Monday, August 22, 2016

Picking up the Pace Again

I haven't been paying enough attention to my personal blog of late (this last few days excepted) so I'm giving myself a challenge to pick up the pace again and write something 5 times a week (i.e. week days). I may not publish each time I write, but if I write that frequently, then there's half a chance that I'll write some articles I think are worth publishing and therefore, will increase my output over the coming weeks and months. It's all too easy to publish on Facebook and Twitter and then you can lose the things you've been talking about. If I can collate everything there, then it can act as my searchable archive.

If you've found this post, then you know my blog is here at http://technokitten.com . There's a box in the side bar where you can add your email address and that means you'll get an email for each day that I publish a new article. On days I don't write anything, you won't receive anything. It's completely free. If you prefer to hang out on Facebook, you can follow me there at http://facebook.com/technokittenblog and I'm going to do my best to cross post each article there too.  And if Twitter is more your thing, I'm there too under the moniker @technokitten. You'll also find me on Google+ and LinkedIn and you can follow me there. If you would like to add me as a connection on LinkedIn, please personalise the request so that I can see how we know each other.

I mostly write about mobile technology, but not exclusively. I'm also interested in digital apps and services in general (and how that impacts on our lives), the ethics and usage of Artificial Intelligence, the future of media (especially news), mobile marketing and advertising (well, I've been working in the sector for over 15 years), wearable devices and the Internet of Things (that's gadgets we wear and gadgets that talk to each other). I come to these topics as a pragmatist or analyst rather than an evangelist. I'm not a programmer so although I may lurch into technical speak from time to time, it shouldn't be beyond the understanding of a non-techie. I also share links to what I'm reading if I think it's worth wider thought or discussion or I'm searching for opinions.

And yes, I also use my blog to promote the events and initiatives I produce and support.

(I'm also relatively close to a milestone number of blog posts published over the years so that's another incentive for me to keep writing.)

Thanks in advance for your support.

Things that make you go hmmm about advertising & journalism

I'm cooking up both a longer blog post and a discussion event about ad blocking, future of advertising (which is also the future of journalism in some ways), business models to support both/either etc. I'm hoping to be able to hold the event in September. Watch this space.
In the meantime, here's some food for thought on journalism, advertising and business models  http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/08/whats-missing-from-journalism
TLDR : Mother Jones', a US title, published a groundbreaking story on prisons that contributed to a change in government policy. It cost $350,000 and generated $5,000 in online ad revenue and is now looking at a donation business model.

(The irony isn't lost on me that I read the article while using an ad-blocker.)

(via http://ben-evans.com/ rather good weekly newsletter)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On the Relentless Pursuit of a Meaningful Life

Screenshot of page one of an image search 21 August 2016

I don’t know if your Facebook feed is anything like mine, but mine is chock full of friends, contacts and brands sharing motivational quotes, affirmations, tips on meditation and mindfulness, yoga poses, and useful articles to hack your life, reach your goals, follow your dreams and be the best version of you that you can be. I know you know the kind of stuff I’m talking about. In theory, these are all things to help us live a happier and more fulfilled life, about finding our purpose and to improve.

I’m not immune to this stuff either. I’ve shared a lot of this stuff on social media myself. I’ve done the Tony Robbins thing twice (albeit more than 10 years ago now) and found it very beneficial both times I went. The first time I went, I can remember coming away thinking I must have a big purpose in me, but ten years later and I’m still none the wiser as to what that is. I’ve also read my fair share of self-help books. Well, I’ve read a few of them cover to cover, others I’ve just dipped in and out of. Some remain firmly unread.

Here is one such article I was reading on Saturday morning by Umair Haque, ‘Three Rules for a Meaningful Life’ which prompted this thinking. It’s not bad advice per se – it’s about finding meaning and the genius within for a happy life. And it’s written from the heart, I’m sure.

