Scaling Down – One Year On…

Exactly one year ago I wrote about scaling down the number of apps/tools I wanted to use (link). I came up with this list:
  • Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn
  • News Aggregators: Flipboard, Zite
  • Blogging Platform: WordPress
  • Cloud Storage/Note-taking: Dropbox, Evernote
As this is a constant work in progress, I wanted to take the time to give you an update and the benefits and struggles I’ve encountered…
Today my list is as follow:
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram
  • News Aggregators: Flipboard, Pinterest
  • Blogging Platform:
  • Cloud Storage/Note-taking: Dropbox, Evernote
  • Journaling: Day One
What has happened?
Facebook is back on the list and Instagram joined as well. As I described last time, I tried to drop FB because I didn’t use the service that much and strived for one platform. In reality this proved difficult, because of certain links I didn’t want to lose, but also didn’t exist on other platforms. Second, I found that working with one platform for all my communications and social links, proved counter-productive. Why? One word: context! Let me explain by describing how I use the different platforms today. Twitter still is my primary social medium, and probably will be for a long time. I like the way information keeps finding me (instead of the other way around) and how convenient it is to use. I still have a BIG problem with Twitter still not showing all the search results when looking for a certain hashtag for instance. I use it primarily for my professional relations. Everything concerning education and technology will probably be in my Twitter-account.
Facebook re-joined the club because now this is the place for my “personal” relations. I connect to friends and family that primarily have a non-professional link to me. People whom I like to connect with on a personal, casual level.
Off course there is some overlap. I follow a number of musicians on Twitter as well. Just like I also created a couple of FB-groups to connect with my students and co-workers. The goal is to get things done, regardless of the platform I’m using, so sometimes exceptions must be made.
Instagram joined the club because I really wanted a place to post my photos. I didn’t want a huge library like Flickr, but looked for an easy way to share my love for photography. I decided to create a closed account, so I have total control over who gets to see my images, and who doesn’t. Again, the primary reason is that I’m looking for more personal connections here.
Pinterest comes and goes, but is here to stay for a while now. I used the service a couple of times, especially in the classroom, but always quit my personal boards. Today, taking on a more casual approach, I use it to share information with my students through one board and use the others just to gather information for personal temporary project/interests.
WordPress has lost its battle. I’ve been using the blogging-platform for some time now. I even hosted my own site for a while, but a number of glitches made me switch to a more simpler way of sharing information. I have decided to go all-in with This service has a lot of potential if you’re an Evernote-user like me. It’s so easy to be able to blog from the same place that I primarily use to work. Although not without its flaws (there are some syncing issues once and a while), I like the simplicity and the straightforwardness of it. I must admit I have looked for alternatives like Medium and SquareSpace as well and while they have a certain appeal, I decided that a smooth workflow would be better for my needs.
Although Evernote would be perfect for my journalling needs, I opted for another app called One Day. This gorgeous app is so easy to use on my iPhone and provides me with a separate space for my innermost thoughts that I gave up using Evernote for this specific task. It is like entering a quiet place to reflect on the day and just write about whatever I want. Evernote has a different vibe…
My Google and Microsoft accounts are forever out the window. Not because they are bad services but just because we live in a platform-based world nowadays. I am completely immersed in an Apple environment (Mac, iPad, iPhone), which offers me a lot of tools and services to communicate, collect, create and share information and most of all automatically sync’s all this data on all my devices seamlessly. Working with multiple platforms at a time, cripples this workflow.
Platforms vs services
Where you used to choose for app A, B and C, people (like me) tend to base these choices on the platform they are on, which is normal and perfectly okay. I just wish that the different platforms were more compatible. I’m well aware that I’m shooting for the moon right now, but wouldn’t it be great if I could start a document in Pages on my iPhone, share it with my students who edit it in Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive? Luckily there are different ways of sharing documents with people outside of the service but to enable a good workflow you should be able to import any document into any service. It’s just like email. In the early days you could only send an email to people off the same provider (ex. AOL to AOL). Now, we can communicate with everybody, without the need for multiple accounts. This shift from closed platforms to open protocols should happen on a wider scale. I know this is not going to happen any time soon, but I would love to see services evolve towards this kind of utopia.
Feel free to share your experiences!

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