It’s a season of giving thanks, and as I first did a few years ago, I’m looking around at my digital life for a few things to be thankful for in 2022. It’s been a tumultuous year in technology and culture (but then again, when was the last time it wasn’t?), but in the midst of all of that I’m grateful for these little bits of creativity and innovation.
This app probably deserves a post of its own, but I have benefited more from Lunchclub over the past year than probably any other product. The idea is simple: videochat blind dating for networking. I sign up for a couple meeting slots a week, and the algorithm matches me with people to have a 1:1 meeting with. All told, I have probably had close to 80-90 meetings since really getting going about a year ago, and all but an exceedingly small handful have been great. Some matches have even turned out so good that they’ve become clients and IRL friends. If there is one thing you do from a professional networking standpoint in the new year, make it this.
Two things have felt the most empowering for me over the last few years: Ebikes feel like a cheat code for getting around the physical world. And Webflow feels like the thing I’ve always wanted in terms of creating for the virtual world.
Webflow is what I wished Macromedia Dreamweaver was two decades ago. It’s a no-code website builder that actually equips you with the full power of HTML and CSS, but with a visual interface that feels a lot like working in Photoshop or InDesign. I built this site in Webflow, and I’ve helped clients bring their ideas to market with it too in a way that is 10X faster that what we used to do in my agency. It isn’t for everything, but it’s still a magic wand for creatives.
If Webflow is on one end of the no-code spectrum, Carrd is on the other. Whereas the former gives you unlimited flexibility and power, Carrd gives you stupid-simple templates and can’t-mess-up tools for getting something out on the web. You can get a serviceable landing page up for an idea in just a few minutes, and you’ll still be proud enough to share it with the world.
The killer feature of this app might be the price: for just $19 a year (yes, a year), you can get access to the whole thing. It’s a small enough investment that you can justify putting pages up for all sorts of things: birthday parties, half-baked startup ideas, travel recommendations, and anything else that you want to have a home.
Like many, I’ve been trying to cut down on the junk food in my media diet – especially with all the drama going on at Twitter. One thing that helps is keeping the Kindle app in a place of prominence on my phone’s home screen. Every time I reach for a dopamine hit to fill those little moments of crumb time, I now have to at least consider hopping into a book instead of a social feed. Does it win all the time? Not even close. Does it win sometime? Yes.
Pair this with Libby for free ebooks from your local library and you’ve got powerful combination. Some people chaff at reading a book on their phone – but I’ve found that keeping a separate, lighter, “phone book” in addition to whatever I’m reading in print is the best combo.
Even though every photo on my phone prior to 2011 has seemingly disappeared into the ether, there are still more than 26,000 photos on there from the past eleven years. The little montages generated by iOS when I swipe over to my widgets or tab into the “For You” page in Photos bring selected bits from that deluge of imagery back to the front of my mind, often giving me a smile in the process. I get highlights of vacations I’ve been on, food I’ve eaten, concerts I’ve been to, and people I love. In a tech environment where more and more things are frustrating and deleterious, this thing is simply delightful.
This one is a bit niche, but it’s top of mind as we’re putting together our upcoming Queens Tech Night for this fall. Eventbrite just knows what they are doing when it comes to managing events, and the organizer app is so, so helpful in that toolkit. It’s easy to add users with granular permissions to check-in guests, and the UX for doing check-in is clear and intuitive.
Watching Top Gun: Maverick with some buddies this summer was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in years. I raved about it so much in the days that followed that my wife wanted to see it too, and as we were buying tickets we decided to sign-up for AMC’s A-List and make it the first movie of our all-you-can-watch movie subscription. Great move.
It’s a few dollars more expensive than MoviePass was in its brief, fleeting, golden age – but it’s basically the same thing. Having a theater membership changes the way you look at movies in the best way possible. Now, when you have a few hours to kill while out and about, you can pop into a nearby location to catch something. You feel free to branch out watch things you might not choose to pay for independently, like documentaries and foreign-language films. And most of all, you get to appreciate films on the screens they were meant for, without the distraction of your phone or laptop calling for you in the corner of your eye.
Oh, and I guess I’m also thankful for my turkey fryer, which has gifted me and my loved ones the most delicious bird I’ve ever had. Happy Thanksgiving all!