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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Cutting the current

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, particularly since I never actually seem to keep them. But I start with good intentions, so I suppose that is at least something.

In 2009, I vowed to read less, but better. That sort of happened, but the mass of information makes it difficult to resist.

In 2010, I attempted to widen my reading sources, by rotating my online sources of news. I lasted for about a fortnight, but more pressing priorities meant it quickly fell by the wayside.

Nevertheless, I return once again with a resolution for 2011.

It is quite similar to the 2009 resolution in that it is another attempt to combat information overload. But rather than simply say I will try to read more but better, this is hopefully a process that will help me achieve it.

In 2011, I will take a conscious step-back from real-time content consumption, and intentionally read (most) news and commentary much later than their time of publishing.

I’m not going to be as prescriptive as saying it will be 12 hours, or 48 hours, a week or a month. Particularly, since posts on MediaGuardian will be more time-sensitive than those on New Yorker. But I’m going to avoid the regular refreshing of Google Reader, and let links build up.

The last couple of months has proven the efficiency of this appraoch to me. An incredibly busy November and December meant I had to cut down my reading and surfing. Over the Christmas break, I have largely caught up on my RSS feeds and bookmarks. Google Reader trends tells me that in the last 30 days I’ve read circa 2,500 items. That would previously have been circa 3,500, while the current figure also includes items over a month old.

But there are many other benefits.

In the character of C’s, here are five interrelated reasons why I think this approach will suit me.  No fancy graphics. Sorry.

SIDENOTE: I’ve exaggerated it for the purpose of this post, but what is with the proliferation of lists consumed with Cs – is it the most alliterative word for media and technology related content? Whether Brian Solis5 C’s of community or Srinivasana et al’s eight factors that influence customer e-loyalty, its popularity is clear.

1. Concentration through centralisation and classification

What I found most striking in my catch-up of links was that I was far more selective in what I chose to read. When caught in the fire-hose, I may have read the same story four times from four different sources, not knowing who else would be picking up on the topic. Now, I’m able to select from a complete list of sources on my radar. A more discriminating selection process will also free up more time to do other important things. Like sleep.

It also benefits long-form content consumption, since I’m no longer in a hurry to steam through articles. Recently, I’ve been enjoying Vanity Fair, Atlantic and New Yorker pieces courtesy of services such as Give Me Something to Read – here is their best of 2010

2. Curation through collation and compilation

I’m not totally sold on curation – services like paper.li just annoy me. But trusted editors can make a difference. I don’t necessarily need to scour every link looking for the most interesting pieces, when people such as Neil Perkin crowdsource recommendations or people like Bud Caddell point to interesting things.

Incidentally, I may once again resurrect my link updates. I may not. It depends how this experiment goes.

3. Conversation through community and comments

Although the number of comments might be dwindling (or merely refocusing on the biggest sites with an active community), they can still be incredibly valuable.

Initial comments tend to be from sycophants or – in the case of social media monitoring blogs – companies such as Alterian or Radian 6 proving their scraping technology works but later comments can be insightful in their critiquing or extending the authors points. Helpfully, Disqus now sorts comments based on popularity (I should really start voting).

4. Context through critique and connections

Whether it is through comments or from myself connecting different commentaries or posts, different items can be combined or juxtaposed for context and additional understanding. And often it is the connectors that are more interesting than the nodes themselves.

5. Contemplation through consideration and cogitation

Finally, moving away from real-time motivates reflection and critical thinking. The need to rush into a response has been marginalised. I can ponder and muse before I decide whether to write a response to something or not. Nicholas Carr would be proud.

To make this work, each person will have a unique system that works for them. Mine is using Read It Later – a bookmarking service that syncs across devices. It also works within Google Reader, though I suspect I may need to also use stars if the volume of bookmarks needs additional features to distinguish information (on time-sensitivity, if not topic)

Of course, there are drawbacks to this approach.

  • It effectively makes me a lurker rather than an active contributor, so I’ll be taking more than giving.
  • I will continue to link, comment and blog but most likely after the fact, once people have moved on and the topic has lost some relevance. A balance will undoubtedly need to be struck.
  • I’ll have lower visibility through not being not being an early commenter or tweeter, and link-baiting my wares – though Twitter does seem to have made blog commenting and responding far more infrequent anyway. I think I can live with a lower Klout score, since I’m not doing this to reach an arbitrary number of undifferentiated people.

Let’s see how I get on.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36593372@N04/5198073390/

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Recommended Reading – 18th June 2010

It’s been a few weeks since my last update. I’ve kept the recommendations to a manageable number – seven – which means that the average quality of the posts and articles I’m linking to is even higher than usual. Enjoy.

  • Bud Caddell asks his readers to help him define strategy. He has put several of his definitions to image.

sk

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Recommended reading – 30th April 2010

This week, I am mostly recommending:

Will Humphrey on the differences between PR and advertising, having now worked in planning departments for both sides

Bud Caddell presents a very thorough overview of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Not a bad basis for questionnaire design in certain instances.

Sam Page has an excellent analysis of Jeff Francouer’s swing which shows how powerful statistical evidence and observational evidence can be when properly combined. I promise I’m not planning to post a Baseball link every week, but this is a really strong piece of work, and should be readable for all irrespective of sporting preferences.

