Pride and media consumption

I enjoyed reading the Unbearable Lightness of Being so much that I read every book by Milan Kundera. I also read every book by Albert Camus because I enjoyed reading La Peste so much. Laura M. Holson wrote an article about “Unplugging without FOMO” which I skimmed after someone on twitter commented on twitter that Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 18.45.06

and I strongly disagree with this person’s view. It brings us to the conversation about high and low culture. I take the view that media consumption should be focused on high culture. For my dissertation I watched hundreds of documentaries. I watched every David Attenborough documentary, every Jacques Yves Cousteau documentary. I read many books and articles on the topic of the documentary genre and as a result I take pride in the knowledge that I have acquired in the process.

When I skimmed through the article I saw that the discussions were about low culture, about tabloid topics. They speak about things that I would never discuss as they are of no importance or interest. These are things that have no effect on my quality of life.

At the same time I do feel the usual regret. Mid to late adopters came to social media, made it tabloid and then complain about the stream which they and their friends generated. In my childhood I read encyclopedia articles during breakfast, as a teen I spent hours in computer rooms learning about webmastering and search engine optimisation before others were interested. I was experimenting with video compression tools in the late 1990s and gained a deep understanding of the tools that would lead from new media to social media. The conversations were about culture and people took a constructive attitude.

From 2009 onwards I saw the shift away from personal conversations between friends to the hunt for followers and the loss of the personal connection and I blogged about it. As I went back to read the article about unplugging so I see a reaction to what I have been saying for years now. Articles are being written for people with no staying power. Social networks are becoming broadcast rather than exchange and the superficiality of the web is driving people away.

I am happy that social media and microblogging are beyond their sell by date because it means that I can give time up to blogging once again. I can once again discuss topics that interest me in long form. It means that we will spend more time reading, more time learning once again. That is the beauty of the shift away from social media.

In reality I have nothing to gain from participating in the Meme media. Même media, the Same media. The media where people use hashtags to be certain that they are in the flock, the flock of hashtag users rather than conversationalists.

If I can’t converse I will have a monologue and people who are like minded will find me and we shall converse away from the madding crowd. Someday I will read that book. I love to read and I love to write. Today I am doing both as it’s raining outside.

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Headline rating app to encourage useful headline writing.

In future I would like an application or social network that allows me to rate headlines according to whether they are sensationalist, informative, emotional informative or other. The aim of this network or app would be to discourage article writers from re-using the same phrases over and over. It would encourage writers rather than marketers to provide headlines that article readers want to follow.

I often see articles that I would find interesting but because of the way the headline is written I avoid it. I don’t want to give marketers a victory for condescending to their audience. I also worry about the article’s informative value. Will the article provide me with some new information or is it so general that I already know this.

Articles need to provide me with a return on investment. I want to be informed, educated and entertained.

Social media, loneliness and isolation.

“The pathology of social media is all about loneliness”

Social media professionals take the weekend off. Twitter users use hashtags so that their content can be found without being followed. Everything is turned towards discoverability rather than commitment and conversation.

Social media practitioners know that people aren’t listening attentively so they repeat and repeat in the hope of a click or two. Hashtags are just a way of pretending that a conversation has had an audience. It doesn’t measure the number of comments and responses. It doesn’t measure how long threads lasted before they stopped.

There was a time when people like me would read every tweet from people we followed and we would converse daily. It created a lot of friendships and led to a lot of face to face meetings.

In today’s social media landscape I do see loneliness rather than socialising. I see on twitter that people are actively posting only once or twice a day. On Facebook I have seen such a serious decline in participation that there is little reason to stick around. My generation were active in social media for a short amount of time and now they have retreated to “normal” life.

Whilst some people have hundreds of likes on their instagram images I have half a dozen to a dozen. Almost every like on Instagram is a person that I have conversed with online for years. There is a chance that I can tell you how long we’ve been chatting online, whether we’ve met in person and at what event and which networks we have shared. Twitter friends were trusted enough to become facebook friends. Facebook and twitter friends followed on instagram etc.

Facebook was a very active and social place when we were all at university and having the same social life. Twitter was a very social network when I was looking for work and meeting the London Social Media crowd, the French social media crowd and the Swiss social media individuals.

Ingress has presented me with a large group of Swiss people whom I have met many times recently as an active player of Ingress. Many of them are around my age.  We use Google hangouts to talk and plan missions and are in constant communication.

Glocals was good for finding people to explore new activities and locations with but the connection lasted only as long as the activities. There was little to no follow up socialising online. The Glocals Scuba diving group is the one I got along with best and the group with which I did the most activities. It’s a shame that this was an activity for people a decade older than me.

When I think of the social journey both online and offline I see that loneliness is not the pathology of social media. I joined Twitter because I love to try new things. Facebook was a network of university friends whom I saw every day. Seesmic was a network of people whom I developed strong friendships with that last to this day and Glocals was probably the only network I joined out of solitude and a need to do things on weekends. I like the irony that the network I joined to avoid solitude is the one that resulted in the deepest feeling of it. Eventually every social network becomes lonely but we would say the same about the city from which our friends have gone, of the bars and more.

