2014 — the year in which I changed my media consumption habits
Do you feel that the weeks lead into one another? Most importantly when last have you valued your attention span?
As someone who works in the Internet space, being online all the time is normal. We receive email at all times of the day, look for the most important news at one source (which is in hindsight almost impossible but yet we still look for that one source of satisfaction) and try to keep up with all of the important developments in your specific industry.
In 2013 I read a book that I think is a great starting point for any digital person’s well-being — The Information diet. The books major point is that we need to value of media consumption ie. how much time and value do I spend on news sources etc. 2014, was the year in which I place my attention in the same line as what a VC would do when seeing a lot of startups. The startups would be paid with my attention.
I started the road to better attenti0n span by cleaning my newsletter subscriptions. I realized that I was getting a lot of duplicate content from a wide variety of sources (in technology this is a huge problem..) and then started to unsubscribe myself from these attention aggregators.
Apps that save me from search results
Secondly — I did a search on the App store for apps that aggregate news. I found Circa and then downloaded it. I also kept seeing in my twitter stream a reference to The Ticker. I subscribed to it (it is a paid newsletter after 60 days of trial usage) and that has become my go to news source for daily technology news.
While using Ticker I found out that Jason Calacanis was working on an app that was called Inside. Inside has become a home screen addition as it bite sized news that is relevant. The only negative for me is that it is US focused but it is a huge time saver. When I travel to work I whip out my phone browse Inside and am informed. For me — this is the future of news: the size of a smartphone screen that only contains a summary and a link to the original story. Mobile first news is what the big media companies need to consider at scale to ensure their long term sustainability.
Newsletters — The Unsung Time Savers
2014 was also a year in which I subscribed to some great newsletters. theSkimm has become something of a must read in the afternoon for me. What I particularly like about theSkimm is that they focus on the really important news in a manner that I have not seen on any other service. The newsletter is an easy read and keeps you informed on the news that is important.
Then in the latter part of the year another great newsletter came on my radar. Bit of News is at the moment the best news source for global news. Also bite sized pieces and reads great on a mobile device. I believe that I have saved a lot of hours of duplicate, click baity news and these 4 solutions are all great investments for any person that wants to be informed.
Paid is not the end of the world
I am a subscriber to certain publications and the whole “information is meant to be free” debate is one in which I understand the merits of the argument but don't agree with it. If you don't pay — how will content creator be remunerated for their creative artistry? Ads — really? As someone who works for a mobile first business and live on the African continent, digital advertising is a challenge. A very large part of the consumption is done on mobile and at the moment mobile advertising is far from ideal. Paying for good content is the barter you do for not seeing ads.
If you are a knowledge worker (strategist, thought-leader or looking for an edge on the future) then you have to pay for a subscription to The Information. Jessica Lessin and her team of exceptional writers are making good on their promise of creating content that “focus on the stories that drive conversations and help our subscribers get ahead.” There is no articles that contain slideshows (hello Business Insider) or the mandatory stop at the advertising landing page (I am looking at you Forbes etc). Thorough investigation, thought provoking content and good writing is what you pay for and get. (Disclosure: I am a founding subscriber).
Then there are 2 other paid sources that go above and beyond the normal day to day technology content seen at TechCrunch, Pandodaily and Tech In Asia. Ben Thompson has become something of a daily routine for me. His writing and willingness to call a spade a spade is great. His insights into the 4 Four Horseman (Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon) is what makes me happy to pay for the content. Ben Bajarin and his band of merry writers at Techpinions are also a must read for me.
All of the above is what I believe, a change in personal consumption that most digital executives are going though. Fine tuning your personal attention investment will lead to having time to read longform or books.
Ask yourself a simple question in 2015 — does this content deserve my attention? Be an investment banker and look after your attention wealth by subscribing to some of the above apps, newsletters and publications.
Lastly, learn to switch off your mobile phone off on a Friday evening, delete facebook of your phone and start doing those walks with colleagues and friends like what Steve Jobs did.