My Favourite Applications

I was asked yesterday to do some guest lectures on the influence and future of web technologies to Digital Media, Education and Creative Arts university students. In some ways I  find that a bit daunting because they will have grown up with the web. It got me thinking about what to talk about and I guess a perspective from an old fogey who has lived through the changes is worthwhile. One of the things I get asked a lot after keynotes and workshops is what applications do I use and why?  I am getting a new laptop delivered today (maybe my last one ever because of tablet developments) and it got me focused on what were the first applications I would load on to it to get me going and to coordinate with my other devices and work colleagues. So here are my top web based cross platform technologies (after of course basics like a Chrome Web Browser)- in order of importance.

1/ Evernote

If I had to pick one application it would be Evernote as it has become the core of what I do.

We use it to store all of our environmental scanning material which then feeds into client work, keynote presentation preparation. For example we generally have a 3-6 month lead time for presentations so on top of our core scanning notebook I collect  cross links to the notes in our system under specific presentation titles to go back to once we start to put together a narrative

I use it to track project notes because I can record it on my desktop, my iPad and my android phone.

I use it for check-lists for travel for the same reason

The web clipper allows me to clip interesting articles and reports for about 30 minutes in the morning which then syncs effortlessly so I can read them on my iPad when travelling

I photograph workshop worksheets and maps and share those with clients afterwards.

The system allows export of all the data so we can keep offline back ups and get our stuff out any time that we want to.

Bets of all it is free although we pay for the premium version


I pray every day that they stay as a stand alone business and do not get taken over by Microsoft especially.

2/ Drop Box

For those not familiar with it Drop Box allows you to place a folder on your hard drive and anything that is saved in there is synchronised to the cloud and then synchronised to any device you have the application loaded on to.

I use drop box to:

Share a folder with my farm manager so I can see his reports and back up database files any time that I want to from wherever I am

Share a folder with Kim our office manager so I can see all our scanned documents (which is most things) at any time

Keep all the images that we use for presentations so I can access them from any device for preparation.

Save a copy of keynotes before I travel to present (I am paranoid about not having a presentation work so I save one on the hard drive, one on a USB stick, a separate portable version on a different USB stick which I put in a separate bag, upload one to Prezi (see below), and download one from Prezi to my iPad)

Share client documents for workshops and project work


3/ Kindle 

I no longer buy any non fiction books it printed version (I still like a printed book for fiction reading in bed and on planes and one of the people that prompted this post told me the other day he buys eBooks and prints them!!!)

The convenience of being able to carry so many books with me that I have notes in and being able to access that on desktop, iPad and smartphone is fantastic for me ( I mainly use the iPad). The convenience of having a book delivered to me 1 minute after making a  decision to buy it, and to have access to a much wider range of publications than I ever could locally is great.


4/ ABC iView

This is more an entertainment one and local to Australia than a work one but we use it a lot. I rarely watch TV when it is on these days, preferring to time shift my viewing habits. iView works seamlessly and we use it a lot on the iPad either stand alone or plugged into the TV. It allows you to create a watch list and to watch programs and remembers where you were if you only watch part of a show. That is useful because I am often up well before Jo and Miles and watch a bit on my iPad while having breakfast.Image

5/ TweetDeck

I use TweetDeck more on my computer than I do on my iPad because I am not that keen on the iPad app and find it hard to integrate my overall workflow with it on the iPad.

I use Tweetdeck to organise my Twitter stuff and have several columns set up inside it than I find useful:

A Follow column which is for all the people I follow. This is too large a group to look at all the time but I try and dip into “the stream” 2-3 times a day for serendipity.

A mentions column to track where I am being mentioned and re-tweeted

A direct message column which is set up with a pop up notice so I can respond to people

A “my perspectives list” which is a core group of people I follow assiduously on a daily basis for scanning and information purposes If you want to see this – it is a public list at!/futuristpaul/my-perspectives-list)

A scheduled updates list because we tend to queue tweets to get a spread over different parts of peopel’s day in different parts of the world and to manage workflow on our side.


