How do you filter what you consume from the tech news firehose?

When reading the swathes of content that comes out on cloud and serverless every week, you need to employ a heavy filter to get through it all (or have a load of free time on your hands).

As a fun exercise, I just read back over a few recent email newsletters I subscribe to in the cloud/serverless space to see if I can identify patterns for what catches my eye enough to warrant a click-through.

For your context, my interests (and my business as an indie consultant) lies in helping small autonomous teams (often startups) build products with serverless, mostly on AWS.

Immediate skips

My default action is of course to ignore and skip to the next link, so let’s start with the obvious easy ignores, many of which I’ve almost developed a blindness to:

  • Sponsored stories and jobs
  • Videos — not my format
  • Webinars — more like webin-snores 😴
  • Company X announces new funding round 🤷
  • Azure/GCP announce some feature
  • Anything about exclusively non-serverless techs (EC2, RDS, networking, etc)
  • Anything related to certifications

Glance but probable skip

  • Podcasts — I do love listening to podcasts, but for some reason switching from reading to suddenly listening to audio doesn’t work for me. If I recognise the speaker and it’s on a podcast I’m not subscribed to, I might think of adding it to my Overcast.
  • Almost anything authored under a company name rather than a person’s name (with exception of the occasional AWS blog post)
  • Posts related to micro optimisations (in terms of billing cost or performance)
  • Tutorial-style articles — unless it’s describing some use case that I’ve had problems with in the past, I can always find these in the future via googling if I ever need to do the thing they’re describing.
  • Anything which smells too enterprisey or solutions that would only ever be feasible or relevant in larger companies.
  • Upcoming events — I’ll do a quick scan to see if there’s anything in Ireland, but I’m generally not a big attender of live events, in-person or virtual.

Probable clicks

So what’s left? Not much by this stage! The following categories often warrant a click from me:

  • Opinion pieces on topics where there are a lot of trade-offs to consider
  • Critical pieces of technologies or approaches I use (or am considering using). These help iron out my biases and help me understand other folks’ objections better.
  • An AWS service I use (or plan on using) has added some feature which sounds like it will really improve things
  • A title which falls into one of the Species of Interesting Ideas categories
  • War stories from small teams/startups (not personal projects) who’ve built their product on a serverless stack
  • New tool/approach which claims to solve a painful problem that I or one of my clients has encountered
  • The author is someone who I already know writes thoughtful and concise articles

So these lucky few might pique my interest. And then I either open their article or add it to my Instapaper. And then a whole new set of evaluation criteria kicks in to see if I read on or bounce! But that’s a topic for another day.

What about you? What links always pique your interest in the tech news firehose?

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I publish short emails like this on building software with serverless on a daily-ish basis. They’re casual, easy to digest, and sometimes thought-provoking. If daily is too much, you can also join my less frequent newsletter to get updates on new longer-form articles.

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