Geneva is referred to as an airport hub. People come to the city for a year or two and then leave. As a result the refreshing of friendships is very high and it takes a certain personality to cope. Modern transportation; planes, cars, and trains create a pathology of loneliness and social media are part of the solution for as long as the social networks are frequented.

Audible books and Kindle Unlimited

This year I have set myself the goal of reading 30 books. I am currently on track to reaching that goal. Most of my reading material comes from two sources. and What I like about reading books via is the freedom it gives me to do something at the same time as people are telling me stories.

This habit was born from listening to podcasts while I went for hour long walks. Over time podcasts went down in quality and my time was taken up by other activities. As a result of the scarcity of time I moved towards audible books. Audible books provide me with an opportunity to listen to stories and learn whilst I do other things. I can listen to them while I commute, while I go for hikes or while I mow the lawn. As a result of this ability to multitask I have finished many more books than I would finish if I was only reading.

I am an audible platinum member and I pay in advance. This gives me the option to buy 23 books a year. Audio books are not cheap when you buy them individually so buying a subscription makes sense. Below a certain price I buy the books and use credit when the value justifies it. For at least two years I have felt justified in keeping the subscription.

I am lucky because I like to read on electronic devices. I have used iphones, android phones, iPads, iPad Mini, Tablets and a kindle for reading. As a result of this I always have several books with me at all times. I have a tendency to buy many more books than I have the time to read. This is especially true of books when they cost less than an airport coke. Eventually I will get to read them.

Today I took a step which may make conventional book readers envious. I will test Kindle Unlimited for the next month. I can “borrow” up to ten books simultaneously per month. I can be as uncommitted as ever with books. I am working through the James Bond Collection and reading three history volumes at the same time.  I “read” the history volumes as audio books and this allows me to enjoy the nice weather we have had. When I am in a fixed location I can read James Bon books on the kindle.

At the end of the trial month we will see whether I keep using Kindle unlimited.

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The apple watch will put no one out to pasture. Have you seen how many people from my generation can’t even read books on a kindle? What will put the web out to pasture is the tabloid/gossip magazine style of writing. Too many mainstream media hubs and blogging platforms write for the clueless and emotional portion of the web rather than the informed.

There was a time when I would read up to ten thousand tweets a day and spend 20hrs a day in social media. Today that passion has collapsed because conversationalists have left.

There was a time when I would spend several hours a week listening to the TWIT network to gain a better understanding of tech news and current affairs. I stopped listening when they stopped editing out the small talk. What value does small talk have to an international audience?

The Apple Watch marks the next, probably last, step in the downfall of the web. Or more precisely, the downfall of the web as commonly understood: that HTML medium which has spent the last two decades dominating the way we buy, share, search, learn and collaborate.

As long as you create your user account, enter your credit card details, personal address and other data the statement is true. I can easily see myself booking a flight or hotel via the mobile phone and using a smartwatch to check in to a flight or hotel. Operations where a “yes” or “no” answer is enough will benefit from smart watch devices. For most operations web interfaces and mobile phones are key.

“What began the toppling of the web? The mobile app. And the reason is pretty simple: apps deliver a much better user experience.”

The discussion is not about evolution and alternatives rather than elimination. The World Wide Web interface on desktops and laptops is practical. Actions which would take several minutes on a mobile phone take seconds on a laptop or desktop. The focus should be on “What tasks can be simplified through the use of a mobile phone or smart watch?”. Bus tickets, train tickets and cinema tickets would benefit from smartwatch access. When you’re shopping using your phone to scan the bar codes would be good. Once you finish shopping press “Complete” or “pay” and the financial transaction happens automatically. This isn’t replacing the web interface. It’s streamlining other processes.

For companies and indie developers alike, the way forward means forgetting the previous decades’ assumptions around screen real estate, keyboards, even reliable network connections. The mobile paradigm means APIs, orchestrated into apps that are optimized for the devices they run on. That’s the bold new realm ahead.

I disagree. Rather than take a reductive approach I would take a complementary approach. Look at dual factor authentication for example. We often use a password and a temporary passphrase to log in to a number of services today. Look at the booking of flights. We use a computer to book the flight and the mobile phone for the QR code which we scan when boarding. I don’t picture myself booking a flight with the watch but I do see myself confirming the check in.

I don’t see myself getting an iWatch because I already have a smart watch on my wrist. I wear a suunto Ambit 3 and use it to keep track of my walks, of my training in the gym and theoretically could use it to see updates once Suunto have the Android app version ready.

For now the use case for the Suunto Ambit 3, Suunto Ambit 2, Mares Icon HD Garmin 210 and other devices is that I go out in to the real world and do some sports activity. While I am doing that activity I have access to a certain amount of data. When I complete the task I stop recording data and I sync it to the computer at home. That data is then uploaded to a number of fitness tracking softwares, computer applications and more. I then analyse that data and look at the map of where I have been.

In scuba diving this data is useful as it allows me to improve my diving technique. For walking and other activities the data is mainly for fun.

App developers, UX designers and companies need to think of the dynamic individual and how a smart watch can automate the gathering of certain pieces of data. In practical terms I believe smart watches should simplify the user’s life. They should definitely not replace the laptop or the smartphone.

Why The Apple Watch Will put The Web to Pasture once in for all