A few things I need to tell you about

A couple of years ago, maybe 18 months ago, I started using Tabbloid. Tabbloid is an HP-originated project that takes-in RSS feeds of blogs and other news-like content that interests you and, each day, outputs a PDF of that day’s posts. This PDF becomes your daily personal newspaper (an example of a Tabbloid PDF).

It isn’t that novel an idea now, a host of other sites do a similar thing. I make no assertion that this is the best, only that it suits me down to the ground. I am a frenetic gobbler of content. I save tens of articles a day into my Instapaper iPhone app and rarely read them (partly because I forget to synch before I find myself offline). I read and equally large number of posts daily when I stumble across them, follow a tweeted link or email. But what suits me best is the slow absorbption of content when I am offline. On the Tube. No connection, just a PDF in my hand with lots of stories about tech, cycling, gardening, architecture, behavioural psychology, satire…

So, what I tend to do is take a sharpie and mark-up articles I am going to explore further when I get back online. What actually happens is that I end up with bundles of 15-page duplex-prionted PDFs in my laptop bag and only a  handful get further exploration and even less get broadcast to my friends and colleagues.

Today I thought I might have a quick blitz and share some things I read last week in my Tabbloids:

1. A bit about how Wal-Mart’s CEO clears his inbox every day. This post from Good Experience resonnated with me as I recall the days of long commutes from Chelmsford to Norwich with a work laptop, clearing correspondence religiously at the start and end of each day.

2. The (harsh) reality of Nokia’s acquisition of Dopplr was explored by The Guardian and Signal vs. Noise took up the story and opined about the consequences of similar acquisitions. As a long-term Dopplr fan (a consequence of their tone of voice and functionality), it made for honest and sober reflection on the commercial realities of such deals.

3. PSFK‘s machine gun of inspiration regularly lands a direct hit and last week myself and a colleague both picked up on the behavioural psychology at work in the role of using kindness to punish Danish bike owners violating cycle parking arrangements in Copenhagen. The authorities treat each violator to a full bike service before leaving a message about their violation. Max from Dare suggested that the violators’ subsequent good behaviour might be due to a sense of reciprocity in his post to our clients. I wonder whether the lack of repeat offense (given that such a positive punishment would seem to reward bad behaviour) may be due to an implied belief that the first action was a warning and future violations would actually incur a genuine negative action from the authorities.

4. Late to the party as I don’t track his blog that intently, but as a fan of “Everything Bad Is Good For You“, I was struck by Steven B. Johnson’s forthcoming book when I heard about it this week. His blog post describes the content of the book, called “Where Good Ideas Come From” which is due out (hardcover) in early October.

> Super interested readers can explore my thoughts on “Everything Bad Is Good For You” in a post from June 2005

5. Cycling afficionados may like this post from Cycle EXIF showcasing Pedro Jeronimo’s Slütter. Featuring a belt-drive and some of the most refined titanium metalwork I have ever seen, it is wonderfully different to the derivative hipster fixie in the urban bike category.

6. Hopping about a bit now, this one is an information graphics one. For fans of old-school information design, take a look at Harold Fisk’s hand-drawn map of the Mississippi River in 1944 which illustrated the history of the channel the river took. Beautiful and intricate, if not altogether immediately accessible as an illustrative device.  My thanks to Flowing Data for the spot.

7. Having read Matt Rendell’s wonderful “The Death of Marco Pantani” last year, I was familiar with a few of the pictures posted over at Simon Lamb’s passionately-written La Gazzetta Della Bici. The other pictures he posted were a captivating exploration of the numerous highs and the ultimate low of the tragic death of Il Pirata.

8. Another quick flip over to Flowing Data where their short piece on Harry Kao’s commuter map left me thinking that Mapumental had done a much better job of this data by combining it with house prices in the UK.

I think I will save up a few more of these and share from time to time. If only to identify a few of the great writers and destinations I visit daily on the web that inspire me in work and play.

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