6/ Skype

Which we use all the time for internal communication and for travel, both on the laptop and on the iPadImage

7/ Prezi and Prezi Viewer

We use Prezi for all our presentations and I love using the Prezi Viewer application on my iPad because I present without notes and like to do multiple run through and rehearse presentations. Having it in a format the looks just like my presentation on my iPad allows me to rehearse multiple times on planes and taxis and hotel rooms and get the flow down pat. I usually give it one more run through just before going on.Image

8/ Carbonite

Carbonite is an on-line back up system. Like most people I am variable when it comes to making back ups and also wanted an offsite solution so that if we had a fire or a burglary we would be able to recover all our important data. It is a set and forget system that works in the background and backs up all the files that you designate and can be accessed from other devices. Image

9/ Got to Meeting

We use Go to meeting all the time for on-line internal collaboration meetings, for practice run through of presentations and for draft presentation checks with clients that want them prior to workshops or keynotes


So there you go and it certainly demonstrates how integrated web services are to how we work these days.

I would be interested in any suggestions from others on their favourite applications that I should try.

Paul Higgins

Car Sharing about to Explode?


I wrote a post back in May on

The Mental Shift in the Collaboration Economy and Why it Matters to Everyone

The post is about how collaboration and sharing is taking off and specifically mentioned car sharing as a key example.

On Tuesday GigaOm had a notice up that GM was partnering with Relay Rides to allow users of OnStar to rent their cars out via a mobile app:

GM opens up OnStar with peer-to-peer car sharing service

This is the implementation of an announcement from back in October.

This is a big deal because it is about building services on top of existing installed technologies rather than people having to pay for new technologies.

It is also a big deal because OnStar has an installed user base of 6 million people which immediately gives the idea scale.

Our cars are one of our most expensive capital and operating budget items. In a time of financial uncertainty and risk a method which safely allows us to offset that cost by lending our car to a trusted social network may take off in a big way.

If that is the case then car makers better look out because they can throw out all their projections on future car sales.

The Mental Shift in the Collaboration Economy and Why it Matters to Everyone

I am a strong believer in the increasing strength of the collaboration economy where we share things and resources rather than own them or use commercial options.

On a personal basis we no longer have a second car. I use Flexicar here in Australia to get a car when I need it. This reduces our costs of car ownership, reduces the resources we use, and reduces the parking pressure on crowded streets in our neighbourhood. In addition I have used airbnnb quite a bit for travel, staying in other people’s homes and apartments at a lower cost but also for an improved experience.

There are two points that are interesting to me about how this might change the nature of how we make decisions and act together.

The first is that in the car sharing example it changes the decision point on costs. You no longer have the big decision to make on a major capital expenditure, but the main thing is that the cost gets transferred from a distant, annualised cost and is applied to the decision to do something at the time of making it. For example I am doing gym rehab for a broken leg and dislocated ankle that I suffered last year by being hit by a car while triathlon training. Previously I went to a YMCA gym around the corner but as that is closed for refurbishment I have to drive to another YMCA gym. Our first car is mostly unavailable during the week as my partner has to use it to get to work. Therefore every time I go to the gym in the share car it costs me $19.90 including petrol. Whilst previously I would just jump in the car and go, now I think about the cost every time I make a decision to go or not. Previously I was happy to have the second car sitting around most of the time at a cost of about $200 a week. Now I baulk at spending 10% of that to go to the gym. I still go because it is important to my health but moving the cost to the point of making that decision really makes me think about the value. The arrangement has certainly got me walking, cycling, and using public transport more which is a great thing.

The reason I am writing this post is that it got me thinking about the nature of decision making and value. If the collaboration economy grows it means more and more decisions are made at the point where we decide if they are valuable or not. That combined with increasing transparency and social media recommendation systems mean real value becomes even more important.

The second aspect of the collaboration economy is a longer term one. Systems like GetAround which supply technology for your car so you can rent it out to your social network are building user groups based on social interactions. As numbers grow these groups are going to become more powerful in our economy and move beyond just car sharing. They will put relentless pressure on prices for all sorts of things including tyres, petrol and insurance. Beyond that why will they stop at motor vehicle related products? For instance they provide a massive group that can decide to support a charity and make a huge difference to the mission of that charity. Due to their social nature they are likely to vote on what to support so true value and results will become far more important in the not for profit sector. I see these sorts of groups as the next generation beyond the current group buying sites like Living Social and Groupon. The key differences will be that they will be driven by the user base and their social nature rather than the core company. Therefore value and purpose will be more important to them. This will be a fundamental shift.

I would be interested in what people think. Meanwhile I am off to rehab in my share car

Paul Higgins