Who to follow on Twitter

There’s been a lot of talk in the press recently about Twitter’s move to an algorithmic feed. There’s definite potential if it eases the burden of sifting through our current feed but there’s a real risk that in doing so, Twitter might loose the ‘special sauce’ that makes it so attractive to its current users (it’s worth reading Adam D’Angelo on this).

I figured now might be a good time to give a plug for the Twitter accounts that provide me with a healthy signal to noise ratio and generally avoid double posting (my current pet hate).

Tech, Startups, Media and Marketing

Balaji S. Srinivasan tech analyst, CEO of 21 inc of, board partner of Andreessen Horowitz and blockchain fan.

Ben Thompson technology analyst behind the Stratechery blog and host of the Exponent podcast.

Benedict Evans technology analyst with a focus on mobile who is now working as partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Apparently not a great fan of cultural world of San Francisco despite living there.

Chris Dixon Hunch founder and another Andreessen Horowitz with pointers on the world of technology and startups.

Ian Maude UK based technology, media and internet analyst working for the Be Heard Group.

Marc Andreessen cofounder of Netscape, Loudcloud and now Andreessen Horowitz with strong opinions on technology, economics, the world of startups and politics (libertarian). Bit more noise to signal than the other recommendations.

Om Malik technology analyst, founder of GigaOm and now partner at True Ventures

News and Analysis

If You Only…  Matter cofounder Bobbie Johnson provides a recommended long form journalism read each day.

Max Roser: typically provides an antidote to the naysayers of the world with data that point to human development around the world.

The Economist Daily Charts: provides a regular feed of charts, maps and infographics shedding light on issues in the news.

Tim Harford, journalist who writes as the Undercover Economist at the Financial Times and presenter of More or Less on Radio 4. Great for shining light on some of the issues that matter.

Cycling

Inner Ring: providing updates on the Inner Ring website and announcements from the world of professional cycling

And Me…

Finally, if you’re interested in following me on Twitter, more digital content can be found here and if you like riding bikes there’s here as well.

The featured image is No Amnesia by Pastel in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

What I’m listening to…favourite podcasts and radio shows

For someone who spends a fair bit of time on his bike, podcasts provide a great opportunity to learn and be entertained whilst on the go.  The following provide a run through of the shows that regularly have me hitting the download button:

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY

a16z podcast: Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz’s podcast uses interviews with industry leaders and commentators to shed light on a range of technology and innovation related issues from the startup sector. A case of content marketing that works.

Recent favourite: Interview with Soylent founder Rob Rhinehart.

Benchmark Podcast: Bloomberg created podcast providing a youthful look at the global economy.

Exponent: Ben Thompson and James Allworth provide thoughtful discussion on the intersection of technology, business and society.

Meanwhile in the FutureRose Eveleth puts forward scenarios of what the future might be like and in the process getting listeners to think more clearly about what kind of society they want to live in.

Planet Money: Long running NPR show looking at various stories through the lens of economics – much more entertaining than the blurb might suggest.

Recent favourite:  The tale of the onion king looks at how Vince Kosuga once cornered the market for onions in the US.

Product Hunt Radio: Podcast in which founders, makers and investors from the startup community are interviewed about their products and their own personal journey.

Radiolab: Radio showing coming out of WNYC weaving stories and science together.

Recent favourite: Birthstory looks at how far an Israeli gay couple went to have kids of their own.

Reply All: Podcast looking at the internet and its impact on the society we live in with an irreverent style.

Recent favourite: A look at the experience of students at Colgate University who were subjected to bigoted commentary from anonymous social media app Yik Yak.

StartUp: Podcast series following the ups and downs of starting your own business. The first series follows the founding of podcast network Gimlet Media and the second series profiles the efforts of online dating service Dating Ring.

What’s Tech: Podcast profiling a single technology issue on each show, starting with the basics and expanding out to explore key issues and controversies. Recent shows have covered quantified self, sex tech, biohacking, space colonisation and online advertising.

NEWS AND ANALYSIS

The Inquiry: BBC radio show focuses on one topical issue each week with recent issues covering whether ISIS can be defeated, corruption in Nigeria and Russian geopolitics.

Longform Podcast: Interviews notable journalists about their careers and the stories that have made them. Great insights into the lengths journalists get to the trust and creating a compelling narrative.

More or Less: Behind the Stats: BBC podcast taking a critical look at numbers reported in the news and in many cases pouring cold water on some pretty outlandish claims.

Rear Vision: Radio show from the Australian ABC network looking predominantly at international issues but also occasionally delving into important Australian subjects. Recent coverage has included Muslim immigration into Europe, the recent Turkish and Canadian elections and the lack of plurality in media voices in Australia.

