For the last two years I have been hammering away at two articles for this newsletter. One on the use of social media, and another on online services and mobility. But I have not been able to make either work (and with the speed of technological change, I have had to start over a couple of times)!
I have three issues I am trying to write about:
- Why do I have so many online services?
- Do I really have that much to say anyway?
- What do I wish I knew back then?
I don’t think that I am an electronic hoarder, but it is starting to feel that way. I have a lot of online services. A lot (about 90), but in my defence I have been looking for a one-stop shop for my needs, and that means trying out new things. Right now, for online storage, I have seven different services: Box; Dropbox, Google Drive; OneDrive; OneNote; Evernote, and a more secure cloud service my work provides.
I also have a number of email accounts, social media accounts and other more specific services like Google Sites for the websites I manage (don’t ask).
What I wanted was one place to either manage or see all these services.
I will save you the trouble, it does not exist.
Aggregators, software that brings different platforms together, are not the answer. They held out a lot of promise for sure, but many that started up a few years ago are now out of business. There is no service that would bring social media and cloud services, email accounts, and so on, together with an interface that allows you to use it.
I am on all of these services because at one time or another I needed them, or someone else shared something with me on one of these services so I had to join. For now, that is the way it will be, I guess.
What do I Really Have to Say?
OK, so I have lots of online services. But I do not have an agenda that includes communicating to the world using these services, even on an infrequent basis…so since I was not planning on building something, why did I go out and buy so many hammers?
Aside from this newsletter, I have no other reason to post my thoughts to the wide world. I am not someone who over-shares via Twitter or Facebook. I really set up my accounts to get a handle on these things before my kids get too into social media (and they have blown past me long ago in terms of what they are doing online).
What I Wish I Knew
- What I wanted/needed…planning for technology change is fruitless. My kids have the social media accounts I set up for them, but they now use other platforms, and I am still playing catch-up (and adding more social media services).
- I do not need to spend a lot of money on devices.
- My equipment’s limitations (if I knew that the Blackberry Q10s did not support my main cloud services, I would have done something differently).
- Figure out what you want. If you have a far-flung family, Facebook is likely the best for sharing pictures and planning get-togethers: just about everyone has (or can get) an account, and it is easy to use. You do not need private websites or 12 different social media platforms.
- Once you have that, figure out what you need (need, not want) to do. The only thing more expensive than an electronic device is multiple electronic devices. If all you do is surf, a tablet is great. If you type a lot or work on spreadsheets, get something that supports a keyboard and a mouse. If you use your phone only as a phone, don’t buy an $800 smartphone.
- Plan for change. Buy more memory than you need. Make sure your device is long for this world (sorry, BlackBerry). Companies like Apple ,Microsoft and Samsung are likely going to last, and will have apps for most of the things you want.
You simply cannot expect to have one program, social media account or device that does everything…and that is OK, since very likely, you are not going to do everything! But you should know roughly what you will be doing.
Recommendation: focus, plan, spend…and then stop spending!