Neetzan Zimmerman: What I Read

The founder of the Daily What explains his Media Diet

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How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? Do they have some secret? Perhaps. We are asking various friends and colleagues who seem well-informed to describe their media diets. This is from an interview with Neetzan Zimmerman, a professional, full-time blogger of Internet ephemera: cat photos, baby videos, video game tributes and the latest in memes and geek culture. His site, The Daily What, was recently snapped up by the Cheezburger Network, the organization behind the wildly popular Lolcats.

I wake up around 6:30, 7:00 every day and immediately go to my computer. I usually have about 1,000 posts from 700 or so websites waiting for me in my Google Reader. I go through every single one, so I have my morning content waiting for me after I get ready. I also go through a bunch of other sites that aren’t as convenient to read in feed form, such as the link sites Digg or Reddit. I want to make sure that if there’s something that looks like it could go viral, it’s on my website.

The first thing I do is post a good morning video -- I call it the Early Bird Special. I usually have that in the queue from the night before and that is the official opening bell for the day, around 8:30. It’ll be like a cute cat or something. Nothing too heavy to start the day.

Immediately after that, I’ll post my morning links and that’s the initial roundup of things you’ll need to know to start the day. I try to focus on tech stuff, Internet culture stuff, nothing too newsy. I have games in there, things like that – just time-wasters mostly for people getting into work. Not that we want them to waste time while they’re working. Not at all. I’ll spend about another hour or so queuing up maybe four or five posts. I’m in competition with other blogs that also see this content, so I want to make sure I get stuff out before they do.

Starting around 10:00 it's mostly touch-and-go. My Reader is open as I constantly look for new posts. It’s sort of a two-tier structure. I have the larger websites that are doing what I’m doing like Boing Boing and Neatorama, Urlesque, which is an AOL website, Videogum, and the websites that are associated with large corporations or are large themselves. I want to make sure that I’m getting things in before they do, or at least don’t miss whatever they’re doing. Once something is up on one of those site it’s gone mainstream – as mainstream as the Internet gets.

The second tier of that would obviously be the smaller sites with good content. The High Definite deals in similar content and they have a lot of great content that might not otherwise be seen by a larger audience. Another great example is Superpunch. That’s a website that some of the upper-level sites depend on for content, but it has never managed to become something as large as they are.

I sort sites into categories: one for video or for sites that deal with funny photos, things like that. I try not to go to the same sources on a regular basis, because that’s what a lot of larger websites depend on. They have a pool of maybe 20 websites they visit on a regular basis, but that infuriates me. You have to make sure that you’re posting in the right order, too -- it becomes sort of a science. As silly as that sounds, there is a method. The moment something hits Boing Boing, you’ve waited too long. To some degree they’re working on the defensive because they pick stuff up that’s already trending. I won’t get as much attention directed towards me if I don’t post that first.

From about 10:00 to maybe 5:00 that’s non-stop. I’ll have either CNN or MSNBC on TV in the background so I don’t miss anything big, but basically I’m just sitting with my computer, eating in front of my computer. Obviously, I’ll do whatever the government recommends for eye strain, but for the most part I’m right there in front of my computer. I have my afternoon roundup, which is probably the biggest one. It picks up everything that I didn’t post during the day, so it’s all the newsy items and everything that’s going on in the world. That goes up around 3:00 or 4:00.

After 5:00, things start to taper off. The East Coast basically rules Internet culture. Cheezberger is based out of Seattle and I’ve been there a few times. It’s really difficult to do what I do on a regular basis if you’re somewhere out there, so I have a lot of respect for Slog, The Stranger blog, LAist and all those websites that deal with the time difference. That’s just because the realities of who is posting content online and where they’re located. Buzzfeed, they’re located in New York, Urlesque is in New York.

So once 5:00 hits, I’ll get a snack, maybe I’ll watch some television. I’ll usually have most of the content I want for that evening already lined up. I also have the late-night roundup, which is the more saucy one that goes up around 8:00 or so. It’s a pleasure, I love doing this, but basically, on a regular day, everything wraps up around midnight.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.