Going ‘Digital’

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Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ktsimage

It seems that everyone is excited about ‘going digital‘. The ‘digital’ moniker is now being used as a synonym for almost all that follows – it’s not about the ‘web’, ‘social media’, or ‘smartphones’ (they are so last decade …).

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Social discovery

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/sjlocke

In a recent Economist, in the article on Facebook’s planned IPO, a quote caught my attention:

Some form of social-discovery feature in Facebook is inevitable [Joe Green, the boss of Causes.com, a web business that promotes activism and philanthropy]

This lead me to consider how we engage with new people, and how we are using the internet to engage in social discovery (meeting new people, and engaging in social dialogue, and possibly ‘learning’ from them).

Since starting this post, I’ve also become aware of an upcoming genre of apps which are designed to aid location-based social discovery (more on this below).

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Expanding Codecademy’s future potential

I recently posted about Codecademy, and its Code Year’ initiative.

I’ve kept up with the courses so far (just four weeks so far).

There are however a number of ways that I would like to see Codecademy further develop.  Since they are still in a certain ‘honeymoon’ phase, with popular and mainstream press having taken notice of what they are doing, they should make the changes soon, and maintain momentum (to be clear, they have launched a number of new developments recently, so it appears they are following this approach, but there’s more potential still).

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Codecademy / Code Year (2012)

I’ve recently been following Codecademy‘s ‘Code Year’ project:

Code Year is a series of weekly emails, starting at the beginning of 2012, which support (but are not necessarily exclusive to) people who have made new year’s resolutions to learn (at least the basics) how to ‘code’ (when I was at school, in the UK, we used to refer to this as programming, which I assume/understand to be broadly the same), starting with JavaScript.

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An amazing (“amaz[on]ing”) customer service experience


This morning (Sunday morning, ca. 7.30am my time, middle of the night in the U.S.A.), I went onto Amazon.com‘s website, to follow up on a question that I had about my Kindle (an eBook reader device that I had purchased from Amazon.com). The process was slightly different to what I was expecting, and also different to what I had experienced with Amazon in the past. More to the point, it left me quite amazed – I’ve never experienced such a high quality customer service response before.

In the past I remember even struggling to find a telephone number or email address on the Amazon site, in order to contact them with a customer service matter. While I found a telephone number this time,  I turned out that I didn’t need it; Amazon called me.

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Are you frustraTED?


I’ve already written two blog posts on TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), the global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, whereby the talks from those conferences, as well as franchise TEDx conferences are made available for free viewing online (“TED Talks. We listen.” and “My TEDxperience“), as well as having referred to it in a number of other blog posts. I like TED.

TED offers so many good ideas – indeed it’s tag line is ‘ideas worth spreading’.

Our mission: Spreading ideas.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

So we spread those ideas, what next? Do those ideas turn into reality? Perhaps not always, and maybe that can lead to some frustration.

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The new ‘news’, and how you find it

How do you follow the news? – Do you read a newspaper, in paper form, or online (or several)?  … watch ‘the News’ on TV? … listen to ‘the News’ on the radio? … read news websites? These approaches to following the news (even online news sites) are grounded in ’20th century’ thinking, and are in many ways inefficient and ineffective.

Which brings us to the question ‘What is news?’ (simply ‘new information’?). When you want to find information, and find that Google doesn’t help you find the full answer, what then? Wouldn’t it be nice if the news and information that we want to hear comes to us in a personalized way?

There are some excellent, recently developed online tools available to assist you finding, more efficiently and more effectively, the news and information that interests you, whether it be current affairs, work related insights, or topics of personal interest.  In this post I comment on some of these tools, in particular RSS feedsGoogle, Twitter and Quora.

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‘Location’ is where it’s at – my take on location-based services.

In the retail trade they’ve long said that it’s about location, location, location. The advent of GPS, and the incorporation of GPS into affordable, handheld units (starting with car navigation units, and more recently smartphones) has meant that location tracking is now possible for individuals.

It has recently also become possible to share, or publicly broadcasting this data, via Twitter, Facebook, or other internet based platforms, with friends, or indeed, the whole world. It is of course a fair question to ask why one would want to do this.

I’ve recently started to try out Foursquare, one of the most popular location-based services, in an attempt to better understand what it’s all about. In doing so, I’ve also come up with a few thoughts about the potential for such services, beyond what seems to be being done so far.

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Is the iPad Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”?

I recently read (and retweeted) the tweet above.  It made me think what has been achieved in a relatively short space of time (30 years or so, since computers began to reach the public, initially in only a very rudimentary form), and inspired me to develop those thoughts.

As @dna4ever42‘s tweet quotes Stephen Fry (in the Time magazine article ‘The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again?‘), Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) likens the iPad to the encyclopedia in Douglas Adams’ brilliant ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘ (the encyclopedia being that guide), written by Adams, a close friend of Fry, in 1979.

It is indeed a shame that Adams, who Fry describes as being the first person in the UK to own an Apple Macintosh computer, isn’t able to see the iPad (Adams died of a heart attack at the age of 49 on 11 May 2001) – one can be fairly sure that he would have been excited by it.

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Is parody the sincerest form of flattery? iPad humor

It is said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Perhaps even more sincere, is “parody”.

Apple’s new “iPad” tablet computer will be launched tomorrow. There is intense debate, commentary and argument in some circles as to whether the product is a hit or miss. And all of that from (mostly) people who have never seen, let alone touched the ‘multi-touch’ device. Whatever your point of view, it is clear that Apple has developed incredible power to enter people’s lives via its marketing and its cultural values.

Aside from much of the comments, described by some as being from “Apple fanboys” and “Apple haters”, a few videos have appeared on sites like YouTube which aim to capitalize on the excitement and interest in the iPad, by making fun of the device. It would seem that much of this humor is however flattery, not least in its garnering of further attention for the iPad ‘story’ (some of the iPad parody videos have hundred’s of thousands of ‘views’ on YouTube).

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