I know I can’t. What is most important to me right now is that my reading stretches me and pushes me, not just affirms what I think I already know. I feel bad on some level on giving up many of the blogs I’ve ready for many, many years now. But if I can tap into the strengths of the network and the best filters that are currently out there, I trust that the best thinking and writing from those long-followed sources will float up through my attention stream anyway.

(Photo “Research Team” by Dean Shareski.)