Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Managing my digital life, a continuing series

Some more observations on managing my digital life, focussing on entertainment content and on how I'm thinking of using social media in an upcoming class. I'll let revealed preference speak for itself:


Kindle books I have bought recently: Brian Arthur "The Nature of Technology," which I first got as an Audible book. John Derbyshire "We are Doomed," which is how I feel. Dominick Dunne "Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishments." Dalton Fury "Kill Bin Laden," written under pseudonym by the commanding officer of the Delta Force team who went after UBL in Afghanistan. I also downloaded several free books, both ones in the public domain and some that amazon is offering for free as promotion for the Kindle platform. I'm counting on a Kindle App for the Mac soon.

Audible books I have bought recently: Matthew Crawford "Shop Class as Soulcraft." Brian Arthur "The Nature of Technology," yes, both audio and ebook. Levitt and Dubner's "Superfreakonomics." Joshua Cooper Ramo "The Age of the Unthinkable." Niall Ferguson "The ascent of Money," which I already own on dead tree. PJ O'Rourke "Driving Like Crazy," aka the case against letting PJ drive. Stephen Fry "Fry's English Delight."  Ross King "The judgment of Paris." I got two free books, one a gift from Audible to its members, Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," performed by Tim Curry, another a gift from Leo Laporte's podcast This Week In Tech, Larry Niven's "Ringworld," using the URL audible.com/twitfree. (Of course I have read it! But now I can listen to it.)

Books on dead tree I have bought recently: Avinash Kaushik's "Web Analytics 2.0," on paper because I want to write notes on it. Alas, the paper has a lot of bleed-through with liquid ink pens! Had to fill it with free-standing inserts and post-it notes.

Music I have bought recently: Jacques Loussier "Play Bach: 50th Year Anniversary recording," from Amazon MP3. The latest recording of Mahler's 8th Symphony by the San Francisco Symphony, with supplemental materials, from the iTunes Store. I have about 1TB of music mostly from my collection of over three thousand CDs (80% "Classical" and 18% Jazz); there's little incentive for me to buy new music.

TV Shows I have bought recently: House episode "Ignorance is Bliss," from iTunes, in HD. I'm not a complete hermit, though: I watched some episodes of other programs on Hulu and some movies on Netflix. Some even on TV!

DVDs, CDs, Magazines, Newspapers I have bought recently: (no entries found).


A school I have had a long-term relationship with asked me to teach a class there next summer. There's a lot of things to do before the class begins, which I'll start doing once the class is confirmed and I have an estimate of the enrollment.  I will also use some social media tools, so I had to create two placeholders:

First, I set up a blog for the class and reserved the Blogspot domain for it. Yes, I use Blogger and Blogspot. Cheap I am. This will be a blog about and around the topics of the class, not the class materials repository. For that the school has a very good content management system.

I'll probably post minor things to the class blog: observations about business topics related to the class, interesting or idiotic things other people write about the topic (with my enlightening comments), links to things referenced in the class, credits for materials used from online sources like Flickr and YouTube, and a list of music I play in class. Unlike my personal blog, the class blog will allow comments (by students).

Major things like supplemental handouts, solutions to class exercises, data and computational examples, rants about the improper use of "exponential" to mean "convex," and such are posted to the class repository in the official content management system. By school policy students are expected to check that repository, whereas reading the blog is optional.

Second, I set up a Twitter feed for micro-blogging specific to the class. This is where I'll tweet things like Today's @WSJ discusses the company in the case we're discussing next week: [link] and other minor observations.  Aside: I use Brizzly to manage Twitter feeds; a tip of the hat to Michael Driscoll at Dataspora for bringing it to my attention.

I considered setting up a class forum. But decided against it, since most students will be part-time MBAs and a forum might create the impression that I expect them to participate assiduously. I was once one of them and I know that time for the MBA is a limited resource, purchased with sacrifice; wasting it is disrespectful!

One important observation here, since I have written a 3500-word post on how I prepare presentations: teaching a class and making a presentation require very different skills. I seldom present anything in a class: there are case discussions, class exercises, Socratic give-and-take, and few lecturettes. Other than "define clear objectives; prepare, prepare, prepare; and then prepare some more," there is little advice on the presentation post that would bear on how I teach.


My use of Facebook is still limited to keeping a placeholder: if at some point in the future I find value in telling a limited number of people things that I can tell a broader audience using a blog and a twitter feed, maybe I'll move something to Facebook.