But what if there is no meaning, or at least no particular meaning for you? What if you haven’t found that life’s purpose that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning? What if financial or familial responsibilities and circumstance dictate living your life in a different way than one of pursuing your dreams? What if you never had a dream in the first place?

Not everyone is born knowing they want to be an accountant, doctor, mechanic or entrepreneur. I daresay there are few who actually know what they want to do when they grow up but I’m sure it’s not universal. I’ve always felt that people who have always known what they want and are able to pursue that are incredibly lucky. They don’t face years of indecision and worry about whether or not they’re making the right choices in life. That frees them up to, you know, pursue their dream.

I shared this on Facebook on Saturday – you can read and comment on the thread here as it’s public. I couldn’t find the original article I was reading about it being ok to NOT have meaning in your life and to muddle through. I remember when I read it feeling more than a little relief. Not having an over-arching ‘purpose’ has made me feel like I’m missing out or not contributing enough or something and that it was something I should have but don’t and on reading this article, I realised that it’s ok to not have a purpose too or to have great meaning in your life.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. How do you deal with this stuff? Do you have your purpose and meaning sorted out and live your life by it? Is it possible to feel fulfilled and engaged with life without a ‘purpose’? Does it matter?

In lieu of the specific article, I have found some other articles of interest and others have shared theirs and I’ve listed the links below for further reading on the topic.

Online articles (all free to read and in no particular order)

Mark Manson, 7 Strange Questions That Help you Find your Life Purpose.

The Meanings of Life by Professor Roy F Baumeister

The Jam Study Strikes Back. This is fascinating. The gist here is that too much choice of jam on the supermarket shelf results in fewer sales. We only have so much capacity for decision making and when there’s too much choice we become demotivated and end up choosing nothing. I think there’s a lot in this that could relate to our digital lives too. It’s something I’ll have to come back to.

Iona Goulder: Why Trying to Be Happy Makes us Anxious

A History of Happiness – William James

Kali Holloway, The Salon, Wellness is Making us Sick. How Corporate America’s Mantra Leaves us All Feeling Inadequate.

James Clear, Why having no goals in life can make you happier and more successful. TLDR Systems are better than goals.

Kyle Eschenroeder, 5 Reasons why you should stop thinking about purpose in your life. TLDR  ‘those of us who don't have a clearly defined purpose shouldn't let it bother us’.

Anke Holst, A Lesson On Indiscriminate Change (the topic is tackled about half way and continued in the comments)

Book recommendations

The Art of Choosing. The decisions we make everyday of our lives and what they say about us and how we can improve them by Sheena Iyengar

The Tyranny of Choice by Renata Salecl

Friday, August 19, 2016

Move over PokemonGo, You're PokemonGone with FreeBetHunt on the loose

The recent frenzy around the augmented reality PokemonGo mobile game can’t have escaped most of you. Whether it was you, your friends, your colleagues or your children who were hooked, there’s no doubt that PokemenGo had an immediate impact with some crazy scenes of mass PokemonGo players from across the globe. In case you missed the frenzy, my friend George did a little video about it to help explain the overnight sensation that was 20 years in the making.



I must admit, I did succumb, briefly, to see what all the fuss was about. It was kinda fun to play in Central London and it was kinda fun to compare which Pokemon you had with friends. But outside of that, not so much fun when you’re outside a big city due to lack of Pokestops and lack of Pokemon to actually catch that weren’t Rattatas, Spearows or Pidgeys. It also slowed down my walking when I’m actively trying to increase both my step count and the effort I put into my steps.

When PokemonGo first hit the market, you could see people playing locally where I live as it turned them into Pokemon zombies wandering aimlessly near Pokestops searching for rare virtual creatures. But that’s all but stopped now from what I can tell as the novelty has worn off. I deleted the app from my phone last week. The vibe was over.

It seems, however, that I was wrong. Brands are now getting in on the act and coming up with their own PokemonGo inspired geo-targeted treasure hunts.