Thinking Allowed: BBC radio show profiling new research predominately with an ethnographic slant with recent coverage including TTIP, non religious cultures, singlehood and social class in its various forms.

The Weeds: If you’re interested in the interface between politics and policy, this podcast from the Vox will provide plenty of food for thought. Pretty US centric in terms of the policy issues covered but the discussions and conclusions are equally relevant for most developed countries.

ARTS AND CULTURE 

99% Invisible: Podcast about design and architecture with recent shows including a look at the history of Monopoly, drinking fountains and the military’s quest for rations that last for ever that the troops actually want to eat.

Recent favourite: Children of the Magenta covering the perils of inflight automation

Desert Island Discs: This BBC Radio institution was something I’d avoided for many years thinking that it was a show about music (something I like to think I already know a lot about). What I found instead was a show where music is a door opener to revealing conversations about people’s lives and history.

CYCLING

The Bike Show: Jack Thurston gives a broader perspective on the world of cycling, taking a look at social, cultural and political issues in cycling and occasionally dabbling in the world of cycle sport.

Cyclingnews Podcast/ The Cycling Podcast / The Recon Ride: Shows for the cycling aficionado, providing listeners with a pre and post ride commentary on the big rides in the professional calendar.

The featured image is a mural called Home by Reka in New York City and published in StreetArtNews.

 

What I’m Listening To

I’ve recently developed a renewed love for podcasts, providing me with the opportunity to squeeze in more into my day as I cycle to work.

Find below a list of some of the spoken podcasts that I’ve been enjoying and shine a bit of light on the world we live in. What it doesn’t include is the countless musical podcasts I follow via Soundcloud and Mixcloud which occupy those moments where I need something requiring somewhat less thought.

Society, Culture and Economy

The Moth

The Moth provides spoken word performances which are great examples of how stories can send you on an emotional rollercoaster.

99% Invisible

Roman Mars hosts a regular podcast looking at an entertaining range of topics covering humans’ interaction with design. Among the topics covered are Youppi!guerilla sign making and Penn Station among many others,

Radiolab

Radiolab puts the spotlight on a different subject each week, providing a critical and entertaining perspective. A case in point was a recent episode looking at the role of American Indians in the early history of American football, which was fascinating, even for someone with little to no interest in the sport.

Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics like Radiolab looks at a different topic for each episode, using a mixture of Economics and Sociology, providing a follow on from Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s book with the same name. Recent issues have looked at terrorism, energy efficiency, job security and the flu vaccine. More engaging than the description might suggest.

The Economist Radio

The Economist’s Soundcloud page provides bite sized episodes that come in around 3 minutes in length. Valuable windows into different topics but frustratingly short when it comes to providing a companion when you’re travelling from A > B.

Digital Culture

StartUp

StartUp provides a window into the ups and downs of founding a startup. It’s worth going back to their first edition as this is one podcast where you get a sense of a journey and the traversing of the many obstacles that founders typically face.

Reply All

Produced by Gimlet Media who also produce StartUp podcast. Reply All looks at a different subject each week relating to internet with subjects covered including the origins of email, the demands of hosting photos of Kim Kardashian’s derrière and France’s Minitel among other things.

TLDR

TLDR provides a similar format to Reply All, covering a different internet related topic each week but with a more activist agenda highlighting issues of discrimination and bias whilst keeping it entertaining.

Digital Economy and Strategy

Exponent

Talk show hosted by Ben Thompson of Stratechery fame and strategist James Allworth. They look at a broad range of issues relating to digital strategy typically using Ben Thompson’s writing as a starting point. Among the issues covered are copyright law, the internet of things, blogging’s future and a review of the strategy of leading digital companies including Apple, Google, Xiaomi and Microsoft.

A16Z

A16Z is venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz’s regular podcast profiling . Like Exponent, the show, looks at the internet with a more business focused lens than either Reply All or TLDR. Shows cover a range of digital trends bringing in key opinion makers from Silicon Valley. I’m  a particular fan of their coverage of  the impact of growing use of smartphones, with Benedict Evans’ commentary proving particularly worth a listen.

Cycling

The Bike Show

Jack Thurston provides a window into the many different aspects of cycling culture including history, activism and the large and small adventures of people on their bikes.

The Cycling Podcast

Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Frieve provide a window into the world of professional cycling for those of us frustrated by the lack of coverage in the mainstream press.

The featured image is by Chu at the Ciudad Cultural Konex in Buenos Aires and was published in StreetArtNews.

Pinboard, Twitter, Pinterest and Comments

This is a quick update to earlier postings looking at My Digital Footprint.

