2020 Delightful Tech

December 30, 2020

I don’t often make recommendations for apps or services. It’s rare that technology fills me with delight to such an extend that I have the urge to recommend it to others. I’m all too aware that your needs may be different from mine.

For example, I love my 2015 MacBook but I’ve never been able to recommend it to anyone. It’s slow, has one port, and was expensive. It has been an absolute delight for me and remains the best laptop I’ve ever owned. But that doesn’t make it right for you. So much so, that Apple no longer offers it for sale.

I mention this because, as I look back at the technology I’ve used in 2020, there hasn’t been much to shout about. Everyone has faced challenges and technology has been more of a necessity than a hobby. Yet, two services have stood out, challenging the way I want to think about the year ahead. Both have brought me delight on more than one occasion.

Donut Intros

My first recommendation goes to Donut Intros. Donut is a Slack bot that facilitates introductions between members of a channel.

“Introduce teammates right in Slack for a variety of programs that build camaraderie, collaboration, and community.”

My Donut introductions have typically resulted in 30 minute Zoom meetings. Most have been agenda-less video meetings. I’ve discussed technical topics, career frustrations, the challenges of parenthood in a pandemic. I’ve even played chess (and lost). The last thing anyone needs in 2021 is more Zoom meetings. But, I can say with certainty that these have been the most delightful meetings I’ve had.

Delightful: Donut is the first Slack bot that I’d describe as delightful. By focussing on the little details such as the delegation of a meeting organiser, Donut does what it needs to and gets out of your way.

Would like to see: Support for trying to arrange introductions that span timezones. I’m forever trying to navigate the timezone challenge.

Readwise

I’m not sure how I came across Readwise. And, for the first few days after I signed up I wasn’t too sure how I was meant to use it. Now, one month in, I’m hooked.

“Readwise makes it easy to revisit and learn from your ebook & article highlights.”

Occasionally, I’ll highlight a passage in a book I’m reading. I used to do this to give myself an easy way to copy and paste snippets out of Kindle books. But in reality, these highlights were never used. Readwise changes this. Once configured, it presents you a daily selection of highlights to review. Think flashcards, but for book highlights.

Unlike traditional flashcards, I’m not using Readwise to memorise my highlights. Reviewing them surfaces ideas, thoughts and questions I had whilst reading. The impact of the book lives long after I’ve turned the final page. Reviewing these highlights has had a direct impact in what I decide to read next.

Delightful: The simplicity of the service is its beauty. I continue to read books as I have been and Readwise surfaces highlights in a clear, easy to read email. A month in and I’m forming stronger opinions about what I want to read next.

Would like to see: More reading platforms providing first class integration with Readwise.