The death of blogging

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First the death of the phone call and now the death of blogging? I have to lighten up.
An article from last year found in my overflowing reading list – I’m that far behind.
Rumors of blogging’s death at the hands of Twitter, Facebook and other platforms are greatly exaggerated, according to British writer Warren Ellis.

When any medium starts getting ‘the death of…’ articles, it doesn’t mean the medium in question is dying, so much as that people are bored with it and are looking for the next thing,” Ellis writes in his column, “On the death of blogging,” from the U.K. edition of Wired magazine. “And while they were looking for other things to be interested in, Chicago street gangs started blogging to protest against police harassment. Remember Blogger’s original tagline? ‘Push-button publishing for the people.’ That looks alive and well to me.”

I think there is still value in curation with opinion but I’m not sure people have time for anything other than a link on twitter or Facebook. I’m old school so I still prefer regularly going to someones website to get my daily dish of links and opinion. But what about everyone else? I get the feeling that other than a few online personalities and brands most people don’t have much loyalty to a cadre of bloggers like I do.
That cadre of bloggers I have relied on for years for my online education has thinned to almost a handful. Its tough to maintain rhythm and people’s prorates priorities change. Lately with other activities taking more and more of my interest, my attention certainly has been on the wane. But it’s always been that way for me.
Warren Ellis: On the death of blogging


Mobile Phone Monsters


A fun ad by German O2 demonizing “expensive mobile rates, monthly fees, fixed-term contracts and high-price flat rates that turn every harmless mobile phone into a little monster”. I’m not a follower of advertising work but this is kind of fun.


In Digital Era, Music Spotters Feed a Machine

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We’re living in a world where technologists and programmers are becoming the new gatekeepers for new music.
The New York Times reports on how Shazam and other song-discovery software offer a new frontier of hope for the music business.

As the major record labels shrink, Shazam and other start-ups are thriving by offering people new ways to discover and listen to music. That is creating new kinds of jobs in the music business, from foragers like Mr. Slomovitz to the developers building software that recommends the perfect song for a particular listener.
“We used to have D.J.’s, record store clerks and A.& R. types” — the music industry’s talent scouts — to help discover music, said Paul Lamere, director of the developer community at Echo Nest, which builds music search services. “But now, because so much music is available, the challenge is surfacing relevant music to listeners.”
Shazam’s music sourcers feed songs into the company’s system so it can give each one a unique “fingerprint” that can be matched with the sound captured by its mobile app. Some of the songs come directly from record labels, which view Shazam as a useful partner.
“When people use a service like Shazam, they expect it to work all the time,” said Andrew Fisher, Shazam’s chief executive.
At stake, Mr. Fisher said, is the loyalty of the service’s audience, whose members use it three million times a day. If Shazam cannot recognize a song, a user may simply turn to another app that can.

See also: Business Insider’s Chart of the Day: The Death of the Music Industry
Shazam’s Search for Songs Creates New Music Jobs.


In Africa – Forget the web, head straight for mobile


“Journalism is essential to democracy – forget the web develop for mobile first – citizen journalism.”

Professor Harry Dugmore, has the chair for Mobile and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. In this chat he looks at the power of radio and discusses why it is so important that there is plurality of voice in society. Harry has thoughts on where those journalists will come from.
He also builds a strong case for why we need public media to maintain the checks and balances on governments and financial institutions. Especially now.


Is Mobile Affecting When We Read?

How we read
Interesting insights on how mobile devices are affecting where and when we read.