Pinboard

I have been using Delicious for some years now and as with any service, you get what you pay for. Given the service is free, this now means the appearance of advertising and unfortunately more sluggish performance (having 11,000 links probably doesn’t help).

A recent article by Ethan Zuckerman again brought Pinboard to my attention which for a one off fee of around $10 promises to provide a similar service to Delicious but with faster performance and without the advertising.

If you’re looking for a fully featured service like Evernote with the ability to collect ideas and annotate webpages , Pinboard probably won’t be for you. On the other hand if you’re looking for a simple user friendly tool to collect and index online articles and resources, you may well find it fits the bill. If you’re keen to find out more, I’d suggest you read Federico Viticci’s review over at MacStories .

You can follow my own ever expanding collection of resources here, with the material collected reflecting my interests and the tags reflecting my own idiosyncrasies.

Twitter

If you’re looking for more regular updates on material that’s similar to the blog’s content, try following me on Twitter at @gusjmacdonald.

Pinterest

I may not fit the profile of the average Pinterest user, but I do find it’s a valuable resource for collecting more visual materials.

On my Pinterest account, you’ll find collections of boards around different digital tools and strategies (eg location based marketing), technological and consumer trends (eg device usage and ownership), sectoral information (eg retail) as well as various boards where there’s a personal interest (eg cargo bikes). Feel free to have a browse and follow any boards that interest you.

Comments

The final area I wanted to remark on is the growing torrent of comments I am now facing with the blog. Many of these are more than warmly received but a significant proportion are spam. For the moment I’m letting the current situation continue as is but I may well find myself changing this situation if the time associated with managing comments (rather than writing) continues to increase.

This isn’t something I take lightly as one of the characteristics I really appreciate about the web is the ability to foster communications between author and audience. Watch this space…

The featured image is The Golden Fish by Aleksey Batis in Chelyabinsk, Russia and found on Ekosystem.

Digital Diet: life without a smartphone

I have been using a Samsung Galaxy S2 as my mobile phone for the last couple of years and is currently running the Jelly Bean version of Android. It’s hardly at the cutting edge of handset technology lacking BLE, NFC, 4G or a quad-core processor but it does provide the fundamentals we associate with a smartphone.

Unfortunately my phone decided to get stuck on the Samsung logo splash screen  on Friday leaving me suddenly without a functioning smartphone. I am currently making do with a Nokia 1209 whilst the Samsung gets repaired. The Nokia phone was first launched in 2008, although its range of functionality suggests the date could easily have been the turn of the century.

This change of situation has provided an important illustration to me of the fact that my phone is rarely used for the traditional uses of phone calls or text messages. Below are the functions I’m really missing:

Pocket: Having a long queue of articles means that I don’t need to carry a book around with me for those downtimes when you need something to read.

Tinder: For me, Tinder has injected a bit of fun back into online dating compared to the more traditional alternatives (OkCupid etc). There are some key differences  that stand out for me:

Less information is provided on users profiles so there’s less opportunity to spend hours pondering ‘is this the one’ (flip side to the coin is you do end up sometimes reading too much into people’s profile photos).

The  process of approving or rejecting a user for mutual communication is easy to do and has a game like quality (did someone say gamification) .

You don’t hear whether a user has seen your profile and you are only notified if a user approves of the match, which removes some of the  waiting on tenterhooks I sometimes associate with online dating.

Another characteristic that makes it stand out is the fact that the service is mobile only. This makes for a difficult situation if you need to get a message to a fellow Tinder user when your mobile stops working, as I found over the weekend. Asking friends whether you can borrow their smartphone and download the Tinder app got some interesting responses…

Camera: I’ve long since given up on carrying my compact camera around. The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S2 is far from brilliant but it’s more than good enough in most situations and its integration with Google+ Photos means that photos are quickly available from your desktop – something that Apple looks to be moving towards with its recent announcements at WWDC.

Instagram: My Instagram account, provides a complement to Google+ with photos that are typically more visual and less social in nature.

Google Maps: After having Google Maps for the last 6 years on my phone, going back to the old A-Z paper maps seems like going back to the dark ages.

SwiftKey: Predictive text has a comparatively long history but technology has come a long way since the T9 of early mobile phones. Android’s embracing of third party keyboards has led to a flourishing array of different providers and its encouraging to see Apple now embracing this approach.

Fingers crossed, I will be receiving a phone call soon confirming that my smartphone is now back up and running, but in the meantime I am readjusting to life without being constantly connected.

The featured image is a collaborative piece by Okuda and Remed in the Wynwood district of Miami, Florida and was found on StreetArtNews.

Digital Footprint: Pocket and other read it later functionality

If you are reading this, you’re probably in a similar situation to me, trying to absorb as much content as possible, in a world of information overload.

