I have a hard time keeping track of a large, constantly moving flow of data such as my Twitter timeline and my Tumblr dashboard. It can be such a source of frustration for me, with my somewhat fragile social stamina, to feel inundated by people's comments, updates and to be brutally honest, the trivia of their internet social lives. I'm really not complaining about the subjective quality of their produced content. It is a quantity problem. I love hearing what interesting foods friends are trying in some new restaurant but there are times when I can't cope well with too much of this type of information. This has lead me to limit my Tumblr 'follows' to a hard maximum of 40 people. It seems to be a pretty good number, and without any significant filtering capabilities this limits the content on Tumblr that I am going to allow myself access to. I had similar feelings about Twitter, until recently it dawned on me that there was an obvious solution. I can, with minimal effort, totally abandon my Twitter timeline anytime I want, for as long as I require. Lists.
The first step was to broadly categorise the accounts I follow. I have personal connections, feeds that alert me of product news and updates, blog post updates and so on. Making sure every account had a corresponding 'category' list means that in the majority of cases I can control how often I see 'news' of a particular kind. I only need to check for product updates once in a while, so I can check those only every so often in a batch. I expect that some of these categories might not get used, it may have been my compulsion to organise things with a degree of symmetry that directed me to do this for every account.
After this was complete (a quick task via the web interface) I set about listing some priority groupings. Those people or organisations that I know I want to see virtually every time they tweet. One for Apple news specifically, one for the writers I like to follow. I am in a position whereby when I'm feeling up to it, my timeline can run free, but a lot of the time I am only seeing a selected subset of my timeline. It's working really well so far, and ties in nicely with the list viewing feature of Tweetbot. I don't have the same caution in following new accounts, and honestly feel more comfortable expanding my inflow of information.