Printed media used to allow us to read in the places we found most comfortable. When you imagine yourself reading the newspaper it’s probably in your favorite chair, at the breakfast table, or at the cafe with an orange mocha frappuccino in your hand.
Unfortunately, as news and media moves online, it moves us away from these places and into our desk chairs. Even worse, consuming content is no longer on our own schedule. The flood of content disrupts us all day as if we have an maniacal paperboy throwing new editions on our doorstep every 15 seconds.
When a reader is given a choice about how to consume their content, a major shift in behavior occurs. They no longer consume the majority of their content during the day, on their computer. Instead they shift that content to prime time and onto a device better suited for consumption.
Initially, it appears that the devices users prefer for reading are mobile devices, most notably the iPad. It’s the iPad leading the jailbreak from consuming content in our desk chairs.
As better mobile experiences become more accessible to more readers, this movement will continue to grow. Readers want to consume content in a comfortable place, on their own time and mobile devices are making it possible for readers to take control once more.

From Read it Later Blog


Information overload, the early years

The Boston Globe writes about our current obsession with the perceived or very real problem of information overload. Its real in the sense that we are faced with a huge amount of data on a daily basis (whether we opt in to the deluge or not) but the concerns of the effects on our cognitive abilities are yet unproven. In fact we may have faced similar crisis in the past and “come out ok”.

Worry about information overload has become one of the drumbeats of our time. The world’s books are being digitized, online magazines and newspapers and academic papers are steadily augmented by an endless stream of blog posts and Twitter feeds; and the gadgets to keep us participating in the digital deluge are more numerous and sophisticated. The total amount of information created on the world’s electronic devices is expected to surpass the zettabyte mark this year.
Many feel the situation has reached crisis proportions. In the academic world, critics have begun to argue that universities are producing and distributing more knowledge than we can actually use. In the recent best-selling book “The Shallows,” Nicholas Carr worries that the flood of digital information is changing not only our habits, but even our mental capacities: Forced to scan and skim to keep up, we are losing our abilities to pay sustained attention, reflect deeply, or remember what we’ve learned.
What we share with our ancestors, though, is the sense of excess. Most Internet searches will turn up vastly more results than can be used. Too much of the bad stuff, not enough of the good, has been the subtext of complaints about overload from the beginning. But like the early modern compilers, we too are devising ways to cope.

Information overload, the early years


As technology advances, deep reading suffers

Reading is again becoming a cognitively strenuous job as the mind struggles to keep track not only of the words but also of all the surrounding distractions.

Today, a counterrevolution is under way. As the computer and cell phone become our main reading devices, the book is being pushed to the periphery of culture. According to recent studies by Ball State University and the federal government, the average American spends more than eight hours a day peering into a screen – TV, computer or cell phone (sometimes all three at once) – but devotes just 20 minutes to reading books and other printed works.
Reading from a screen is very different from reading from a book. A book provides a shield against distraction, allowing us to focus our entire attention on an author’s narrative or argument. When text is put onto a screen, it enters what the science fiction writer Cory Doctorow terms an “ecosystem of interruption technologies.” The words have to compete for our attention with links, e-mails, texts, tweets, Facebook updates, videos, ads and all the other visual stimuli that pour through our computers.

Read: As technology advances, deep reading suffers


Reading on the iPhone good for dyslexics?

Reading on the iPhone
Via @kottke, some anecdotal evidence suggests that reading on a small screened device like an iPhone may be easier for some (against other anecdotal evidence that suggests the opposite) particularly so for those with dyslexia.

So why I had found it easier to read from my iPhone? First, an ordinary page of text is split into about four pages. The spacing seems generous and because of this I don’t get lost on the page. Second, the handset’s brightness makes it easier to take in words. “Many dyslexics have problems with ‘crowding’, where they’re distracted by the words surrounding the word they’re trying to read,” says John Stein, Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford University and chair of the Dyslexia Research Trust. “When reading text on a small phone, you’re reducing the crowding effect.”

One of the most common problems with reading on devices like the iPhone is the lack of knowing your ‘place’. With a printed book or magazine you know where you are and how much remains to be read simply by looking at the pages in your hands. Ebooks or readers don’t really allow for this affordance which may be beneficial for those who are daunted by a 1000+ page book.
My iPhone has revolutionised my reading


On Fashion Blogs


A Video that was presented at PREMIUM Exhibitions panel on Fashionblogs, asking Suzy Menkes, Yvan Rodic (Facehunter), Jennie Tamm (The Coveted) and Julia Knolle and Jessie Weiss (LesMads) to share their opinion.
Via Designnotes.


