The secret to staying on top (of the news)

Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson speaks with the Atlantic Wire about how he stays informed without falling victim to the constant torrent of information.

“As a monthly magazine editor, I’m professionally almost obligated not to be distracted by the daily news. If I get caught in the news cycle, it just throws us off. We end up chasing the news ineffectually. It does leave me curiously oblivious to the stuff going on around us sometimes. I only heard about the Super Bowl a week afterward.”

Now, because of the iPad, Anderson has started reading magazines he’d forgotten about, like Business Week, which tends to pile up and become stale fast. He still reads print copies of the weekly New Scientist, although usually waits until he has about four and “plow through them as if it were a monthly.”

But that doesn’t mean he avoids the daily grind, he tells the Atlantic Wire:

“Basically, I have a feed-centric media diet. Things come to me through various means–Twitter, RSS, email. But I don’t have bookmarks, and typically I don’t go to any website as a routine, aside from those I run.

“In the morning, I open Google reader. The feeds are largely in order of fires-I-have-to-put-out-first. There’s very little pleasure in it, just making sure the doors are locked and the taps are off and the oven’s not on.”

He tells Atlantic Wire that he has three categories: media, business and robotics. He starts with the business sites he counts on (Silicon Valley Insider, the Wired Epicenter blog,

“Then, I’m not proud of this, but I do check Gawker every morning. They tend to cover the media industry well. I’d like to say it’s a love-hate relationship with Gawker, but in truth I have total, unmitigated respect for what Nick Denton has done. Even when they come after me, which is not infrequent, they’re generally pretty fair. My hat’s off to them. Even though I do sort of have to read them between my fingers.”

All that before having his morning shower. He admits he doesn’t have much time to read during the day, other than emails and Twitter feeds. During the day he’ll read headlines, but rarely clicks on them.

“When you look at the strategy of my media diet, which is to ignore the noise, I think that is subconsciously an effort to avert the ADD, the focus on the shiny superficiality that Nick Carr warns about. At this point, my media diet reflects what actually seems to make my life better. I made a conscious decision to shield myself from the conventional notion of what people should be consuming on a daily basis. It wouldn’t allow me to focus on the things I do want to focus on–more long-wave things. Once I identify a long-wave trend, then my appetite is infinite. Whereas what’s going on in Washington today, I may not hear about it for months.”