The first is a game from betting company, 888Sport, imaginatively entitled 'Free Bet Hunt'. Instead of hunting Pokemon, you can hunt free bets around football stadiums.

FreeBetHunt is not quite as pretty as Pikachu's virtual playground. However, that may not matter. I’m not exactly the target market for this as I neither bet nor have any interest in football despite my surname being the same as a famous footballer of the late 20th Century. So, is this a winning strategy to get football fans betting more? I don’t know. How interested are 21st Century football fans with virtual treasure hunts? I guess time will tell. I welcome your comments on that score. I do applaud 888Sport on their speed to market though and their willingness to experiment with new technologies.

More info on how to play here (you need to be over 18 and have an 888Sport account and have deposited actual money in it in order to qualify).

Friday Tidbits

I’ve been neglecting my blog in favour of Facebook and I think it’s time to get back to my blog and give it some tlc. I’m going to start with an easy post listing some things I’ve been reading and thinking about lately. So here goes...

Jakob Nielsen talks sense about UX in the corporate world. The older readers among you will no doubt remember Mr Nielsen from the early days of the web and his seminal book Designing Web Usability – The Practice of Simplicity. Well, he’s still around and still dishing out sound advice such as in this podcast and interview about how to tackle usability in the corporate world.

Male exec gets it completely wrong on diversity within the ad industry and has to resign his very senior and very well paid role within global ad agency. Read all about it here.

Brexit – A story in maps. This article is fascinating whichever way you did or didn’t vote. It’s not nearly as clear cut as we might have thought and the picture is more complex than London, Northern Ireland and Scotland are in and the rest of the UK voted out. It depends on which way you cut and interpret the data for a much more nuanced view. I don’t envy Theresa May and the job she has on her hands right now.

A great read on burnout here – a modern day and very real affliction. “Burnout is not simply a symptom of working too hard. It is also the body and mind crying out for an essential human need: a space free from the incessant demands and expectations of the world. In the consulting room, there are no targets to be hit, no achievements to be crossed off. The amelioration of burnout begins in finding your own pool of tranquility where you can cool off’.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Upcoming events I'm hosting in San Francisco, Mountain View, New York & LA

I'm very excited to be back in the USA for a trip next month. It's been a few years since I was last Stateside and I'm looking forward to seeing friends old and new. As part of the trip, I'm organising and hosting several events with Lloyd Davis from The Tuttle Club and James Tagg, co-founder of Truphone, inventor of the LCD touchscreen and author of 'Are the Androids Dreaming Yet'. The events are all free to attend and I hope you'll be able to join me.

Please follow the links and RSVP for the events you'd like to come to. RSVP is required for each event.

hi_res_logoThe first event is on Monday 2 May 2016  and is a Swedish Beers Party in San Francisco. We'll be at Keeper's Share which is the private bar at Rickhouse Bar at 246 Kearny. The first few drinks are on Truphone and FTI Consulting!


Next there are three talks and discussions going to three different cities. The topic is 'When Will Our Smartphones be Smarter than Us? AI and the Future of Mobile.' James Tagg is our keynote speaker with further guests and speakers at each event.

Our dates and locations are:

Tuesday 3 May 2016 - Mountain View - we're having brunch at Xanh which is near the Caltrain station. We'll be there between 11.30 and 13.30. James will be joined by speakers from FTI Consulting. Brunch is courtesy of Truphone and FTI Consulting.

Thursday 5 May 2016 - New York City - we're at LMHQ with breakfast at 09.30 to 11.30 with our friends from Truphone and Longneck and Thunderfoot.

Monday 9 May 2016 - Los Angeles - we're downtown with our friends at IndieDesk from 18.30 to 21.30. James will be joined by Sam Liang from AI Sense. We'll be serving drinks and snacks.

I'm on the lookout for additional speakers and sponsors, so if you're up for either of those, please get in touch by email.