Industry tech guru Jim Spellos most recently spoke at SITE’s Global Conference in Vancouver. Here, he shares some thoughts on following the latest technology.
The single most frequent question I’m asked is some variant of “How do you keep up with all the technology that’s out there?” The honest answer to that question is that nobody can keep up with it all. It’s changing and advancing at far too fast a pace for anyone to truly keep up. These are truly incredible times to live in for many reasons, but especially for the pace of change that is being thrown at us. In a “people-first” business such as the hospitality industry, it can seem even more daunting to try to figure out how to keep up.
Fortunately, the same tools that are advancing at breakneck speed are providing ways to keep us informed. It’ll take a little patience to get started, and a small time commitment (how about 15 minutes a day?) is required, but if you really want to keep up with the tech, it’s (as much as humanly possible), it can be done.
So here are my go-to digital tools to do so.
Nobody has time to search out large swaths of information, especially when it falls into the “you don’t know what you don’t know” category. So why not allow the technology to do the heavy lifting for you? News apps provide that functionality. My go-to aggregator is the Flipboard app (free). By default, it offers endless articles on various topics, but the magic is in the back end artificial intelligence that takes your preferred content (either by identifying topics of interest or just liking articles) and customizing topical news feeds that allow you to quickly skim (or take time to deep dive) into information you need to know now.
For me, my content is focused on tech topics, so I have setup various “magazines” within Flipboard to cover what I need to find – from AI to AR to VR and almost anything else tech. Bonus tool – Flipboard also allows you to create your own magazines from your favorite content by a single tap. Sharable with colleagues and constituents, it’s an information game changer. Did I mention that it’s free? (oh yeah, I did).
While we could talk about many others in this aggregator category, let’s be sure to understand that a simple option is right at your search fingertips. By downloading the Google app (and not just using your browser to search), you get a built-in AI news feed that will adapt to the articles that you read as your browse. Some folks may think this info is part of the way creepiness of Google’s reach, and you might not be wrong, however, I look at the value proposition of using tools like that effectively.
Since I use aggregators like Flipboard so well, I don’t always go straight to specific sites for my tech info. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a list of sites that if I need to find out some good technology news, I have in my back pocket (which, of course, is where many folks keep their phones, so it is an appropriate analogy). Here are a few in various categories of tech
Long Reads – MIT Technology Review.
Virtual Reality – Road to VR.
I’m not as big a fan of them as many folks are (if I’m listening to something, it’s likely to be music), but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few faves. These include The AR Show (about augmented reality), Reply All (all about the Internet…it’s pretty smart), Tech News Briefing (from the Wall Street Journal), and Down the Security Rabbit Hole (about digital security and privacy). BTW, my podcast player of choice is Stitcher.
Want to simplify all this? Go to Twitter, find these various sources I’ve mentioned, and put them in a single list (check Google as to how to create and manage Lists if you’re not sure). Once you have a few good lists, use a social aggregator such as HootSuite to follow them all on one screen/page (depending on your device du jour). All the tech you need on a single screen. Way cool.
There are so many good folks to follow across various social platforms and websites, but in trying to keep this article readable in one sitting, you should definitely follow Corbin Ball (@corbinball, www.corbinball.com) and Julius Solaris (@tojulius, www.juliussolaris.com). Corbin’s great comprehensive list of tech tools for the meetings industry on his website is clearly best of breed in my book. Just listing these two folks isn’t doing justice to all of the other great professionals in our industry that are sharing the way cool tech content. But I would be remiss to not mention our industry’s great podcast #EventIcons.
Oh, can I mention that I curate lots of tech content through my social media pages, as well as my subscription Patreon (www.patreon.com/jspellos) community? I’m so glad you asked!
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll have more information than hours in the day. But reading it all isn’t what’s it’s all about. It’s about taking it in at your pace and having tools to do targeted searches when you need to. And by using the aggregation tools such as Flipboard and HootSuite, you can have two mobile tools that brings you all the news that’s fit to… (wait, another newspaper uses that line).
Spellos is the President of Meeting U., whose mission is to help people become more productive and comfortable with technology.
Jim delivers over 100 seminars & presentations annually. In 2015, Jim was named one of the Meeting Industry’s trendsetters by Meetings Today magazine. He was a faculty member at New York University for 25 years receiving both their Award for Teaching Excellence and their Outstanding Service Award.
In 2014, Jim joined the Board of Directors for Rock and Wrap It Up, an anti-poverty, anti-hunger organization which recovers excess food from events. Jim co-created their Whole Earth Calculator app. He also speaks about food recovery and sustainability in the industry. In 2018 & 2019, BizBash named Jim one of their top 500 people in events for his work in sustainability. Jim is an accomplished musician and songwriter who released his first solo album, Stroke of Genius in 2020.