My ten favourite personal digital things

    • My Mac – despite my owning an iPhone, and a recently acquired iPad (that I am still not that sold on); my Mac is my most personalised computing space. It is my digital home. It is organised around me and seems to have its own personality. It even has a name: Toshiro after veteran Japanese actor 三船 敏郎 | Mifune Toshirō (the family name is first)
    • Fastladder – I have experimented with lots of different RSS readers and particularly liked Bloglines which I have used for a number of years. But Bloglines ran through a lot of neglect when owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC) and didn’t seem to work when I was in China – which was the final straw for me. I evaluated other options like Google Reader; which had a comparatively poor user experience and eventually came across Fastladder, an English language version of the Japanese language Livedoor RSS reader. It offers a slightly cleaner user experience than Bloglines. One thing does need to improve however is its compatibility with the iPad, which renders the site worse than useless. I am not a great fan of the JesusTablet for this very reason
    • Flickr – Flickr is what I consider to be the most under-rated web service that I know. It has a great community particularly build around its creative commons community, is brilliant at handling images and its APIs make it exceptionally flexible to do things with. I use it as a visual diary, image hosting for this blog and inspiration for presentations
    • Pinboard – I loved Delicious, but it got Bartz’d and I moved my information on to Pinboard as members of the Delicious engineering team that I knew had done the same. I love Pinboard’s reliability and simplicity and don’t mind that its essentially anti-social in nature. It’s interface reflects the lean aesthetic that Delicious went away from and its mercifully free of spam noise
    • The WELL – The WELL was the original electronic community. It has archives of forum threads (called conferences)  that covered every conceivable subject populated by the digerati. If I am noodling on an idea and it isn’t going there I will dip into a conference on The WELL that discussed it
    • Techmeme – Kind of like the Google News sci-tech stream but more signal, less noise. If you want to know what is happening in technology it is likely to turn up here pretty darned quick. It bills itself as the tech news site of record; whilst it is technically inaccurate, since its an aggregator of sorts rather than a true media, it certainly plays that role for me
    • Pew Research Internet and American Life project – free research that pokes and prods US consumer behaviour online that provides a useful steer on how things are going online. This has given me inspiration and slide fodder more times than I care to mention
    • Email – a bit of a surprise I know but it is such a great asynchronous communications platform. It gives me prompts when I need to go into Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, I can read it on the tube and on my personal account the mail.app that comes as part of OSX has got pretty good spam filtering built in and it covers the widest swathe of my social graph
    • Yojimbo – I haven’t bothered moving to Evernote as I have been a happy Yojimbo user for a number of years. I tried DEVONtechnologies DEVONthink; but found that whilst it was a brilliant piece of software, it was overkill for my requirements. However if I ever ending up writing a seven-part series of novels a la J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series; I wouldn’t hesitate to use DEVONthink to keep the plot consistent and all my research together
    • Hunch – not exactly the most popular social platform but fiendishly useful, its recommendations are extremely perceptive – so I love dipping in periodically. But these recommendations are also the light side of a warning. With big data, small details about your life can allow others to make pretty accurate assumptions, for instance a cluttered desktop screen shot is likely to belong to someone with liberal views. On the face of it no correlation, but with the right data set non-obvious linkages become apparent. That’s the clever stuff behind Hunch. Thankfully they are not evil