Digital Advent Calendar Q&A

Re-Posted from the Communities 2.0 blog. I was asked several questions by our marketing department for the 2014 digital advent calendar, to get people thinking about IT, inclusion and technology beyond the usual gifts.

Q1. How long have you been using computers/ digital tech?

Hello, I’m James and I am a technology user. This has been the case for nearly 25 years of my 29 year life (give or take a few months.) My first computer was constructed by myself, however it was less digital and more analogue. The cereal packet laptop I pieced together (emulating my father’s more advanced beige beast) had no apps, and a slot for an A4 paper screen. I’ll be honest, the resolution was impeccable, however the refresh rate was disappointing. My first real taste of technology came in the early 1990’s when one Christmas my sister and I gleefully discovered a NES Control Deck hidden behind the sofa, complete with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt.

Nintendo Action Set

Image credit Giant Bomb (


Q2. What’s your favourite bit of tech ever?

Far too much to choose from, but my first computer, a Celeron powered, Windows 98 machine my family purchased in 1999. I say it was my computer, it wasn’t, but by that time I had established the computer as my domain. By 2003 this machine had become the centre of my social life, I programmed games, made movies, stayed up late messaging my first girlfriend over MSN messenger, made my first awful music with free programs from the internet and even occasionally did my homework. I held up the phone line with the glaring squawks of the AOL supplied modem, had a few in-depth conversations with my parents over why, exactly the phone bill had grown so high. While it was not my first, fondly remembered PC, it was the device that I went through my awkward teenage years with, which gave me a connection to the world, to people in far away countries, who were my age, who loved the same things. We posted on message boards, loved the same bands, felt the pangs of love and rejection together, supported each other. All this experienced on a device with an 800×600 screen connected at 4.8Kbps.

Q3. What’s your favourite free website/app and why?

I use the fantastic Feedly everyday, on my PC and phone. Feedly is an easy to use, powerful RSS reader, which means you can pull news items and feeds into one place to read in one place. This means I can get news on technology, games, music, from all my favourite websites, at once in a clean easy to read interface. The mobile app collates top stories with images into a nice widget and bookmarks can be shared across all devices for later reading. It saves me time, effort, bandwidth and helps digest the immense volumes of data that can spew forth from other social sites.

Q4. What’s your top tip for digital inclusion?

Be curious. The whole scope of human ingenuity and knowledge is out there on the internet, all you have to do is type. If you don’t know what a term means, highlight, copy and paste it into a search box and follow the rabbit hole as far as you please. Need inspiration? Type names, products, places, acronyms, ideas, feelings, anything and just see where you end up. At the click of a button you will be back at the start, ready to dive in again. The internet is more than just sharing fun images and amusing clips, think of what you can learn. If you are really stuck, try taking an online course from or EdX, and discover your own interests and potential.

Q5. What tech would you like to see in the future?

I want surprises! A lot of future technology is already here, and will just need time to make its way into our hands. I can’t wait to see were the (currently nausea inducing) VR headsets take us, I want to see virtual worlds come to life. But I also dream of green energy, fusion power, and electric cars. These all exist right now, but they need to be within reach of us all.