BEFORE I EVEN THINK about making (or reviewing) New Year's Resolutions, I'm ticking off a list of things I plan to shed in 2009. If I'm ruthless, I will eliminate more than $500 from my monthly outgoings. That's less than the pay cut I've taken this year but it's a start towards focusing on things that pay off in terms of time and money. With the reality of job cutbacks now looming as a result of the Minister for Finance wielding an axe across the education sector, it's prudent for me to start cutting back on things that do not fit into our kitchen along with the blue dots at left. Thankfully, there's good value in many of the services, subscriptions and sotware updates that I've used consistently during the past year. Now, it's off to terminate the first hundred euro.Sent mail2blog using free wifi while Foursquaring in the Cashel Palace Hotel.
WE ARE STILL OVERSATURATED with rainwater in South Tipperary, but that didn't stop me from thumbing through three Irish broadsheets while thinking out loud (13-minute Qik clip). Lead stories reveal voter anger over the impending Irish national budget , upset over the combinted cost of payments to former national politicians exceeding EUR 12m last year , and how families will be asked to survive with EUR 300m cut from child benefits.  The photo attached to the MP3 (at left) is from a Sunday Times appeal  for Iraqi children who need a helping hand. More than 8,000 children have been burnt and disfigured in the conflict in Iraq. They need life-changing treatment in hospitals but there's no money to fund their operations. I think I'll cut back some of my wishlist  and shovel a fistful of euro towards burn victims. If you want to hear more of my round through the Sunday newspapers in Ireland, click the button below or subscribe to Inside View via iTunes.
BECAUSE THE FIRST SCREEN in my life is my laptop, I get most of my information about events and people through the online social networks where my eyes travel. I travel across blogs (using newsfeeds), Facebook (using a handrolled category called "baggage handlers"), LinkedIn (into the discussion groups) and Twitter (primarily with search terms). All four of these zones have a lot of noise, so I have to be ruthless in what I see and click. All four of these online social networks can be used efficiently to give some shape and colour to events like OpenCoffee, something Wannita is doing at right. If you're an event organiser, it would pay off to invite a knowledgeable blogger to your event. It's a lot easier to get the word out by asking someone who already has an audience to write clever things about your event. I'm prodded to attend events on Facebook as well and before I register an interest, I normally glance at who has indicated they're attending. I've restricted myself to attending fewer events in 2009 and suspect I will be even more selective in 2010. If I know I can hook up with friends while at an industry event, I'll let myself go. If I don't attend, I'll try to find photos from the event on Flickr. LinkedIn also has an RSVP system but I get greater value out of discussions that event managers start on LinkedIn--assuming those discussions actually map out onto the agendas of the upcoming events. Twitter can create a buzz about events through clever use of hashtags but unless I limit my flow of activity to the event hashtag and replies, I get very distracted during the event itself. That said, Twitter has helped me discover real connections at industry events while using my mobile phone to check newsfeeds, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Valuable social facilitation is happening through trusted online networks and I'm glad to be able to see ways on my screens to gather live information through those networks.
WITH AN OVERSATURATED landscape all around Ireland, I'm off to the quays of Clonmel to see water behaving as though it was an ocean current. The force and pressure of the River Suir is stressing embankments that have been partially reinforced against the occurrence of a 75-year event. That's what is happening around most of ireland--persistent rain is soaking the landscape at a rate seen once every 75 years. In my local area, oversaturation means slurry-laced wash-off can trickle into the fresh water supplies. I recommended to my visitors from Oregon that they don't accept water with ice cubes from any Irish venue becaus there is no guarantee that local tap water has been boiled before serving or freezing. Our car has brown weeds attached to its rear bumper and strands of grass poking through its alloy wheels after navigating standing water deeper than two feet between Freshford and Kilkenny. Traffic announcements from Bus Eireann and Irish Rail include summaries of entire town centres closed to traffic. As I type this in my mobile phone, AA Roadwatch solemnly announce all traffic into and out of Cork is suspended. Unfortunately for the businesses in Cashel, the coach traffic originating from the south cannot get onto the main routes for an extended walkabout of the Rock of Cashel. It would be a good day to count today as a national strike because a wide swath of people just can't get to work. Outside, it feels warmer than November. I wonder if that's a sign. Sent mail2blog using Nokia E90 O2-3G service on the N24 into Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.
