The not-so-secret internet diary of a gen X man – the directors cut

Stephen Waddington’s daughter Ellie posted about her media consumption with a guest post on his blog, go and have a read of it. This snowballed into what is likely to be a series of media diary posts by different people. My contribution was published on his blog this morning. I penned the original as a stream of consciousness whilst laid up. I have cleaned up a few typos and expanded on a few bits for clarity, hence the director’s cut comment.

I wouldn’t say my media diary is that of a typical consumer, I have lived inside the technology-media industrial complex since the late 1990s and worked in the scientific side of the UK’s now largely defunct industry prior to that. I am steeped in counter-culture since the mid-1980s and spent a fair bit of time in Hong Kong – which changed my outlook somewhat. I am also unencumbered by family life at the moment.

The reaction so far to the posting has been interesting:

  • I was amused at being called a mature hipster, which I guess goes to prove that geeks are the new cool. I always thought of myself closer to the comic store owner in The Simpsons
  • The last part of the article was called out by a few people who got in touch, my comments on privacy seemed to touch a nerve in a way that my concerns about innovation didn’t. The UK economy is not going to get saved from going a bit Greece with just a few blockchain start-ups

Messenger for keeping in touch and on track

Over a decade ago I used to use Adium X, a multi-service instant messaging client for the Mac to keep in touch with a wide range of friends, colleagues, suppliers and clients. Each client was like hitting a different layer of clay in an archeological dig, indicating when I knew them.

People on ICQ where the longest held contacts, then Yahoo! Messenger (I even ended up working at Yahoo!), Windows Live messenger was purely about my time at Waggener Edstrom and GoogleTalk became de-rigeur when the bots on Yahoo! Messenger came too much.

Now I use WeChat, LINE, Signal, Skype and Telegram. Like IM platforms before it each messenger platform fits a segment of friends, colleagues and clients.

Flickr is an archive

I have friends that are talented photographers and you can’t convince me that some nice filters and a square picture adds up to the pretentions of photographic art that many people seem to feel it has. I have been on Flickr for 11 years and 18,345 photographs later, it would have to be a really compelling service that would get me to move. Flickr is my stock image library,it is my visual diary, image hosting for my blog and my mood board for when I am looking for inspiration at work.

I think it has a better community than Instagram because it isn’t ubiquitous, it still has that early web 2.0 smell to it, though my heart is in my mouth every time Yahoo!’s finances take a wobble.

Facebook is utilitarian

I use Facebook in a similar way to developer friends using Stack Overflow or other forums for professional social discourse on a couple of private groups. I don’t even bother with cognitive dissonance type of posts of it always being sunny on Facebook. I know it’s crap; in your heart-of-hearts you probably know it too. Facebook events are often used, alongside and Eventbrite. For loose network contacts, Facebook acts like a poorly designed phone book.

Twitter: I have a bot for that

Twitter is used as a messaging service for some of my friends, but mostly I use it to passively consume content like breaking news in lists and syndicate content that I find interesting. I do this syndication through various ‘recipes’ set up in IFTTT.

Media content

Steve Jobs talked about the only way to fight music piracy was to have a better idea. So for a number of years I have bought my music on iTunes, Bleep and Beatport alongside my love of vinyl records. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the record labels as they have consistently focused on short term blockbuster hits at the expense of slow and steady selling artists – which is especially retarded when you think about the long tail model of media consumption. They need to evolve their business model to become cheaper and more efficient in their A&R processes in order to do this. I have recently started ripping CDs into my music library again as an arbitrage play (these are often cheaper than digital downloads) or offer back catalogue content that digital services don’t.

I use a late model iPod Classic because of its 160GB storage. For streaming music I listen to mixes, mash ups, edits and remixes on Soundcloud and My current favourite remixer is Luxxury. I use the online radio channels (not Beats 1) in iTunes to have as relaxing background music prior to turning in at home.

I watch live news on television as the broadcast network is better for supporting big audience numbers in comparison to the infrastructure of the internet. We have more bandwidth at the edges, but still the same bottlenecks I experienced some ten years previously during the July 7 bombings in London.

I have an Apple TV box that I use for Netflix, internet radio and iTunes store content. Out of the terrestrial channels I tend to only use iPlayer as it is so much better designed than 4oD, ITV Player or Channel 5’s offering. I stream RTE News, Bloomberg TV and the BBC World Service. My favourite news content comes from Vice – it feels like the channel that CNN should have been and is less shaped to meet the norms of the establishment, though this will undoubtedly change in the near future.

News is apps and RSS.

My RSS reader of choice is I was a minority amongst my peers in that I never trusted my bookmarks and OPML data to Google’s Reader, instead using Bloglines and then Both of which where driven out of business by Google prior to them closing Reader.

Instead bookmarking is done with I also get news from the RTE News app, a breaking news list I built in Twitter,, and the South China Morning Post mobile app. If you’d asked me this ten years ago then The Economist would have been on here, but its been replaced by and Monocle magazine.

When I get to read a newspaper; it is the FT and the Wall Street Journal on the way home from work as a way to decompress, or the weekend FT for a mellow Saturday morning. I still read the US edition of Wired magazine in a print copy as the accompanying digital subscription has somehow become borked on my iPad. My media indulgence would be occasionally rifling through the pages of Japanese style magazine Free & Easy.

I subscribe to a number of email newsletters for specialist analysis.

Brands that cut through

The brands that cut through for me are ones that cut their own path. I don’t wake up in the morning and think:

hell yeah I want to engage with a brand on a social channel

With people like Carhartt, Gregory Mountain Products, Canon, Nikon, Mystery Ranch, Barebones Software, Apple, S-Double Studios, Porter Tokyo and IWC Schaffhausen the product is the marketing – the online marketing efforts of these brands are coincidental. I do know that many of these brands do spend a good deal of effort to influence the kind of publications that I read. Monocle magazine does a really good job of integrating marketing and content.

I buy much more online now, the high street has become quite bland, especially after having lived in Asia. I use trans shipment company to buy items in Japan and has replaced many of the none-impulse purchases that I would have made at Argos.

Challenge for brands, media and life itself

The internet has come to mirror the wonders, banalities and horror of everyday life. As I write this Ellen Pao had resigned as CEO at Reddit. Reddit is a poster child for all of these categories from organising gifts for the poor to water cooler chatter, racism and death threats against Ms Pao.

Culture has now been made massively parallel by the internet. As an 18 year old, I remember having to get a train down to London to go trawling through specialist shops from Camden to Soho  looking for Stussy clothing and records on the Japanese Major Force label. Now everything is up on YouTube or Soundcloud for you to enjoy.

Making a difference is a work in progress

Like Ellie, I am not that optimistic about aspects of the world. In many respects the concerns of gen-y&z mirrored concerns of a young gen-x. I held McJobs and had a constant fear of unemployment over my head, was concerned about nuclear holocaust, economic meltdown and an environmental dystopian future – concerns that I still have today. There is an anti-science bias and a lack of hard innovation coming through that will fuel the next forty years of innovation. The current outlook reminds me a bit of the film Interstellar where the lack of willingness to focus on anything but on our own small plot was killing humans as a species. The current political climate with regards to privacy and digital services indicates a luddite and megalomaniac political tinge, where freedom is being sacrificed for the illusion of safety from extremism. The only thing that actually offers that freedom is a better idea, not an Orwellesque vision of privacy.

About Ged Carroll

Ged currently works heading up digital services at Racepoint Global in London. He lives in the East End and spends a lot of time in Hong Kong. You’ll find him online at renaissance chambara.

More information

Luxxury on Soundcloud
RTE News Now
South China Morning Post