A phrase

The grander gesture. If you watch too much series, films and read too many books in a row, you’ll start believing that most people’s lives are made up of grand gestures. Of escape plans, of making a point. Of making things happen. But I don’t know anyone who actually does that. I’ve seen people break with their lives – in some form – and go abroad, start over and do something new. I’ve seen people travel, not caring about jobs or education for a while. I’ve seen people taking it easy for a while. But I haven’t seen the montage, the dramatic music, the making-a-point… It doesn’t exist like that, not in my real life.

I always dream up album titles, some good, some funny, some really bad. A while ago I stumbled onto a bad one. Still, it’s been stuck in my head, like some sort of mantra. It keeps popping up. Probably because I like to criticize my own behavior and choices. Like I need to move to an even better place but do not in the end. Not going through with something like that feels like letting myself down, even though I realize it’s actually the better option for so many different reasons. Simply the fact that it’s the less exciting choice, though, makes me feel like letting myself down. There’s no other reason. I’m getting better at thinking something’s good enough, I’ve grown in that way in the past year.

A good moment to reflect, these final days of 2012. But I don’t even want to do that. 2012 has been a good year but it’s also been a difficult year. Difficult to make it good. I think my life was way easier when I was just ignoring the bad stuff instead of trying to fix it. So, while my life is getting better, my main goal seems to be to make it better without working for it. No, scratch that, I don’t mind working for it. My main goal seems to be to make life better without caring about it on a daily basis. I wish I could let that go. That’s not my plan for 2013 though, that would be totally contradicting myself.

That crappy album title phrase? … And then I stopped caring and moved on with my life. But that’s probably never gonna happen. So how I’ll get an album full of songs about it I don’t know… And then I cared a little less and moved on with my life. Now that’s a bit more realistic. And even worse as an album title.

All the best for 2013 :).

Everything is like a chair, everything but Facebook

Facebook is used by so many people these days, that everything it does is viewed with a certain skepticism. Is this the moment Facebook is falling down? It is not. While a vocal minority hates every new thing Facebook introduces, it needs to fail pretty big to properly fail. It’s not gonna crash and burn overnight, but that doesn’t mean everything Facebook does is right. Like scanning your private messages for links. Or releasing this ad.

In this ad, Facebook is compared to things we use everyday. Because we use Facebook everyday. It makes sense. But to me, this feels like fifteen ads in one. Because after comparing Facebook to chairs, Facebook is also compared to lots of other things and then suddenly it turns into a philosophical video that ponders why we’re using Facebook in the first place.

Facebook is like a chair. No actually a couch.

We make things. And we make Facebook to make sure we’re not alone, but instead, sitting alone typing on a computer. Is that truly the definition of not being alone? It must have changed since I last had a late night Facebook session, I felt pretty alone at some point.

And of course, you can make fun of the Chairs-analogy;

  • What do you mean? I can sit ON Facebook?
  • A chair for more people? Isn’t that a couch?
  • Oh, yes I always leave messages on my chairs.
  • Can I sit on my chair and be on Facebook at the same time? Does that mean I’m sitting on two chairs or using two Facebooks?

Nope, everything is like a chair, everything but Facebook, but that doesn’t make it a bad ad. After all, ads usually aren’t famous for their great truths but for what they make you feel, do or like. The thing is that this ad mainly confuses. It makes Facebook looks like an everyday thing, but also like something grand, like something you connect with but also like something you use for something else (as a means to an end). It tries to do so many things, that it confuses. This ad is like a website cluttered full of features and too much content on one page and some parts of it… you just don’t get.

Come to think of it… That’s just like Facebook.

But I’m not sure that was the message they wanted to get across…

TNW: We Need Smarter Push Notifications

I wrote a new blog for TheNextWeb. Click on the image to read it. Or don’t.

Push notifications are one of the key features of today’s smartphones. They constantly feed you information from a variety of services. From Twitter mentions to Facebook replies to e-mails to system notifications: they’re the daily dose for information addicts. And now they’re coming to the land of PC with Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion– which is a little worrying. While they’re designed to keep you updated and thus increase your productivity, they’re flurrying nature often does the opposite.

