Tech Talk: Scaling Social Networks - Balancing Virtual Content and Real Life

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Scaling Social Networks - Balancing Virtual Content and Real Life

  • Social Networks are an amazing way for people to connect around the world, sharing information, experiences, and laughter.
  • Social Networks are major distraction in your daily life, taking chunks of your time, and disconnecting you from local interpersonal contact and connection.

Both these statements are true. I find the balance between the two statements tips one way or the other depends on the day.

The Positive/Negative Struggle

If it is a “writing/research” day, the scales tip to the virtual side of the scale. Social media is a great learning tool for me; a way of keeping up with other techies out there, and a way to survey the diversity of opinion that is often simplified in the mass media.

On the other hand, a day full of hands-on teaching / troubleshooting  / client connections moves the scale towards Real Life. Those are the days when you realize that social networks stream a lot of information 24 hours a day / 7 days a week whether you are available for it or not. It’s relentless!
How Relentless is It?

Twitter streams an average of 500 million tweets per day (follow it here in real-time!). Facebook users create 2,460,000 pieces of content per minute (messages, pictures, etc.).

Even the most dedicated user can be overwhelmed at times with the enormity of information. The challenge is how to keep the scales balanced. One way to do this is by using a “curating” service.


Curating services take information and organize it for easier and more convenient consumption. We take information we read and hear throughout our day, internally organizing it and sharing it, when appropriate, in a refined form to others we know might be interested. That is really all curating is.

Just as a museum curator organizes artworks to improve the experience, curation services can improve how you consume content from social networks and the Internet.

The Tweeted Times

An an example, The Tweeted Times uses access to your Twitter account to combine tweets and links of people you follow into an attractive online paper that is updated hourly. If a linked story is tweeted by more than one of your followed friends (or a friend of a friend), it is given a higher “grade” and placed higher in the list. 

Besides hosting your paper, The Tweeted Times also has curated posts from major newspapers and personalities. Using Twitter’s list feature, a curated collection people can subscribe to tweets by list members in groups diverse as “Journalists Unplugged” or .”no-blab-just-design-links.”

While The Tweet Times’ approach lets you aggregate your Twitter easily, it isn’t very customizable, especially if your goal is to share your resulting paper with others. You have to make sure you are following the right people for your audience.

If you would like more flexibility in the look, feel, and content makeup of your papers, should be something to consider. Like The Tweeted Times, it can pull content from your Twitter account, but it also will do so from Facebook, RSS feeds, YouTube Channels, and Google+. can also filter each source, delete or move resulting articles and have more control over the paper publishing process. There is a professional version of the service that might be attractive to businesses who wish to use the paper as an information and promotional tool.

If you are less interested in aggregating the online content for yourself and more interested in hands-on curation of content for others,, might be the tool that interests you.

Besides your accounts and searches of’s database of links, you can add a “bookmarklet” to your web browser to pull in articles you’ve found on your own. Regardless of the source you are limited to 5 “scoops” a day unless you chose their Pro upgrade.


For my purposes,, and The Tweeted Times do a good job with less effort than provides me the extra control for tweaking content.

You are free to browse my papers, Legacyworks Tech Review ( and Boston LegacyWorks (The Twitter Times) and, of course, try out building a paper yourself. Though both papers are free, they require using sign on through Twitter (and Facebook in the case of

Twitter and Facebook manage their own account access, not these curation services. That means you can revoke access at any time through Twitter’s Applications section in Settings or Facebook’s Apps Settings once you are signed in.

Even if you don’t chose to create your own paper, browse the papers available on all three of these sites. You may find an interesting area to explore or an unexpected news source.

Do you have a follow up on this topic or technical question on that needs to be answered or explored? Please share it with me at Your question may show up here on Tech Talk.


Mark McVeety,  May 31, 2014 at 11:56 PM  

Great Article! Brian Boston has presented more than once to QuickStart Shoreline and always delivers relevant and timely information. I'm always glad to read his articles!

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