Very quickly, Jodi’s @legalnomads Twitter handle became familiar to me as she happily sent out Summify referrals into the Twitterverse and asked us questions about our latest updates. I had to know more about her. After seeing a recent tweet about her podcast interview on Suitcase Entrepreneur, I took a listen. It turns out she’s a rather interesting former lawyer gone world traveler who shares my love for SE Asia, and that right there is what our new Summify Spotlight series is all about – exposing new sources and encouraging new connections by shining the light on the wonderfully different and fascinating Summifyers in our community.
About Jodi: After working as a lawyer for five years to save up money for travel, she quit her job and bought a one-way ticket to Chile. Over three years later, she has traipsed through South America, Siberia, Mongolia, China and a good swath of Southeast Asia, with no plans to stop anytime soon. Throughout, Jodi has blogged about her misadventures on local transportation, her obsessive love of street food and the politics of the places she visits. She currently works as a freelance writer and photographer (while trying to eat as much sticky rice as possible).
Enter Jodi Ettenberg
How do you like to consume your news?
As social media and travel become more tightly intertwined, services and apps have cropped up to streamline the digestion process. Be it aggregators like PopUrls or talented curators like Brain Pickings or Kottke, funneling the tremendous volume of information can be an exhausting endeavor for those who want to stay current. As a result, I’ve come to value services that allow me to tailor information and fast-track the most relevant stories straight to my inbox. Summify has proven an excellent addition to my tools.
As someone who has been travelling and eating my way around the world for the last few years, I’ve found myself in a bit of a strange position. I’m a hard news and technology junkie, but I’m often in extremely remote places. While I have thoroughly enjoyed disconnecting from the Internet during trips to Laos or Myanmar or Mongolia, I’ve returned wanting to know what I missed in the world. It’s not about connecting with others (though I do miss the interaction) so much as keeping myself attuned to what goes on elsewhere. I didn’t want to return home from longer stretches of travel and find myself unaware of what happened in the interim. Reverse culture shock was much easier to handle when there were points of news to discuss with family and friends, and I knew what was going on in the world.
Enter Summify. I initially heard of them via Twitter, of course, and signed up from my apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’ve been using them since early 2010 and have foisted the service on anyone who will listen, especially journalist friends who have a need to consume a serious amount of information but rarely the corresponding time to do so. Despite not having a traditional job, doing freelance writing and travel photography requires at a lot of moving around, away from the computer. Besides, how would I sit and read BBC News on a train to Siberia? Even if there was WiFi (there isn’t) I’d prefer to chat with a local family about what they ate for dinner. So instead, I get an email from Summify listing the 10 top stories from my networks. I’ve recently increased the frequency to twice-a-day summaries in an aim to tailor the service further.
How do you use Summify?
When people ask about my social media tools, I suggest Summify first because each user’s feeds can be whittled down to what they want their summary to be. Ultimately what we each think is relevant is a subjective and moving target, so the amount of tailoring is an important feature for the service. I receive a lot of fellow travel bloggers’ feeds on Google Reader and I tend to use Twitter as an RSS feed, following few people and using it for location and news updates as I travel. My aim was for Summify to supplement my news access when I was unable to remain online, to be my bulletin for the prior day.
It’s been a great success for me, floating the stories my network has highlighted during the course of the day while at the same time allowing me to “x” out domains that I don’t want to appear or “thumbs up”ing articles I want to see more of. Over my months of use, I’ve seen my Summify moving more and more toward hard news, science and technology, which was my aim in signing up.
I’ve been recommending Summify in podcasts or interviews, and when they approached me to participate in their new spotlight series, I was happy to explain how the tool has worked for me. It’s been a very satisfying supplement to an active Twitter community and some choice curators, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they tweak the service going forward.
Some interesting follows I recommend:
@pkedrosky – investor, media guy, humanist, hater of fluorescent lights
@brainpicker – interestingness curator & semi-secret geek obsessed with design…
@mathewi – senior writer at GigaOm, former journalist for The Globe and Mail…
@markmackinnon – East Asia correspondent for The Globe and Mail…
@antderosa – Social Media Editor at Reuters…
@openculture – The best FREE cultural & educational media on the web…
@kirstinbutler – Cultural canary, unapologetic generalist, pie-lover…
Let us know what you think of our first Spotlight! If you’d like to be considered for future Summify Spotlight posts you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.