Technology Tracking Methods Part 1: The Problem

This is less an informative lecture than some thoughts on a problem that I run into.

Technology foraging, technology tracking, whatever you want to call it–is hard.

To keep abreast of all the technologies that I feel are necessary, I have to read approximately 50 RSS feeds a day, and sort through the content by hand. I had previously attempted to put together a system that automatically sorted articles by subject and importance, but it didn’t work out so well (this is part of the driving purpose behind a project I’d like to unveil to the public sometime shortly). This means that I have to go through about ~300 articles a day and manually tag/sort them, as well as decide how important they are.

Furthermore, I’m only gleaming the tips of the iceberg–there’s thousands of industry specific scientific articles that I’m missing, not to mention the wealth of information hidden in areas like patents and scientific journals. There’s an incredibly amount of data, and I’m missing huge amounts of it. To adequately track technology, I need to be able to render down all that data into something human readable or searchable.

Is it so surprising, then, that most people (even ones that see the development of technology as critical to their profession) can’t keep up with technology? I have to specifically set aside time to do it and it can get wearying even for me. It doesn’t scale, either. There’s no real way to add more to my tracking abilities as they stand right now without a linear increase in time spent. This means that further tools are needed.

These tools are being worked on right now, and I hope to implement the first step soon, which I’ll discuss briefly in the next blog post. I hope to share parts of my process as I develop them so that others are either inspired to take up the tools I provide, or build their own. The problem is currently poorly served.

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