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Don't Make Me Go To Your Website! - The 5 Ways I Consume Information In The Web 2.0 World

Do you ever go to a website on a frequent basis to see if it has been updated? Do you go to a bookmark you have or click on a toolbar icon or even just type in the URL into your browser address bar?

Do you do that for this website? Do you NOT subscribe to the feed but rather just come here from time to time to see if anything new is here?

If not this site, do you do this for another site? How often do you go and visit the site? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Randomly?

I had an exchange today with someone I greatly respect and in the course of the conversation I realized that the reality is:

I don't really go to any websites these days on a regular basis.
I don't go to friends' websites. (Sorry!) I don't go to my employer's website. I don't go to any organization's websites. I don't go to my city's website. Every once in a while I might hit CNN's web page or a weather site, but that's about it. I do go to Facebook's page and Google Apps pages, but I think of those more as applications and communications services.

I don't have time in my daily work or home schedule... even though going up to my Bookmarks menu, choosing a link and then waiting for the page to load isn't a whole lot of time, it is some time... and if I get there and nothing has changed, it is wasted time. So I don't do it.

The only reason I visit a web site these days is generally if either:
1. The website turns up in a search result.
2. I get notified that there's something interesting there that I should look at.
3. Random times when for some reason I decide to go there, perhaps remembering a URL for a site I wanted to check out.

That's it. (Note that I do get the content of many websites through the ways I mention below, but I don't actually go to those websites and see their page.)

As I think about it, my consumption of information online really comes down to five ways:

  1. E-mail, although I get too much of it read it all.
  2. Twitter, where I see links from people or services that I follow.
  3. RSS feeds where my reader pulls it in and I quickly scan through the posts.
  4. Skype persistent group chats where I'm connected to several different groups of people on various topics.
  5. Searching for data, typically using Google.

The key thing is that, with the exception of search:

All the data comes to me!
Email is in my inbox, either on my laptop or my Blackberry. Feeds end up in my newsreader. Twitter I usually read in an IM chat window where I can scan it and search it. Skype groupchats I obviously read in Skype. I whip through and scan the info fast, clicking links if I want to see them and potentially firing off replies. I visit web pages only because I've seen an email with info and a link, or someone's twittered the link or posted it in a Skype groupchat... or because of a link in some item in my RSS feeds.

For better or worse (and I can argue philosophically that it might be worse), that's how I consume data. Funny thing is, I know I'm not alone. This is the "Web 2.0" way. Let me pull your data in some way and I'll consume it.

Don't make me go to your website to get updates. I won't.

So if a website has an RSS feed (or a Twitter feed), I'll subscribe and see when there are updates. Otherwise, I'll probably just only go there on random times when I think of it. Which, unfortunately, won't be often. I'm living in the blur.

Are you?

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