Some years ago, this meant for me keeping up with a broad array of print publications topped up with online sourcers.  As we moved towards an increasingly globalised and less centralised world, relying on content on the local newsstands and booksellers shelves proved increasingly not enough.

We all find ourselves scouring the world for titbits of information that shed new light on the world we live in. The PC has provided us with a great means of accessing this information but unfortunately it doesn’t provide a cure-all when it comes to  consuming it. Laptops are more portable than ever but there are still plenty of situations where they aren’t appropriate or accessible.

This is where read it later services like Pocket and Instapaper come in handy, allowing users to push content (articles, blog posts etc) to a range of devices including tablets and smartphones for offline consumption. Similar native functionality is provided for Apple users as long as they stay loyal to Apple across their different devices via Reading List (I am an Android and OSX user making it a no go).

When I first started using Instapaper back in 2009, the service revolutionised my media consumption, freeing me from my desktop or the need to have hard copies of the relevant. When you find content you like online, you simply click on the browser extension and it’s pushed to the relevant device.

In the case of Pocket, you are also seeing integration with content sources and aggregators like Twitter, Flipboard, PulseZite and Feedly making it easier to move content from one platform across to your read it later collection.

The only problem now is keeping up with the ever growing list of content in my reading list…not that I’m complaining (too much).

The featured image comes from French artist GoddoG

MY DIGITAL FOOTPRINT: PINTEREST

This is second post in a series of pieces profiling the different digital tools I’m using to organise information and digitally publish. As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been a heavy user of Delicious for some time.

Whilst Delicious is great for structuring a large pool of information, it is a text driven platform  is not so useful when you are looking for visual inspiration or assets, which is where Pinterest comes in.  I joined the service in 2010, but it’s only been in the last year that I really began using it regularly, using it as an asset bank for presentations and reports.

The service relies on the use of non hierarchical ‘boards’ with no tagging of content, limiting the ability to develop a more detailed taxonomy. This means that I’m now faced  with a constantly expanding number of boards (currently stands at 275), but the sheer simplicity of the system does mean you spend more time adding content and less time managing it.  The process of adding content is made painless by the use of a Chrome extension.

The service limits users to three private boards which ensures that Pinterest users’ efforts are typically shared for one and all, but it  provides a real limitation for projects where privacy is important.

I’ve attempted to try and order the layout the boards on my profile page to better enable retrieving content. This sees different arrays of folders structured within alphabetical sequence,  just don’t expect anything as robust as the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

The first array of boards looks largely at tactics (eg Blogging, Personalisation), the second array  looks at marketing campaigns by theme (eg Humour Based Campaigns, Neo-Luddism Based Campaigns), the third array looks at more descriptive material that typically relates to technology (eg Device Usage and Ownership, Demographics), the fourth array looks at different market sectors (eg RetailTelecoms) and the final array is my playground where you’ll find an assortment of material that has caught my mind (eg ColourMan vs Nature, Old FutureRuin Porn).

You will often find indexed pictures/videos in more than one board. An example would be an infographic that looked at wearable computing including Google Glass which you will find  in the Wearable & Wetware  and Enhanced Eyewear boards. Not necessarily the most elegant of solutions, but it works for me.

You’re encouraged to follow, although the rather broad array of content means that you’re probably much better off following a board than the whole stream.

My Digital Footprint: Delicious

I figured it would be worth talking about my digital footprint, some of which relates closely to the content of  this blog and other elements which are more personal.

My Delicious account is something I’ve been using for the last three or four years as a means of collecting material which I figure I might be able to ‘recycle’ at a later date – important when you don’t have a photographic memory and follow a broad range of information sources.

Delicious’ use of tags provides a non hierarchical means of mapping and retrieving content. An example would be if I’m looking for content relating to mobile internet in the UK, I would try the following which brings up the intersection of contents from the mobileinternet and UK tags.

https://delicious.com/inspiral/mobileinternet,uk

The use of a Chrome extension makes it relatively painless to add content straight from the browser without cutting and pasting, although the plugin typically won’t be able to grab titles from pdfs.

In terms of the indexed content, there’s strong coverage of digital, social and mobile media, marketing and collaboration. You will also find content relating to cycling which is a personal passion of mine.

Most content should be tagged with year, publication (where relevent) and if you’re looking more for examples rather than discussion, you might want to try the creativeshowcase (examples of) tag.

An example of this in action is the indexing of the following from Mashable

Title: Tweet a Selfie to See Your Smart Car Doppelganger

Tags: SmartCar, Twitter, selfies, #smartwrapme, automotive, creativeshowcase, Mashable, 2013

Delicious created an annual report for 2013 for me which can be found here.