How I Filter The Noise, Wayne Sutton

with 13 Comments

WayneSuttonWayne Sutton is an entrepreneur, strategist, and producer who blogs at He is also co-founder of OurHashtag, a community and technology event company.

Some describe noise as irrelevant content in reference to a subject matter when looking at data in a particular channel. Noise can be spam. Noise can be repeat content from the echo-chamber of the world wide web. Either way, filtering the noise should be on everyone’s mind today as we’re evolving from the static web to the conversational web to the real-time in your face web.

As someone who loves technology, gadgets and information, the real-time web is a geeks’ dreamland, but it’s also a huge time waster if you don’t have filters setup. Not only do you need filters to manage information gathering and filtering information online, but you also need self control. There are plenty of tools available, but it’s how well you manage those tools to filter the noise. Below are a few of the tools that I use.

RSS Reader

waynesutton-foldersTo manage my RSS feeds, I use Google Reader, just like Jason and Taylor. I’m currently subscribed to over 1600 feeds, each categorized into groups by topic.  Some of my groups include WordPress, Social Media, business, mac news and mobile. My RSS feeds list continues to grow, therefore having them categorized is very important. Inside of Google Reader I have a personal star rule. I star items that I want to read later and share items that I think others will find interesting. In other words, RSS feeds are not dead, and are very important to the social web.

Social Bookmarks

For social bookmarks, I use Diigo to bookmark blog posts that I may not be subscribed to, and save them to content-based groups. I have set up groups for topics like wordpress plugins and wordpress premium themes for blog posts pertaining to each.


For real-time information,  FriendFeed is my home base, but like Google Reader and Diigo, I have created lists for my subscriptions. Also in FriendFeed I use the save search feature to easily track content/conversations. Since everyone still hasn’t embraced the power of FriendFeed and more people are flocking to Twitter, to filter out real-time tweets I had to create multiple Twitter accounts. I have my main Twitter account, where I’m following almost everyone who follows me. But to stay connected to my local NC community, I’ve create a local Twitter account where I follow about 150 individuals. I even have another Twitter account where I follow select individuals and blogs based on content. To manage various Twitter accounts I use web/desktop applications such as TweetGrid, Hootsuite, Tweetie and CoTweet depending on the need.

Gmail Filters

Filtering day to day activities involves constant email management with filters I’ve created in Gmail, which need to be constantly updated. Filtering emails and setting time slots to read emails daily and weekly can increase productivity so you’re not always checking your inbox. The same rules apply to a select list of blogs that I’ve created where I “try” to read and comment on daily.

Brand Reputation

When dealing with clients and brand reputation, businesses can filter the noise depending on the customer base and engagement level. Tools like filtrbox, trendrr, blogpulse trackur and tons more can do a lot of work for you if setup and use them correctly.


Needless to say, filtering the noise is about being organized and having the right tools in place and accessible. Therefore my iPhone is always nearby, able to access almost the same content when I’m mobile. lazyfeed-logoThen the challenge becomes filtering your time after you have filtered the noise. New web apps and tools are created daily, such as lazyfeed, to constantly push and gather information in front of us and filter that information will become more important as we continue to use the web as a learning and communication platform…. Good luck.

SERIES How I Filter the Noise – Jason Keath, Taylor Davidson, Beth Harte, Hermione Way, Wayne Sutton

13 Responses

  1. covati

    I've taken to using searches in Seesmic Desktop (amongst several twitter accounts) as a great way to keep my twitter feeds digestible.

    I must admit that my use of RSS has fallen by the wayside, it's pretty much just twitter and reddit.

  2. jakrose

    I don't know if any of us could keep up with the amount of RSS that Wayne
    does. But I have have peeled back a lot of my RSS as well. I focus my Google
    Reader on people, either what my friends share or what they write on their
    personal blogs.

  3. NatMich

    Good post. You listed a lot of interesting tools and in general sound like a very organized guy :). From what I can see, there seem to be two general ways to deal with/filter web noise:

    1) save for later (social bookmarking and that sort of thing)- time filtering?
    2) filter what even makes it to you by either using an RSS feed where you select what matches with your interests, or by using a tool that has some algorithm for determining what information is relevant (the tools you listed under “brand reputation”).

    I think both are incredibly useful (and often necessary) but find that on the “storage” end I can often develop quite an overwhelming build up :S. Typically, the tools that have been most useful for me thus far have fallen into the later category- things like Tweetdeck and Ensembli.

    This LazyFeed sounds intriguing… Wanted to try it out but it looks like you need a promotional code :( ?

  4. jakrose

    True. Find something that filters by relevance or filters by time. I would
    say using smart people is another, but I suppose that is another kind of

    Will check on LazyFeed invites and see if I can get some for the blog.

  5. jakrose

    True. Find something that filters by relevance or filters by time. I would
    say using smart people is another, but I suppose that is another kind of

    Will check on LazyFeed invites and see if I can get some for the blog.

  6. Taylor Davidson

    @waynesutton: I've always wondered what one of the hardest working men in social media uses to keep up with everything…

    Do you know of any stats around RSS usage? I hear the buzz that nobody really uses RSS anymore, but I a) haven't any numbers to prove it and b) think that the “problem” with RSS isn't the tech or the tools but the way we use it. I'll admit that there is plenty of room for innovation in the tools we use, building in filters, social rankings, etc., but it's still a pretty powerful tool if you know how to use it.

    I'm glad you're following 1600 feeds so I don't have to :)

  7. Ryan

    Jason, I vote that the next guest post series should be: “How I create the noise” featuring spammers, trolls, and bots.

  8. jakrose

    Ha, nice. Find some anonymous spammers to tell all. Maybe you could compose
    a fiction post as satire from that perspective?

  9. Wayne Sutton

    Jason, thanks creating the “How I filter the noise” blog series. It has been interesting to read how others filter information online and it seems most people are trying to filter information on Twitter and various blogs. I'm glad I was able to contribute.

  10. Wayne Sutton

    Taylor, not… :)

    Sorry I don't have any stats around RSS usage. I wish I did though to prove some people wrong on how people are still using RSS feeds. BTW, I enjoyed your post and pictures from your recent trip.

  11. […] 7. Ok, there’s lots of talk about “Filtering the Noise.”  MiniFail official stance on noise:  The next generation develops the filters organically.  Sorry young pups, Jason Keath and Wayne Sutton are teaching old dogs Your tricks. […]

  12. ML Vanessa

    Thank you for sharing the ways that you minimize online noise and distractions. It's very easy to get sucked into checking your email all of the time and trying to keep up with the overload of information coming at you daily. Especially when it's available at your desk and when you're mobile. You express a great amount of discipline that many could model to stay focused and practice good time management :)

  13. arinewman

    Some good suggestions in here Wayne! Wanted to let you know about a cool feature in Filtrbox that allows you to track (and get real-time alerts) when specific people talk about specific topics on Twitter. Andrew Hyde @andrewhyde did a how-to video here.

    If you haven't played with the G2 version, drop me a line and I'll set you up with a trial account!