Read the rest >>

Blogging, again

Since 2012 I’ve started blogging again for TheNextWeb. My pieces will mostly be about social media and related topics. I do not claim I am a social media guru, but my favourite type of articles are blogs where I can either a) analyse a strategy or b) comment on how recent developments are going to influence the not-so-distant future on the Interwebs. When I do the latter, people often claim I’m wrong, but the beauty is the freedom of the Internet allows for many scenarios to be possible. I could try to be objective and say “this might happen or this might happen”, but well… That’s not going to make a good read right? So I’d rather investigate one (very) likely scenario and see how that might influence the Internet as we know it.

If that’s something you like, keep an eye on my archive here. There should be something new every week.

Why you should try Soundrop on Spotify

Spotify Apps have only been available for less than a month, but I already have a favourite app: Soundrop. Although I am a big fan of the Last.fm app and the improved Spotify Radio (having already discovered several new artists through there – although some tracks pop up there a lot for some reason), I am spending most of Spotify listening habit on Soundrop. Because I’ve been waiting for Soundrop for over a year.

At my previous job we at some point started making “radio” on Spotify. I’d create a collaborative playlist and everyone in the office would subscribe. Then, we’d all add songs we like (or we thought were annoying, to annoy the others) and listen. Because you couldn’t vote for tracks or delete them (well you could delete them but it was against my rules), all tracks would get played. It was a bit like a radio station of your combined music taste.

Soundrop is a bit like that: you have a virtual room that you can join. Then, everyone is allowed to add tracks and you listen to it all. The only difference is that Soundrop DOES have a voting system. Thus, people have to decide whether they think the track you added is good before it actually gets played. Your track may end up in the bottom of the playlist with one vote. But if other people like your suggestion, they’ll vote for it and soon, your track will pop up. You can start your own room but you can also join a room with a certain theme (like Indie Wok).

The addictive part of this is – for me at least – that you have to listen to tracks you normally wouldn’t listen to. As I write this, I’m listening to Say Hi To Your Mom with Blah Blah Blah. Say Hi To Your Mom is one of those bands that I’ve heard of, but never listened to. Now, because other people vote for them, you HAVE listen to them (unless you leave Soundrop) and you might realise that you are missing out. Can you remember those times when you heard a new song on the radio and you fell in love with it? Yea, me neither, but it’s like that. And every now and then a song pops up that you love.

So that’s why you should try Soundrop. Because it broadens your musical horizon, peppered with tracks you already love. And it’s free as long as you have Spotify.

Which you have, right?

Right?

Call for pop/alt/culture/nice bloggers

Decided: some friends and I are going to launch a new website on 1 January 2012. That gives us just over two months to prepare. But we need more bloggers. We need a WHOLE LOT of bloggers.

It has intelligent, nice people writing about things they like… Music, films, books, art, websites, tech, food, thoughts, science and all other manifestations of the human mind AND nature. If you like it and can write about it, it’s probably suitable.

We want to write about things we like and the way they’re influencing us. What makes the world this great is that people can connect to the things in it. So even though this website is going to be big, it’s going to be personal. You don’t have to positive – because even things we like can let us down. But eventually it’s about giving attention to things we like, BECAUSE we like them. How you do that, is up to you… As long as it includes original content on our website.

This website will be our little project.  Compare it to an open-air theatre. You’ll rehearse a few weeks, then you’ll manage to convince some friends to come for free on opening night. They’ll tell their friends if they like it and they will tell their friends. And the show never stops and the people who like it will keep on coming back. That’s why we need a lot of contributors who can all have their friends tell their friends. If there’s any money left at the end of the year, we’ll reward all of our loyal writers/editors.

If you like the description above, I really want you to join! Write to me via the form below. Include the following info:

  • Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
  • List all the things you like AND want to write about.
  • Give us an indication how often you’ll be able to write initially (keep in mind you need time to enjoy the things you want to write about :)).
  • If there’s an article you’re proud of (in English), please include it. If you don’t have one, feel free to write something fresh about something you really like right now.

