Americans of all ages cheered and chanted, proclaiming their patriotism and love for their country last night upon hearing news of Osama bin Laden’s death.

Pictures were streaming across Facebook and Twitter, illustrating how different college campuses across the nation were celebrating this historic moment. Since it’s finals week on my campus, there wasn’t much time for celebration, but I’m told that “USA!” cheers echoed around the library.

Although this is a truly amazing event on its own, it’s also interesting to consider how college students are gathering and spreading information.

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The age of new media is truly exciting – one that all of us can use to learn and gain information. According to this article, the news of Osama’s death spread across Twitter before the President even made his announcement. Impressive.

How did you find out about Osama bin Laden’s death? According to an ongoing poll conducted by Mashable, almost 40 percent of respondents discovered the news via Twitter. Facebook has come in second so far with 20 percent.

Even though social media websites raise lots of questions about ethics and privacy, there is no doubt an event like this shows just how powerful these websites can be in helping the world uncover the news.

However, even though these technologies are extremely helpful, it is easy to become overwhelmed by information. It’s hard to stay informed about everything all the time.

Here are some tricks and hints on how to become more informed and manage your time online:

1. Use Twitter effectively

While some people our age have decided to use Twitter to make meaningless comments about their day-to-day lives, this is not what Twitter is for. It is a tool for newsgathering – a means of gathering information – and if you use it for this, you will learn so much more about the world around you. Following people or organizations that you are interested in helps you prioritize your sense of news and help you stay in the know.

2. Find an online reader

While I’ve become partial to Netvibes, there are many other websites that can help you sort through all the information that is thrown at you on a daily basis. I would recommend adding a local newspaper, your university and a national newswire for starters. Then, you can add in your favorite blogs and websites. Not only is all the information aggregated for you, but you can also save things to read later when you have time.

3. Stumble your heart away

StumbleUpon is one of the best tools out there for college students. Not only is a great way to procrastinate your studies, but it helps compartmentalize the vast array of what’s floating around the Web. You can plug in your interests and find out more about what interests you. For example, if you are a psychology major and you pick psychology as one of your topics, you will find lots of interesting studies and news articles when you stumble. It’s a great way to learn more about the world around you.

4. TED Talks = amazing

If you are ever in the mood to be inspired, to learn more about the world or consider the endless possibilities the future holds, then this is the place for you to visit. TED Talks features the opinions and commentary of some of the most interesting people in the world. It’s hard not to find something you’re interested in – and learn more about the world around you.

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  • Michael Saltzman

    Great topic — I had plans to write a future article very similarly in content but am glad to see other students our age are recognizing the power of social media. Good read!