Slowness, writing and comprehension

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Something I have been thinking about lately.
Through-out grade school I was repeatedly taught to write notes on whatever I was reading and to rewrite any other notes as a means to comprehend the material I was studying. I think I read somewhere since, that writing involves higher level cognitive processes that aid in memory (I don’t have time to find the source). Even my Mandarin teacher forced me to write ad nauseam pinyin, and later characters, on the white board as a means to remember and to help keep me warm in winter.
Up until the past five years or so most of my learning and research activities were slow – the act of writing, high-lighting, reading books, and bookmarking passages took time. Time which allowed for greater absorption of the data at hand. Generally, you had to read through allot more material to help support your arguments.
My undergrad essays took seemingly forever to construct and my masters thesis encompassed a couple years of reading and experience.
Contrast that with the methods I, and many others, use now for the light research activities I am involved in in an almost daily basis. It’s all at the meta level – delicious for reference material, textedit for in-use snip-its of text, Google docs for draft sharing and collaboration, Flickr and iView for images, weblogs and micro-blogs for sharing, Yojimbo for data stores, and Google and host of other sources for research. It’s all fast and shallow with an emphasis on cut ‘n’ paste.
In effect we’ve become curators and convenors of other peoples material. We don’t absorb, we regurgitate. We don’t take the time to allow for that transformation of data to knowledge.
Online reading is part of this as are newer formats like RSS. We try to ‘see’ as much data as possible. Notice how much of the productivity software developed lately is about ‘tasks’ and concerns small snippets of text?
What effects does this have on the ability to concentrate? When I told a doctor I was having trouble focusing he advised to read real books slowly.
I wonder if there is anyway to actually slow down the process and still use digital tools? I’m not convinced I ever truly read anything onscreen as well as in a book. It’s more scanning and collecting.
More:
The Effects of the Shared Writing Process on Reading Comprehension of Second and Third Grade Students.
Improving Reading Comprehension Through Higher Order Thinking Skills (pdf).
An insight on designers’ sketching activities in traditional versus digital media


Netflix for magazines

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Maghound is an interesting service that lets you choose from a modest catalogue of magazines that get delivered to your door every month for one flat fee. The kicker is that you can change your magazines or try new ones whenever you like. The downside is that they only deal with US customers. A fact that is mentioned nowhere on their site. So if you are an American expat. in Singapore this isn’t for you but if you live in the US and love Netflix this is worth a try.
Maghound. Via Uncrate.


Thinking for a Living

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Thinking for a Living is a collection of recommended readings and online links put together by Duane Kin. It’s expansive and could keep you busy reading for ages. While the design of the site is quite lovely it suffers from that old fashioned problem of tiny type. Enjoy but be prepared to bump up the font size a couple of times.
Thinking for a Living


88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day

Being mobile and leading a truly portable lifestyle requires that you at least try to cut out some of the inefficiencies in your life. Increased productivity gives you the time to focus on the things that truly matter – would rather be working in your hotel room staring at the beach or relaxing on the beach after completing your days tasks in record time? This book presents 88 of the best life hacks from the Lifehacker.com web site archive. A website indispensible to finding new ways to refine personal productivity by tweaking, modding, mashing up, and repurposing web apps, desktop software, and common everyday objects. Order Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day from Amazon ($16.49US).


Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel Photos

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I have considered the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong for a weekend city getaway on a number of occaisions. Though it is possible to find some reasonably priced package deals, at an often quoted price of ~$500.00US a night this hotel is not for the budget traveller. Like many people whenever I am choosing a hotel, especially when I am paying for it myself, I want to see as many photos of the room as I can. It can help me make a choice between a few hotels. Most hotels it seems either share too little or share a view that exists only in the photographers mind so it’s great when people share there photos like user Beeze has on Flickr.
See her photos here (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)