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7 Ways to Track Internet’s Trends and Popular News

7 Ways to Track Internet’s Trends and Popular News
Target Trend

    It doesn’t matter if you are a news reporter, a blogger, or just a regular guy who want to find the trends around the Internet, you want to be productive and use as little time as possible to find what’s popular and new.

    For me, I want to stay on top of technology and software related news, and to tell you the truth – I wouldn’t want to spend more than a tick to get what I want to see, or find out if it is popular. I want to introduce seven ways of tracking trends and popular resources online.

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    Watch Alexa Stat. There are two visit points. Alexa Traffic details and Movers. Alexa Traffic details gives you access on web site traffic estimations based on Alexa’s users population. With the dynamically generated graph, You could compare up to five different sites on traffic. Alexa Movers provides you with a view on which sites gain the most traffic recently. It is a terrific way to track on sites which have just hit the upward traffic (which is what we call a trend on the Internet). If you are using Firefox, download SearchStatus. It’s an excellent extension with Alexa Ranking display plus other great information on the site.

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    Alexa ranking on Digg and Slashdot

      Track Technorati. It is a blogging search engine. “Does it do searches only?”, you ask. For trend watcher, they have three more things for you – a popular page which shows the popular videos, movies, news and books bloggers have written about; a tag page which displays the popular tags for the hour. It also could help you to track posts which bloggers have tagged; and third, if you take a look at the tag search result, you see a nice trend graph. Take Apple iPhone for example, let’s see how the trend goes at the moment:

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      Technorati Trend Graph

        Look at PageRank. Not as useful as other methods, but it shows you overtime how many external pages have been linked to the page you are on. PageRank depends on the volume of incoming links. Number of incoming links can be one of the ways to judge if the content is worthwhile at all. I recommend SearchStatus instead of Google Toolbar to get the PageRank info as SearchStatus is more lightweight with tons of features.

        Read Digg. It is great. Sometimes it gets news much faster than mainstream media and bloggers. But sometimes the news that hit frontpage are just plain useless for me. So subscribe or read a specific topic section.

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        Read Slashdot. I know, it is pretty old school. But they still feature some breaking news about the technical and technology industry.

        Read news aggregators. Instead of going to newspaper sites and read breaking news and trends, subscribe aggregators like Google News and Techmeme.

        Use your Feed Readers. Find several frequently updated sites with feeds. Subscribe their feed with your feed reader. Track them all at once. As this is your own selections, I recommend to keep down the number of subscriptions, or at least categorize your feed into two areas. A trend watching area which is an area you read often, and Others which is a folder with less important feeds. Keep the noise vs signal ratio low.

        Hope these seven ways will save you time on tracking trends and popular stuff online. Got any more tips? Comment them here or send them to tips at lifehack.org

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        Leon Ho

        Founder of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on January 21, 2020

        Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

        Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

        Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

        This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

        The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

        The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

        Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

        Curiosity

        Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

        People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

        Patience

        Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

        When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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        Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

        A Feeling for Connectedness

        This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

        A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

        The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

        How to Self-Taught Effectively

        With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

        1. Research

        Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

        Learning the Basics

        Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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        Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

        What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

        Hitting the Books

        Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

        Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

        Long-Term Reference

        While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

        My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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        2. Practice

        Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

        A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

        Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

        Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

        3. Network

        One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

        These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

        Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

        Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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        4. Schedule

        For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

        Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

        Final Thoughts

        In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

        If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

        At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

        More About Self-Learning

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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