[customcontact form=3]

Amazon starts the content war against Apple

We’re approaching the age in technology where hardware quality is becoming less important. It’s user experience that matters more and more these days. Apple has the user experience figured out – mostly – and everyone knows that. Android is still a couple of steps behind, not the least because the transition from phone OS to tablet OS has been going less than smooth.

Hardware-wise though, some Android phones and tablets can already compete with the iPad. OS-wise, Android is slowly getting there. But even if those two are up to scratch, Android still doesn’t have the powerful connection that Apple can offer thanks to the iTunes Store.

It’s as simple as this… While pirating movies, shows and music may exist for the forseeable future, this isn’t ideal for the mainstream. Not everyone feels comfortable downloading from dodgy websites and servers. Most people are willing to pay for a legal alternative, if the price is right and it’s easier to use than searching Usenet for a less legal version of the film you want to watch. This is not new information but it’s more than relevant now that Amazon is doing to more modern entertainment what it has been doing to books for the past years. Making it easier than ever to get more.

The Kindle Fire is the first Android tablet that has a strong integration with a media library comparable to that of the iPad: The Amazon Store.

That doesn’t mean that the iPad will die out in the next year. But for 200 dollar, loyal Amazon customers can buy anything in stock on Amazon via their Kindle Fire. Whether you want to watch a film via Amazon Prime (for an additional fee of 80 dollar per year) or buy a new chair: you can do so via your Kindle Fire. Happy Amazon customers that want to buy a tablet can either fork out 400 dollar for an iPad, or 200 for an Amazon tablet that allows them to use their Amazon Prime feature and get more things as you go.

Strip all those Amazon features and you’re left with a not so state of the art tablet, but that’s not the point. Even if the iPad is faster, lighter or bigger: the Amazon integration is ideal for people who don’t want to play by Apple’s rules. The Kindle Prime is redefining the tablet for its own purposes. The tablet according to Amazon is not just a general entertainment device, it’s a cleverly branded entertainment device. And yes, some other tablets may offer movie rentals (like HTC’s tablets), but they don’t have Amazon’s brand recognition or catalogue size.

If tablets are destined to go truly mainstream, they need to offer features that are wanted by the mainstream in a way the mainstream can easily understand. Apple has always understood that with the iPad. Compare it with a car… Some people get excited about the engine, the price tag and the colour, but most people just want to be assured it works and will get them from A to B, even if B is only reachable via Mountain C, frosty road D and traffic jam E. They don’t care about horse power, as long as they’re not being screwed by their car dealer.

Amazon understands this too. Amazon is not selling the Kindle Fire based on its amazing hardware (*the hardware is not that amazing, really, but it’s good enough to do what it’s supposed to do). Amazon is selling their Kindle Fire based on what you can do with it. Thus, the content war has begun. If this model works – and the previous Kindles have proven it does – other manufacturers will need to start making deals with content providers… So Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Google…  Who else is going to enter the war zone?

New domain, new start

I’ve had this domain for the past year or so… So far it linked to THIS Flavors.me-page, which provided a nice stylish overview of my web activities. I’ve also been blogging in English the past years. Those blogs were about my life and my attempts to write songs on my guitar. While I haven’t given up on the rock ‘n roll dream the “Nobody Knows Stefan”-identity of my blog didn’t really suit the blogs anymore. I mainly blogged about my articles for other websites and life as a young tech journalist… There’s nothing “Nobody Knows” about that. Thus, this new blog.

Of course, I can promise that I will write every day, or even every week… I won’t though, so I won’t promise it. I’ve got a pretty busy schedule with a full-time job, PLUS writing articles every week for several blogs. I will, however, link to the articles I write elsewhere (the English ones, at least) and post videos, music and links I like. Currently, I’m mainly writing about technology, so expect some opinions about that here as well. In addition, I hope to write longer updates once a month or so. So feel free to look forward to that.

Finally, if you have any questions, feel free to send me an e-mail via the Contact Page. I am always interested in your opinions. If you want me to write something for you. Get in touch too. I would love to hear from you!