Stuff I Learn Only From The BBC World Service

I just heard two early-morning episodes (Central Time) of the BBC series called, “The Why Factor.” One was about how America sees itself (followed next week by how it’s seen by the rest of the world) and the other on why people have different preferences in the types of music they enjoy. (More on that one in a second.)

I’ve written before about my fascination with contextual content (the hows, whys, data, background and how-tos) — as much as I am fascinated with the chronological content we news and info-junkies plug in to. The BBC is a great example of a vast media empire that uses its resources to add context — history programming, for example — into its constant flow of current news.

For example, here is a factoid I just learned on “The Why Factor” episode about music.

According to research conducted by Spotify,the generational difference in music preference between Millenials and Baby Boomers boils down to Skrillex vs. Roy Orbison. (Meaning, the music you’d least likely find any overlap among people who are teenagers vs. 60+.)

I’m convinced (but I’ll note I’m in neither camp):

Why Podcasting Is, Once Again, The Next Big Thing

Some of you may find this week’s Hammock Idea Email interesting. At the insistence of some pesky editors, I left out lots of the 10,000+ words I once wrote about podcasting. Also, as we like to keep these emails to 300 words, those editors suggested that my discussion of the difference in podcasting and streaming audio would (1) go over people’s heads, or (2) cause them to doze off (3) doesn’t matter to the people who read Idea Email. They also insisted that another tangent on the difference between Paul Saffo’s macro-myopia and Gartner’s Hype Cycle was equally un-riveting. Note: None of those editors review what I write on RexBlog — which explains a lot about the ramblings here.

Here’s how it starts — with a link to the rest of it. 

Amara’s Law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

—Roy Amara (1925–2007), Stanford Research Institute

Just as conventional wisdom was in the process of writing off podcasting, it is suddenly this year’s “it” media. Two weeks ago, The New York Times joined The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, NPR and other media companies to announce the creation of a team focused entirely on developing podcasts.

At the same time, NPR, Spotify, and others have launched a new generation of mobile apps that pre-select and stream topic-specific podcasts. (Listeners typically download and play podcasts using “podcatchers” like Apple’s Podcast app and Stitcher.)

(continue reading on

Out With Inbox

I’ve tried for several months to like Inbox, Google’s alternative email client for Gmail.

It’s still Gmail (or in my case, “Google Apps for Work’s Gmail for Work Professional Email” — branding has never been Google’s strong suit) but with a different interface.

I’ve stuck with it for months because there are some nice things about it, a nice interface for instance. Also, it seems to be what email is going to be like someday in the future. I say “it seems” because after using it for several months, you begin to not like that future.

Inbox is like many of the things Google creates. At first, it seems like an awesome idea that was a feature created by a company they  acqhired or a project that imploded, say Google+ or Google Buzz (or anything on this list).

Then, in the course of a business day, you discover that core features of how you use email are not yet in the new product. Things like saving something to Evernote or managing a task list — even if it’s Google’s task list. Perhaps there are work-arounds or perhaps the feature is right in front of you, but all those cool new features like bundling messages and snoozing them — cool new features that you’ve lived without for a couple of decades — aren’t a good trade-off for something you use all the time.

Then I discovered the Inbox by Gmail feature I use the most is the link to Gmail Without Inbox by GMail.

I may continue to use it on my iPhone. Maybe.

(See: There are 2 Googles, something I wrote six years ago.)

Fences, Walls & The Boy in Striped Pajamas

The 2008 film, Boy in Striped Pajamas, is a poignant but difficult movie to watch. When I saw it via Netflix recently, I was struck by how the imagery and message of the film evokes the imagery and message of the current presidential campaign of Donald Trump.*

The film is a fable (the implausible plot on which the film is based has been the subject of much debate) about two eight-year-old boys on opposite sides of a fence that surrounds a Nazi extermination camp (implied to be Auschwitz).

Bruno, the boy on the outside of the fence, is the son of the SS officer in command of the camp. With the innocence of an eight year old, Bruno believes the death camp is a farm where Shmuel, the boy on the inside of the fence, lives.

Building walls, making them pay

Continue reading Fences, Walls & The Boy in Striped Pajamas

Scott Adams on Why Trump Will Win in a Landslide

If facts don’t matter, you can’t really be wrong.

The Washington Post interviews Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams on why he started predicting last year that Trump would be elected president — back when the rest of us were saying, no way. (I still say, no way.)

Here are Adam’s reasons:

1. Trump knows people are basically irrational.
Continue reading Scott Adams on Why Trump Will Win in a Landslide