TWO YEARS AGO, when prominent Irish bloggers were spending an increasing amount of time flopping around inside Twitter and Jaiku, I overheard a conversation at Barcamp Cork about the rising number of channels that were competing for people's attention. I remember that chat because the consensus seemed to be that people spent most of their time in 15 sites. Even though some of those barcampers professed to open more than 70 tabs at a time on Firefox, their online worlds were no more expansive than 15 sites. Since that time, I think our online environment has atrophied even further, mainly because things like tight email windows on iPhones and 140 character limitations on Twitter have spotlighted the finite nature of human attention. My blogging has slipped. The number of Irish blogs hovers around 4,000 with no real change during the past year. Five years ago, I'd punch out five posts a day without realising it. Now I'm lucky to get one post up every day. And when I produce more than a single post, it's normally because I've sent something up to the cloud from my mobile phone. In Google Reader, the number of fresh posts from Irish bloggers is dropping off the chart. And I also thik there's a declining interest in RSS as well, perhaps pounded into submission by the iPhone's lack of RSS support.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, college students in Tipperary Institute placed chairs and desks around common areas with descriptions of college societies. At the time, I thought passersby might have also enjoyed learning about the vibrant online societies that occupy students' time. While at my desk (video at right), I've seen several online networks that attract a lot of interest from our third level students. You can find more accurate information about student profiles--especially on Facebook--than by looking at profile information kept by the academic services unit in my college. Facebook's Tipperary Institute group is a virtual hive of activity with students showcasing scratch work as it evolves. Some of the artistic endeavours percolate over to Deviant Art and Flickr where a whole new circle of followers hibernates. Then there's the unofficial campus radio station, found by listening to playlists on Last.fm and Blip.fm. I'm a fan of several playlist collections that a dozen different students have cobbled together. All these online networks involve meaningful contact outside classroom hours and in my mind, they deserve recognition as parts of extracurricular college life.
Sent mail2blog using Nokia E90 O2-Typepad service while Foursquaring in O Tuamas of Clonmel.
WHEN DERVALA HANLEY visited Tipperary Institute and spoke to creative multimedia students about innovation at the city guide level, I hadn't realised that she actually worked with the Foursquare team in another life. After playing with Foursquare for nearly a month, I've "checked in" at around 100 places, topped the Irish leaderboard by becoming the first person in the Dublin group to visit 50 unique venues as well as becoming mayor of more than 10 places. Along the way, I discovered I'm easily victimised by the serious gaming nature of Foursquare. This is not like a game application on Facebook--this is a game-based metaphor for people who like getting out. My quest for badges--I collected 10 of them in two weeks--could push me into late night clubbing more than any other motivation. And if Foursquare turned on the juice to its API, all sorts of extra activity would fill my nights as venues pushed enticing information (i.e., special offers, location advice, ways to get physical copies of badges) to my phone. It's fun to tag, share and shout across Foursquare and to earn unexpected badges, like one for staying out extra-late during a school night. Although Foursquare lacks the diversity of information offered when using Google Latitude, it's interesting to read what's tagged around different places. Look up "pizza" when using Foursquare in Dublin and you can see what others have said about Italian food. Unfortunately, some of the power users I'm following don't say much. This is important because quality recommendations are a core part of Foursquare's DNA and think it would be only natural to have a five-star rating guide made part of Foursquare because commercial premises can live or die on their ratings. In other cities, commercial offerings are appearing on Foursquare screens: "Show you have checked in on Foursquare and that you're mayor and get a FREE drink!" This kind of viral promotion will work well with Dublin pubs and attract clusters of people who just happen to be in the same part of Foursquare. I've already seen a table of people hunched over their iPhones in dimly-lit corners while the bartender asked me, "What are they doing over there?" "They're in another place," I told him. "But they still have to buy their drinks."
I'm topgold on Foursquare. I'm the guy adding a lot of the sunny southeast to the Foursquare "Dublin" city guide, because I can.
Drew Benvie -- "Permission to Market to You Right Here Right Now" on his blog, 16 Nov 09.
FACED WITH AN IMPOSING backlog of unread items, I steamed through two Sunday broadsheets and made a 7-minute Qik clip of content that caught my eye in the Sunday Times and Sunday Business Post (SBP). The screenshot at left comes from Agenda Magazine's coverage inside the SBP, showing the best blog-to-book in the Irish market. I labeled several stories from the Sunday papers with hashtags that explain the content below the break. I've discovered I can make more sense of my information overload by hashtagging things that drop onto my mobile phone (the "first screen" where I aggregate my life). Hashtagging helps me think in terms of genres and helps me read faster. Thankfully, themes like "innovation" and "sustainability" are recurring themes in the papers, giving some hope that Ireland will pull out of its unfortunate property-fueled recession. Less than three weeks remain before nearly every member of Irish society will feel the pain of an austere government budget. Some of today's topics reflect this new austerity.
DESSSID, AN IPHONE app that allows easy access to a large swath of Eircom wifi nodes in my housing estate, is currently the top-selling application in the Irish version of iTunes. It sells for EUR 1.59 and effectively exploits a flaw in the hardware supplied by Eircom. The flaw first appeared in my Nokia newsfeeds from Boards.ie more than a year ago. Unless Eircom customers have changed their out-of-the-box set-up, dessid can generate a password from the network using the unique eight-digit-name that it broadcasts. This app goes a long way towards facilitating free wifi access across the Republic of Ireland, an essential ingredient of digital access to information. Sent mail2blog using Nokia E90 O2-Ireland Typepad access while foursquaring at Starbucks in Dublin. x_ref125mw #technology