Tom Slee’s eloquent rebuttal to Clay Shirky’s Collapse of Complex Business Models. I like Shirky as a writer, and I don’t mind the occasional extrapolation of anecdotes if they prompt further discourse and discussion, but some excellent points are raised.

Ken Auletta has a long, thought-provoking piece in the New Yorker on how Amazon versus Apple are lining up in the battle of the book business.

sk

Two years old, and recommended reading

It’s been two years since my first, tentative, blog post at this address. I’m pleased that it is still going strong but I have been a bit neglectful of it. So, over the coming months I’m going to attempt to do the following

  • Refresh my blog roll – something which is long overdue
  • Post more regularly – I don’t want to commit to an artificial schedule, despite the recent regularity of my Sunday posting. The content on this blog is the most valuable thing – certainly to me, since it helps me formalise my thinking – and it shouldn’t be compromised for the sake of frequency
  • Start a blog project/series – due to a rather hectic start to the year, my news-gathering is on hiatus. However, there are a couple of things I think would work as part of an ongoing theme, rather than a single entry blog
  • Investigate porting the blog over to a hosted domain – I bought a URL and hosting a year ago, and then did nothing with it. There is no overwhelming need to have my own website, and I’m slightly concerned about porting over links and the RSS feed, but it should be something I look into to
  • Resume my link updates

And this last bullet is where I am going to start. We are who we know, and I am regularly educated and inspired by a whole range of content across the web – both “professional” and “amateur”.

When posting new content on my blog, my priority will always be to first be selfish – write content I want to, that can help benefit my understanding or thinking. However, I haven’t been generous enough recently, and I want to resolve that by sharing my inspiration.

My link updates stopped around a year ago, pretty much when I changed jobs (draw your own conclusions) but I’m going to attempt to resume them on a weekly basis.

I’m also going to be changing the names of the posts to “Recommended reading”. “Link updates” sounds too automated. What I am trying to do is curate the best things I have recently read, and convey why I think they’re so good.

So, without further ado, here are eighteen posts I’ve read over the past month that I’d recommend (future posts won’t be this long, but I’ve got some catching up to do:

Learning and working

I loved this Wired article on how athletes are increasingly turning to video games in order to help them learn their strategies. It makes sense, since the Madden series is arguably the most complex game on the market. Technology democratises information, and augments and improves our talents in our chosen fields.

This article struck a chord with it. In striving for perfection, the Duke Nukem game has been in development for over a decade, and indeed has just shut down. There is a point where we have to say that something is “good enough”.

This is quite a short Havard Business blog post on setting goals but I liked the notion that they tend to promote mediocrity rather than excellence. Should we be looking to improve where our skills are lacking – to be well-rounded but average – or should we be looking to push ourselves further in the areas we excel in.

This great post on how to hire programmers is applicable for all industries. Are they smart? Can they get stuff done? Can you work with them?

I liked this New Yorker piece on the reviewers for the Michelin Guide, and the inherent tension there is between objectivity and subjectivity when assessing.

Business strategy

Suw Charman-Anderson has written the best refutation of Google Buzz, and its privacy implications, I have seen. I continue to be amazed that Google just launched this on unsuspecting users, without either a gradual roll-out or a beta label.

I read Venessa Miemis’ post on the Apple iPad after I had posted up my own sceptical viewpoint. A shame, as she offers a comprehensive summary of the different views and issues surrounding the product, with regard to design thinking

Wired has a piece on how a Monopoly online game, intended to be a quick promotional tool, became far more popular than anticipated. Should they end the game as intended, or take advantage of its success and continue to operate it?

It has already made several circuits of the blogosphere, but if you are still yet to read it, I would thoroughly recommend Bud Caddell’s views on what the advertising agencies of the future should be

Julie at Brandtwist says that we need a brand building strategy rather than a social media strategy, and I completely agree.

Consumer understanding

I mentioned Doc Searls’ Vendor Relationship Management concept in a previous post, and this blog post conveys how it can be of benefit to us

An interesting article on the confessions of a book pirate. It is vital to understand people’s motivations, rather than simply castigating and criminalising them.

Village Voice looks at the decade in music hype. I find it fascinating how large swathes of culture can be completely transitory, yet remnants remain and get repurposed by subsequent generations

Marketing and advertising

Helge Tenno’s expanded version of his seven actionable marketing trends presentation is extremely detailed, and packed full of inspirational ideas and quotes on how marketing is and should be evolving.

This Big Spaceship post has some excellent thoughts on why we should move away from trying to create a “viral”, in order to understand how people share and why things spread.

Chris Heathcote looks at all of the different types of screen available, and puts them into context for advertising.

Blogs

Rather than a single post, I urge everyone to visit Roger Ebert’s blog. Ebert is a widely respected film critic who has been suffering with cancer and can no longer eat, drink or talk. He has put a great deal of his energy into his writing, and it is wonderful.

And for those that want yet more reading, Rex at Fimoculous has linked to his thirty favourite blogs of 2009.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boxercab/427774884/

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