Ferris Bueller warned us: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Too right, Ferris. And the same is true of the tech industry. Tech moves fast. Trends will pop up like burnt toast, then crumble; apps will come and go; and Facebook will add features that are sneaky and go a little too far. These are the natural laws of tech.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the constant movement in tech and the near-daily launch of hip new products and apps and sites, check out these great ways to keep up with the scene.
LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are awesome resources for push notifications about tech trends and news. Start following, liking, and joining all the UX groups you can find, and get in on the major industry news sites like Mashable, TechCrunch, and Smashing.
As a bonus, Twitter also serves well as an informal forum. Add the right hash tag after a question or a prompt, and you'll get all manner of useful industry responses.
While the information available in the Twittersphere can also be overwhelming, using the List feature in Twitter can help you track niche topics that are important to you.
Level of Effort: Super Low
Return on Investment: Hot trends, cool stuff
If you're not into social media or you like to keep it personal rather than professional, you'll have to be a little more active in your consumption of tech news - but you'll still be able to find the day's tech gems. Bookmark sites like Boxes and Arrows, A List Apart, Wired, and Gizmodo.
Level of Effort: Low
Return on Investment: Niche news
If you're in the industry, chances are you've got a fair amount of friends, acquaintances, and former colleagues who are also in the industry - or at least peripherally related to something in the industry. Spend some lunch breaks getting up to speed on what they're up to professionally. You might learn about some tech cats that haven't been let out of the bag yet.
Level of Effort: Medium
Return on Investment: Industry secrets, lunch
If you're not familiar, Meetup.com is kind of like online dating, but for friends and like-minded individuals rather than romantic escapades. It's a fantastic resource if you're looking to grow your professional network or get some fresh ideas and perspectives. Find a local meetup for people in UX, people in design, people in research - whatever you want. And if there isn't a Meetup group tailored to what you want, create one!
Level of Effort: Medium
Return on Investment: New skills, new contacts, new clients
Conferences are all over the place - especially tech conferences! You'll get to hear tons of industry celebs share their perspectives and you might even get to see a cool new city. Check out some of the smaller, more niche conferences first to get a feel for the scene. Try ConveyUX, Lean Startup, and TechCrunch Disrupt to get started.
Level of Effort: Super High
Return on Investment: Networking & Learning
Whether your level of engagement in keeping up with the industry is minimal or optimal, we've got a rec for how you can stay up to speed.