MY Top Ten invites media practitioners to identify their top ten websites, apps, software tools and gadgets, etc, and here it is the turn of Professor Andy Miah, director of the Creative Futures Institute at the University of the West of Scotland. Prof. Miah has been researching the internet since the early days and most recently has been working on social media, wearable technologies, and citizen journalism.
He says: “I am always looking for the next piece of software that is going to change everything, which is no easy task. So my top ten is full of platforms I have recently started using, which I think will change what you can do with your devices. It combines apps, websites, and software that gets stuff done, but my rule for selection is that I have only started using them in the last 12 months.”
1. Twitonomy – website – This website offers a stripped-down listening service to capture twitter data. It has a free service for monitoring your account, but also a premium service for capturing searches. As the Twitter API only allows limited use of data without paying big bucks, this platform captures the last 3,000 tweets so is best used in real time, intermittently, if you are trying to analyse a phenomenon in a more rigorous way. That may sound like a pain, but I believe a little immersion during research is no bad thing, so it is worth paying the $20 for the premium account.
2. Directr – app – Awesome filmmaking app; it let’s you storyboard movies with minimal prior expertise in real filmmaking. This takes you one or two steps beyond iMovie or any other film making app and helps you understand a few principles of filmmaking. It made me think that the next thing will be ‘director skins’, where you can make a film in the style of your favourite director. Really makes you think about how the creative process is being relocated. Discuss.
3. If this then that – software tool – Permanently wipe out the infinite loop of social media content generation with this simple recipe app. You can tell all your social media to point in a specific direction, automating your aggregation and simplifying all your social identities. A must-have for those of us who want everything everywhere.
4. Camera+ – app – If you really like photography, then it’s worth paying a few quid for a decent photo editing app. This one is a bit different with some nice filters and other tweaking facilities. It’s my favourite so far, but I expect there are others out there. Actually, a buddy of mine just started using Generate. That’s a creative one too.
5. About.me – website – Lately, the social integration of about.me has really captured my imagination. I feel like it is delivering more meaningful connections from bright people doing interesting things. If you don’t have a website and can’t design one, then this is for you. The social side is a bonus but I suspect that feature is becoming core and a USP, as other social websites like it develop. It has a slightly annoying additional pay function but you don’t really need it.
6. Simply News – app – Who has time to read newspapers today? Ok, you might read one a day, if you are really good; or you might read them on your mobile. Well, this lovely little app allows you to get a sense of everything that is going on.
7. App of the Day – app – The way we search for content is flawed. Everything we find is always prescribed by what we think is worth looking for, so this app takes you to the stuff you probably wouldn’t look for and that’s why I love it. Every day you can discover a new app for free that will fulfil needs you didn’t know you had.
8. Google Drive – software tool – We are amidst a battle of the clouds. In the past, we couldn’t be bothered to back up our stuff nearly enough. Now, with multiple devices and more to come with the Internet of Things, it’s going to get ten times worse. So we have to get cloud-savvy. Google drive suits me because I work often with office-based software which doesn’t use a lot of space. I think Google’s live editing is second to none and is the only way I want to collaborate on documents in real time. It’s not perfect but it’s close and has some excellent ‘add-ons’ which are really worth exploring from within the platform, such as automated bibliographies and translate function.
9. Runtastic – app – Ironically, I don’t use this for running. I prefer the Nike app, but Runtastic has a suite of exercise apps that allows you to use your device to track achievements. If you haven’t yet taken a step in the direction of wearable technology, this is a nice glimpse into the future, but, be warned, I recently acquired a FitBit, which is turning me into a biometric, self-surveillant addict (not really).
10. Tout – software tool – I started using Tout in 2013 and it fulfils my micro video blogging needs. With 15 seconds, it’s a bit more suitable for me than Vine’s 6 and I was taken particularly with how pro journalists were using it. It has a nice way of automatically connecting up individual clips too, which allows you to make a long film chopped into pieces.